Besides a lunch with Queen Elizabeth and a reception at UK's Wembley stadium, PM Narendra Modi is expected to receive a flypast with India’s national colours when he pays homage at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi near the British Parliament. Modi's three day visit to the UK begins on Thursday, Nov 12. Analysts say that UK, that was among countries to deny Modi a visa when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, is looking to woo Modi to help facilitate more business whereas for Modi, it is a chance to come out looking strong after the election rout in Bihar as well as step back into his comfort zone of being feted as a rockstar by India's international diaspora.
This is the first time that an Indian PM would be addressing the British Parliament, according to Foreign Secretary, S Jaishankar who stressed that India would endeavour to send the message that India was a “job maker”, and not a “job taker.'
There will be comprehensive talks with Prime Minister David Cameron, Modi said on Facebook. “My message to the business community is clear — come, make use of the opportunities India is offering and invest in India." However Modi's welcome would be different from the one accorded to President Xi of China, as Modi isn't a head of state. “It’s not practical to compare apples and oranges," said Jaishankar referring to the Chinese President's visit, " I think we have a different history with the UK…that’s a connect between us…a connect of values and history and institutions and thoughts… In terms of how it’ll play out, my sense is wait and see.”
In the aftermath of the Bihar election debacle, international criticism over religious intolerance by Hindu groups associated with the BJP, there have been protests in the United Kingdom ahead of Modi's visit.
The Awaaz Network has been leading a protest movement against Modi's UK visit, mobilising people to join them in a protest march against the Prime Minister on the day he is scheduled to speak at British Parliament. The projection showed Modi wielding a sword in front of "an OM sign that is tragically being transferred to a swastika", a spokesperson from Awaaz told IB Times, though there are contrarian reports that image was photoshopped.
On Sunday, a column in the Sunday Times by Modi said that his upcoming visit would be a celebration of the "diversity and breadth" of ties between India and the UK. "We are creating the human resources of the future, seeking solutions to food and health security, and addressing emerging challenges such as climate change. Our security agencies are collaborating to keep our cities safe, our citizens secure and our cyber-networks protected. Our defence cooperation enhances our confidence in standing up for our values," he said.
India is the third biggest source of foreign investment in the UK and most prominent of this is the Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover. According to the BBC there won't be any single multi-billion mega-project, and a "lower-key story about closer financial ties, a smoothing of obstacles to trade, together with news of a clutch of smaller trade and investment deals," is what is likely to emerge.
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