Speech: Minister for Defence Procurement speaking at the Global Investment Summit in India

Ministry Of Defence

February 13
11:54 2023

Thank you Honourable Chief Minister for that warm introduction. It is an enormous pleasure to be here in Lucknow today for the Global Investment Summit.

As some of you may know, for me personally this has felt less of a visit and more of homecoming.

Because it was here in Uttar Pradesh that I spent a formative period of my life as a young graduate, living and working as a teacher in this beautiful state and gaining experience that continues to influence me today. Yesterday I travelled to Bakshi-ka-talab for an emotional reunion with Sushma Singh and her family.

It was emotional because I formed a strong attachment to this remarkable country and its people. From the holy city of Varanasi, to the wonder of Agra. I knew then that India was destined for an extraordinary future. In the intervening two decades, India has indeed become great. But in truth, it is only just getting started.

As well as successfully holding the presidency of the G20, Indias growing economy is accelerating past others, and is already bigger than Britains. That trend will only continue. We dont just acknowledge that we admire it and we celebrate it.

Because I come here today as a representative of a new kind of British Government. The torch has truly passed to a new generation of British ministers, led by my friend and colleague, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who has already established an excellent relationship with Modi Jee.

Because this is a generation of ministers that has studied and come of age in one of the most diverse countries on Earth. A country of pluralism, of tolerance. A country where I can tell you that this ministers children celebrate Diwali with all the enthusiasm that they show for Christmas.

And above all, like you, a meritocracy a country where it doesnt matter where youre from, its where youre going that counts. And UP is certainly going places.

And when it comes to our country, the United Kingdom is more open, more outward-looking, more globalist than ever before. Global Britain is not a slogan it is a fundamental part of our modern DNA. And its absolutely at the heart of why Im so delighted to be here.

And so when I come back to Lucknow, and I see the road signs bearing that famous name, my mind does not turn principally to the past, our shared history or my own past. It turns with wonder to the extraordinary present of this mighty metropolis, and it soars on the promise of what tomorrow will surely bring.

Because we meet here in one of the fastest growing economies in India, a state of over 200m people, a hub of research and development. A state that is restless for its future just as Britain is.

We know your ambitions Chief Minister for this state, for growing the economy this decade, for developing the infrastructure, and for establishing a defence corridor the engine of new Indias growth. That vision is hugely exciting, and I would like our comprehensive strategic partnership to be the engine of each others growth.

Indeed, we stand ready to be at your side, as partners, as we hurry towards that future. And to demonstrate that commitment I am joined today by more than 30 British businesses firms that are already partnering with Indian counterparts and stand ready to deepen and intensify that relationship. We want to achieve great things together, and today they are signing seven MOUs, committing 165m of investment into UP and generating almost a thousand jobs.

And when it comes to ties to India business is not beginning from a standing start. Since the turn of the century no G20 country has invested more in India than Britain. For its part, India is Britains second-biggest jobs creator.

And in Defence we see with growing clarity where our relationship can go. On land, on sea, and in the air. And even in space and cyber.

At sea, the crew of HMS Tamarvisited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands last month and exercised with the Indian Navy. Our flagship, the great carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, sailed to the Indian Ocean in 2021 and took part in our most demanding bilateral exercise to date, Exercise Konkan Shakti, conducted by all three services from both countries.

In the air, youll be aware of our regular joint exercise, Indradhanush, with tactics, techniques and procedures being shared between our aviators.

And on the ground, where British participation in exercise Ajeya Warrior has strengthened our interoperability and shared skills in tackling terrorism, and boosting counter-insurgency capability.

And thats all before you factor in the extensive collaboration at an industrial level.

Whether its our new Defence Industry Joint Working Group launched last year. Whether its our Enhanced Cyber Security Partnership. Or whether its the regular bilateral consultations on space technology.

And I see huge opportunities for our industries to collaborate in electric propulsion technology to power the Indian Navy, and complex weapons systems.

And to support greater defence and security collaboration the UK has issued an Open General Export Licence to India, reducing bureaucracy and shortening delivery times for defence procurement. This is our first such licence in the Indo-Pacific.

And tomorrow I look forward to emphasising to Indian defence colleagues that the UK stands ready to commit to something truly special: the largest ever transfer of jet engine technology from Britain to any other nation in our history. Technology that will give India sovereign Make-in-India intellectual capability, that will ensure India joins an exclusive club and becomes just the sixth country in the world to acquire this cutting-edge capability and will empower India to export future fighters on Indias terms around the world.

A strong, self-reliant, resilient India, with a sovereign defence industry to match.

Thats good for India. Thats good for the region. And its vital for the world.

Thats because wherever you are in the world, there is a growing, inescapable feeling that our planet is become more dangerous.

Putins illegal invasion of Ukraine has shown us that the world is more connected and interdependent than ever. Rising costs, food shortages and instability are triggered across the world.

And I know I dont need to remind this audience that Chinas increasing belligerence poses systematic challenges to the international rules-based order. It threatens to undermine those values that our free nations hold to be inviolable democracy, good governance, human rights, the rule of law. And the right of any nation to preserve its territorial integrity.

So accelerating our partnership is not a nice to have. It is a geopolitical necessity. And we need to get on with it.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recognises that, and fired the starting gun on the latest sprint last week when he joined a meeting between Indias National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his British counterpart Tim Barrow.

Together they framed plans to strengthen cooperation on trade, technology and defence. And I know Alan [Gemmell, HM Trade Commissioner for South Asia] is going to be speaking in a moment about the various agreements were set to commit to writing shortly.

We also have our Foreign Secretary, Chancellor and First Sea Lord all coming here in the coming week to further strengthen our relationship.

And Im here in UP, because we see special opportunity in this extraordinary state of UP, and the vision you have set out for development and defence investment.

Twenty years ago, my pupils taught me:

Pardesi pardesi jaana nahi

Foreigner, dont leave

Pardesi pardesi jaana nahi

Foreigner, dont leave

Mujhe chhod ke, mujhe chhod ke

Leaving me behind

Pardesi pardesi jaana nahi

Foreigner, dont leave

Mujhe chhod ke, mujhe chhod ke

Leaving me behind

Pardesi mere yaara vaada nibhana

My foreigner friend, fulfill your promise

Mujhe yaad rakhna kahin bhool na jaana

Remember me and dont forget me

Today, the Hindi slogan that comes to mind is:

UK-UP: sAbka sat, sAbka vikAAAs.

Published 13 February 2023

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