A historic celebration commemorating the 76th anniversary of India’s independence took place at the UK Parliament complex, supported by various political parties and endorsed by the India (Trade and Investment) All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).
Organized by the British Indian think tank 1928 Institute, a special roundtable discussion titled ‘India and the Indo-Pacific’ brought together High Commissioners from India, Bangladesh, Australia, Canada, Nepal, and other countries. Following the roundtable, a reception was held in the House of Lords River Room on Monday evening.
Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, delivered the keynote address, emphasizing the Labour Party’s commitment to strengthening India-UK ties. Starmer expressed his delight at the unprecedented event in Parliament, highlighting India’s independence achieved under the Attlee government, a Labour government of the post-war era. He pledged to continue fostering international collaboration with India if he were to lead the Labour Party, acknowledging the significant decision made back then and promising to work on the global stage with India.
Sir Keir Starmer further reiterated his recent commitment made during UK-India Week to lead a transformed party that values the contributions of the Indian diaspora. He stressed that a future Labour government would support the rights of British Indians and take action against all forms of anti-India racism. He emphasized the joint efforts of the UK and India in fighting pandemics, climate change, and terrorism. He expressed his vision for a UK-India relationship based on open-handedness, respect, forward-thinking, and aspiration.
Baroness Sandy Verma, President of the India (Trade and Investment) APPG, highlighted the event’s significance as a celebration of the achievements in the bilateral relationship since India’s independence. Lord Karan Bilimoria, co-chair of the APPG, emphasized the importance of the APPG on India focused on trade and investment, calling for regular parliamentary delegations to India. He also called for a major British trade delegation under the leadership of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as no such delegation had taken place since November 2016.
Government ministers from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration, including Trade Minister Nigel Huddleston and Foreign Office Minister for the Indo-Pacific Anne-Marie Trevelyan, were present at the event.
The Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Vikram Doraiswami, spoke about the exceptional opportunities presented by the India-UK partnership and stressed the need for a forward-looking approach. He emphasized the key pillars of a strong bilateral partnership and highlighted the Indian diaspora as a unifying force between the two countries. Doraiswami praised the accomplishments of the Indian diaspora in the UK, attributing their success to hard work and the enabling environment provided by the system.
The 1928 Institute, a platform affiliated with Oxford University and dedicated to researching and representing the views of British Indians, organized the event to honor the sacrifices made by the Indian generation that fought for independence. While this celebration marked the first of its kind at the UK Parliament complex preceding India’s Independence Day on August 15, it is expected to become an annual event on the parliamentary calendar.