India–United Kingdom relations

India–United Kingdom relations
United Kingdom – India relations
Map indicating locations of United Kingdom and India

United Kingdom


Indian–British relations are foreign relations between India and the United Kingdom. India has a high commission in London and two consulates-general in Birmingham and Edinburgh.[1] The United Kingdom has a high commission in New Delhi and three deputy high commissions in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.[2] Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations. Since 1947, relations between the two countries have been mostly friendly and there are many areas in which both India and the UK seek stronger ties for mutual benefit. There are also strong cultural and social ties between the two nations. In India, English is one of the official languages, and Cricket is among the most popular sports. In the UK, Indian Cuisine is hugely popular. Britain imports most of its tea from India, and there are a number of words of Indian origin in the English language. India is among the top 5 investors in the British economy. The UK has an ethnic Indian population of over 1.6 million. Prime Minister David Cameron described Indian – British relations as the "New Special Relationship" in 2010.[3][4]



East India Company (1600–1857)

Trade was established between Tudor England and Mughal India in 1600 when the East India Company was founded, with Elizabeth I granting the company a royal charter. Following the Mughal Empire's decline in 1707, the East India Company began gaining greater influence in India. Following the Battle of Plassey in 1757, which led to the conquest of Bengal, the East India Company eventually conquered most of the Indian subcontinent by 1857, following various wars with Indian kingdoms (such as the Anglo-Mysore Wars with Tipu Sultan, the Anglo-Maratha Wars and the Anglo-Sikh wars). India served as the main base for the British Empire's expansion across Asia and would remain the empire's most important colony until independence. Also due to Company rule in India, a sizeable British community began emerging in India while a sizeable Indian community began emerging in Britain at the same time. Following the Indian rebellion of 1857, where Indian sepoys rebelled against their British officers, the East India Company collapsed the following year.

British Raj (1858–1947)

In 1858, the British Government assumed direct control of the territories and treaty arrangements of the former East India Company. In 1876, the area, which included modern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, became "The Indian Empire" (often known historically as the 'British Raj') with British Monarch Queen Victoria proclaimed as "Empress of India" (a title held by her successors until 1947). The British Indian Army was established and assisted Britain in many wars, including the Anglo-Afghan Wars, the Anglo-Gurkha Wars, the Anglo-Burmese Wars, the Opium Wars, and both the World Wars.

The Indian independence movement was established and rebelled against British rule, both through violent revolutions (as exemplified by Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose) and through nonviolent resistance (as exemplified by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi). India eventually achieved independence in 1947, leading to the Partition of India.

Dominion of India (1947–1950)

Independence came in 1947 with the Partition of India into the Dominion of India, and the Dominion of Pakistan, within the Commonwealth of Nations. King George VI, who as British Monarch had been "Emperor of India", abandoned this title in 1947, and served as India's ceremonial head of state as 'King of India' (in much the same way, he also served as 'King of Pakistan'). In 1950 India became a Republic and the link with the British crown was severed.

The Dominion was part of the Sterling Area (the Republic of India finally leaving in 1966).

Republic of India (since 1950)

India remained in the Commonwealth of Nations after becoming a Republic, but diversified its foreign relations beyond the former British Empire.

In particular, India became a major force within the Non-Aligned Movement, which initially sought to avoid taking sides during the Cold War. This contrasted with Britain's position as a founding member of NATO, and key ally of the United States.

However, relations between the two countries have generally been cordial.

Due mainly to post independence immigration, there are now over a million people of Indian descent in the United Kingdom.


India is the second largest foreign investor in the UK after the United States, and the UK is also a significant investor in India. There are many bilateral trade agreements between the two nations designed to strengthen ties. For example, in 2005, the Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) was inaugurated in New Delhi aimed at boosting two-way bilateral investments.


Cooperation is undertaken under the Defence Consultative Group (DCG) formed in 1995. India and the UK cooperate in a number of ways. Joint Indo-UK exercises (a ten-day exercise Emerald Mercury was held in India in March 2005, the first of its kind between the two countries, which marked the biggest land deployment of British military personnel in India), research and technology and defence equipment collaboration. Britain supports India’s case for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council as well as bilateral cooperation in civilian nuclear technology. The UK and India also cooperate on security and terrorism issues.


Politically, relations between India and the UK occur mostly through the multilateral organisations of which both are members, such as the Commonwealth of Nations, the World Trade Organisation and the Asian Development Bank. Britain was the first G8 nation to suggest that India, along with China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, be allowed to attend summits with the G8. Britain recently donated £825 million in aid to India for the development of India's Healthcare System and Educational System.

Three Presidents of India have paid state visits to the United Kingdom: Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan in June 1963[5], Ramaswamy Venkataraman in October 1990,[5] and Pratibha Patil in 2009.[5]

HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom paid state visits to India in November 1963, April 1990, and in October 1997.[6] [7]


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