The King’s India Institute welcomed His Excellency, the High Commissioner of India to the UK, Mr YK Sinha, to the university on Monday, 23 April, for a celebration of the wide-ranging and impactful engagement between King’s and India. The event was the centre-piece of a two-day programme organised by the Global India Network, a training network for PhD students working on issues of direct contemporary policy relevance to India and Europe, including the future relationship between India and the European Union.
His Excellency Mr YK Sinha delivered a keynote address at the event which explored ‘UK, EU and India Relations in the Context of Brexit’. He commented that “what is important now is to see, in the context of Brexit, how India and the UK can engage after the UK Prime Minister has set out her vision for a Global Britain”. Mr Sinha said that “India is ready” to strike new deals with the UK, building on the existing strategic partnership between the two countries.
A lively panel discussion followed the High Commissioner’s speech, in which panellist Professor Anand Menon (Department of European & International Studies) expressed his scepticism that the United Kingdom was in a position to offer the type of trade deals that the High Commissioner favoured. Professor Menon acknowledged the significance of the inter-relationship between the two countries but questioned whether the UK Government would be willing to make trade-offs involving immigration as a condition of striking a trade deal.
Professor Menon commented that in an ‘ideal world’, student visas would enable students from India to stay on for two years after studying in the UK, strengthening bonds between people and cultures: “it allows people to start a professional career in the UK and then take those linkages back home,” he said.
The President & Principal of King’s, Professor Edward Byrne AC, highlighted the broad spectrum of ties between King’s and India at the start of the evening: “Our engagement with India extends right across the institution, from healthcare, to robotics, to public policy…All of our links rely on the strength of our collaborative networks and partners in India, which is why we are so delighted to be a part of the Global India Network.”
The King’s India Institute is a focal point within King’s for engagement, as an internationally leading centre for social science and humanities research and teaching on contemporary India.
As a member of the Global India Network, the India Institute is helping to train the next generation of experts who have the cultural awareness, languages and research skills necessary to observe and analyse the new ‘global India’. Funded by the European Commission, the network brings together six leading European universities, including King’s, with six leading Indian universities and non-academic partners.
Commenting on the event, Interim Director of the India Institute, Dr Louise Tillin, said: “We were delighted that India’s High Commissioner to the UK, Mr YK Sinha, could join us to offer his keynote reflections on the evolving relationship between the UK and India in the context of Brexit negotiations. The Global India European Training Network, of which King’s India Institute is a partner, is training a new generation of PhD students focused on issues of pressing contemporary concern to India and the EU. This topical event was a reflection of the debates that researchers within the network are engaged in.”