London | Lord Tariq Ahmad, the UK's Minister of State for South Asia, arrived in India on Saturday for a four-day visit with a focus on strengthening science, research and innovation links.
The visit's focus on science, technology and innovation emphasises the UK's commitment to deepen partnerships in these areas across the globe.
Strengthening the UK-India relationship is a key pillar of the UK's long-term foreign policy, as part of its enduring engagement in the Indo-Pacific set out in the Integrated Review, the Foreign Office said.
"The UK and India are trusted partners united by the unique living bridge that closely connects our countries and people,” Lord Ahmad said ahead of his visit.
"Building on the 2030 Roadmap for India-UK future relations, we are deepening our collaboration on science and technology, bringing new innovations to both our nations,” he said.
The visit comes as India and the UK are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which is expected to boost the current trading relationship worth GBP 36 billion in 2022. The 10th round of FTA talks are set to begin from June 5 in New Delhi.
Lord Ahmad's visit to Rajasthan will be his first trip to his mother's birthplace of Jodhpur as Minister for South Asia and will highlight the region's rich cultural history. He will visit the iconic Mehrangarh Fort, and discuss education, sustainability and gender equality with emerging women leaders.
In New Delhi, Lord Ahmad will launch the ‘English Skills for Youth' programme, co-developed by the British Council and Microsoft India, which will enhance global employment opportunities for Indian young people, especially young women. The minister will announce the winners of the UK-India Health-Tech Boot Camp boosting health-tech innovations from India.
Christina Scott, Acting British High Commissioner to India, said, "The UK and India enjoy an invaluable partnership. As we deliver the UK-India Roadmap 2030, we are deepening and accelerating our collaboration on health, climate, trade, education, science and technology, and defence." "With India's Presidency of the G20, we have an opportunity also for the UK and India to work together to shape and deliver solutions to global problems.” Concluding his visit in Hyderabad, Lord Ahmad will highlight science and tech innovations with trips to T-Hub and T-Works, the technology start-up incubator and prototyping facility which are part of the world's largest innovation campus, and space launch vehicle company Skyroot.
He will also visit the National Institute of Animal Biotechnology and discuss further potential for science and technology collaboration with Indian alumni of Chevening, the UK's flagship international scholarship programme.