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“No Country should preach to Another”: UK PM on ‘Freedom in India’ Debate

Source : Press Trust of India (PTI)

“No Country should preach to Another”: UK PM on ‘Freedom in India’ Debate
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson shaking hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi yesterday (PTI/ANI Photo)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said no country should “preach” to another, and “nobody can say that India is not a democracy.” The visiting PM, who spoke at the Times Network India Economic Conclave, was asked about the recent debate on the issue of “freedoms of non-governmental organisations, academics and other groups in India” in the House of Lords. 

The British MPs had also called on Johnson to take up the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to New Delhi.

“I don’t think it is the job of parliamentarians…they say all sorts of things. You should see what they say about me in our Parliament,” Johnson said.

“I don’t think it’s the job of one country to preach to another. India is an incredible country. (It has) 1.35 billion people, the biggest democracy. Nobody can say India is not a democracy. It’s an extraordinary place. And above all, it is ever more important in a world where the growth of the future is going to be in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

The UK is “tilting” towards the Indo-Pacific and “India’s role is guardian of democratic values and in that area, it is even more important,” the British prime minister further said.

Asked whether the UK condemns Chinese incursions along India’s borders, the British PM said his country has always condemned breaches of territorial integrity.

“That’s why I condemn so strongly what happened in Ukraine. We need to learn the lesson on how autocracies behave,” he said.

Referring to Aukus, a security alliance of Australia, the US and UK, and the way the UK has to work together with friends and partners in the Indo-Pacific, he added that “it is not an exclusionary thing” and “we want to work ever more intensively with India.” There has been progress on the UK-India free trade deal, he said, adding that the bar on British apples has been lifted.

“I would like to see a free trade deal done by Diwali. There are some traditional areas where India maintains tariffs,” he said.

Johnson also said that his government has a much more proactive policy “on welcoming talent to the UK from India.” There are around 99,000 Indian students in the UK, he said, adding that the numbers have risen after going down for a brief period.

On liberalisation of visa regime, Johnson said the UK is short of people in some sectors like the IT which are required for the growth of the economy.

Earlier in the day, Johnson held talks with Prime Minister Modi in Delhi.

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