- Rishi Sunak Historic Visit to India
- The Purpose and Dynamics of the G20 Summit
- Key Absences and Complex Diplomacy
- Trade Talks and Visa Issues
- Symbolism of a British Prime Minister’s Visit to India
Rishi Sunak has arrived in Delhi for the G20 summit, a gathering of the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies plus the European Union.
He became the first Indian-origin prime minister to visit the country.
According to No. 10, the “historic” visit will serve as a “powerful reminder of the living bridge between the two nations.”
His wife, Akshata Murty, was born and raised in India and is the daughter of one of India’s wealthiest individuals.
The G20 is essentially a diplomatic mush. Many of its members share little in common besides large economies.
Bringing together the countries that drive the global economy is the purpose of the initiative.
The G20 is a child of the 21st century, having been conceived in 1999 and gaining prominence following the financial crisis of 2008.
It indicates that its discussions are frequently very broad. However, the gathering also provides an opportunity for leaders to confer one-on-one in what are known as “bilaterals.”
Mr. Sunak stated on the way to the summit that he was “thrilled to be back” in India, describing it as “a country that is very dear to me.”
He stated, “It is undoubtedly unique. I saw somewhere that I was referred to as India’s son-in-law, which I hope was intended as a compliment.
On the guest list were two of the most powerful individuals in the world, but they were not attending.
President Vladimir Putin will be absent for the second consecutive year.
“Once again, Vladimir Putin is absent from the G20,” the prime minister remarked.
“He is the architect of his diplomatic exile, secluding himself in his presidential palace and shielding himself from criticism and reality.
Rest of G20 shows we’ll work together to pick up Putin’s ruins.
But the situation is more complicated.
President Xi of China is also absent. And some G20 members are considerably less committed to Ukraine than others.
The sponsors, India, continue to purchase large quantities of oil from Russia.
The prime minister refused to disclose whether he planned to meet with the Chinese premier during the summit.
On the flight, he told reporters he was “expecting to see a variety of people… over the course of the couple of days we’re all there,” but he refused to confirm whether they would meet face-to-face.
Free trade discussions
The prime minister will meet with Narendra Modi to explore a UK-India free trade pact.
There is growing optimism that an agreement can be reached soon.
Finance Minister of India Nirmala Sitharaman expressed optimism that it would be completed by the end of the year.
Mr. Sunak stated that an agreement “is not a given” even though Downing Street has refused to provide a timeline.
His predecessor, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, had stated in 2022 that he desired a “deal by Divali”; however, Mr. Sunak stated, “These things require a lot of work and a lot of time, which is why I’ve never set artificial deadlines for these trade agreements.
“I’ve always said that we shouldn’t sacrifice quality for speed.”
Indian demands for more flexible visas have long been recognised as a potential negotiation stumbling block.
The prime minister’s spokesman said, “This trade agreement is focused on trade and business; immigration is a separate issue.”
“The only aspect of human mobility covered by a free trade agreement is business mobility, which is the temporary movement of businesspeople for specific purposes.”
David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, stated that the Conservatives had said the trade agreement “would be finalized by last October” and that Mr. Sunak “arrives at the G20 as a global minnow.”
MPs urged the Prime Minister to address British national Jagtar Singh Johal’s death row sentence in India before his trip.
Mr. Sunak refused on two separate occasions to commit to bringing up the issue with Prime Minister Modi.
Despite all the politics and diplomacy, the initial focus of this voyage will be symbolic, historical, and visual: a British prime minister visiting a former British colony.
A British prime minister of Indian descent as India accommodates the world, or at least a large part of its economy.