Farm laws an internal matter of India: U.K. High Commissioner to India

British High Commissioner to India Alexander Ellis interacts with the media on March 5, 2021. Photo: Twitter/@UKinIndia  

Maintaining that the new agricultural laws are an “internal matter” of India, new U.K. High Commissioner to India Alexander Ellis on Friday said the debate in the British House of Commons set for Monday was part of issues linked to India that were quite “regularly debated” there.

“Things that happen in India have ripples in the U.K., partly because you do have such a big community in the U.K. So these things get debated,” Mr. Ellis told journalists, explaining that the farm laws and the protests were being discussed as a result of a petition that crossed 1,00,000 signatures, even though the U.K. government’s position was that the issue was an internal one for the Modi government to resolve in India.

“As the Indian diaspora grows and becomes more successful in many countries in the world, you’re going to see more of this …. as India grows, becomes more international and ever more significant in the world, there will be more debate about the government’s views,” Mr. Ellis said, but would not confirm whether the parliament debate had been raised by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar during his call with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Wednesday.

MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said Indian missions in the U.K. had engaged the government, civil society and others about the agricultural laws adopted in India last August, and had also given them information on the talks with various farmers’ unions currently protesting at Delhi’s borders.

During the Foreign Minister’s call, both leaders also spoke about the U.K.’s upcoming “strategic review” on its Indo-Pacific policy as well as preparations ahead of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit, that is expected in the “coming months,” according to Mr. Ellis. One of the highlights of the visit is the possible beginning of India-U.K. Free Trade agreement negotiations, which Mr. Johnson is understood to be keen to announce post-Brexit, even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to Portugal in May for an EU-India summit. Mr. Johnson’s earlier planned visit for Republic Day in January had to be put off due to a rise in coronavirus cases in the U.K., and he will also receive Mr. Modi in June as India is a special invitee along with Australia and South Korea to the G-7 summit of the world’s biggest economies.

Mr. Ellis said he hoped for a “swift resolution” of the dispute between the Indian government and British company Cairn Energy that won an arbitration settlement of $1.2 billion from India. Cairn Energy executives met with Finance Ministry officials last month, but there has been no visible movement on the dispute, and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman indicated on Friday that the government would appeal the arbitration verdict.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 6:48:06 AM |

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