On Friday 23 February 2018 the Principal of Somerville, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, chaired a discussion on ‘The changing tide of UK-India relations’. A distinguished panel met to share their perspectives on the future of relations between the UK and India in a post-Brexit world.
Indian Deputy High Commissioner Dinesh K Patnaik was joined by the Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt, Lord Karan Bilimoria, Lord Jitesh Gadhia and Mr Sakate Khaitan. The event was hosted by the Oxford India Society and the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development and was the first of the Oxford India Society’s Speaker Series events for 2018.
Discussion centred on India-UK relations in a post-Brexit world, and the contributions of panel members were followed by wide-ranging questions from the floor. There was firm agreement that the shared relationship of the past and the present must continue, and all concurred in the view that it was the interaction of individuals – the diaspora, but also business people, students and tourists – which would ensure the success of our future relationship. Speakers focused on the importance of trade – in goods and, increasingly, in services – and saw collaboration between businesses and universities as critical. A free exchange of people would be vital to the future.
For all their optimism and belief in innovation, the evening’s speakers were not wearing rose-tinted spectacles. All agreed that the future relationship between India and the UK was bound to be asymmetric, with India’s economic success and influence growing ever greater as the UK walks away from the EU and grapples with a diminished role on the world stage. As one speaker put it, India has far more suitors than the UK alone.