--- Manoj Saxena
Narendra Modi and David Cameron enjoy a leisurely walk at the Chequers grounds in Buckinghamshire (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons).
'Namaste Wembley' — exclaimed the British PM David Cameron — as he addressed a capacity crowd of over 60, 000 people of mostly Indian origin at the Wembley Stadium in London. Behind him stood the Indian PM Narendra Modi, eagerly waiting to be introduced for his speech as Cameron went on to describe the emphasis that his popularly elected government put on relations with India. Although he had the crowd at 'Namaste' the crowing moment of Cameron's address came when he uttered the magic words by saying that 'When it comes to UN we know what needs to happen — India with a permanent seat at the UN Security Council'.
The Indian PM moved in to deliver 90 minutes of spectacular oratory, spellbinding the audience. But it was the forceful message that Cameron delivered that was hitherto missing from the public domain — that of recognizing India as an ascendant power and the British willingness to enable its rise. For his part the Indian PM ended his speech by saying that the India-UK ties will remain strong 'as long as the sun and the moon endure' — a phrase not thrown around lightly in Indian politics.
The warmth at Wembley was not the only special occurrence during PM Modi's visit. Prior to this the symbolism included the Indian flag projected onto the iconic London Bridge and London Eye landmarks. The Red Arrows also colored the London sky in Indian flag colors in a spectacular flypast. And the queen welcomed the Indian PM for a luncheon, during which he gifted her photographs of her previous visits to India and several other items of symbolic value.
The robustness of the bilateral relationship was also clear during the trade delegation talks in which deals worth 9 billion pounds were inked between the two countries, opening the way to enhanced economic cooperation. The two countries also emphasized on their defense ties, with explicit references to Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, and the Haqqani Network — all of which operate from Pakistan with at least some state support. In further embarrassment to Pakistan the Modi-Cameron joint statement read that 'The two countries reiterate their call for Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai to justice'.
It can be argued that Tony Blair first opened up to the idea of a rising India and the former Indian PM Manmohan Singh also spoke of a 'special relationship' between the two significant democracies. Ties between the UK and India have always been cordial even during the Cold War. However, the current dynamic between the two leaders is fused with an enthusiasm that cannot be ignored. Modi is deeply nationalistic and has a reform oriented agenda for which the UK has a special place. Cameron is mindful of India's rise and is wary of the threats faced by the UK through terrorism and a shift in the global economic order. India is thus a right partner for the Cameron administration to work together on trade and security.
In International Relations decision making at an individual level is significant when the individuals in question are heads of governments. Most of the policies made or agreements inked between stable, mature, and democratic countries continue to the subsequent administrations. In this regard the energy which has been shown by both Cameron and Modi in taking the UK-India partnership forward is unprecedented. And the results of this dynamic will be felt in relations between the two countries and larger global politics in years to come.