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More Indian Students Prefer to Study in the UK: Boris Johnson

October 2017, 24
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British foreign secretary Boris Johnson is a compelling politician of the modern Britain. He received Education at Eton and Oxford. Here he answers a few timely questions and expresses his worthy views on a wide range of topics.

Q: India requires visa concessions as a part of the future bilateral trade deal. Mention your role in forwarding this idea? The number of Indian students has dropped from 40,000 a few years ago to the 19,000 at present.

A: In fact, the number of Indian students in the UK maintains an increase. Latest figures show an increase of 10% in Indian students who have gained visas and 91% of the applicants meet success. We want the bright and best Indian students to be present at our universities and further their ambitions. There is no limit to the number of genuine Indian students who can pursue academics in Britain. Britain is opening for business and focuses on providing excellent visa service. It is important to clear misunderstandings. Indians are visiting the UK in a big way than before. More visas are granted than earlier. The figures say that until June 2017, 500,000 visas were given to Indians which is an increase of 8% over 2016. In fact, Britain issues maximum visas to Indians and Chinese.

Britain processes 99% of applications within 15 working days through 17 Visa Application Centres spread in India. Indians also get Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfers visas in excess of all other nationalities combined. In 2016, 60,000 work visas were granted to Indian nationals, which were two-thirds of all the UK work visas issued.

Q: There is a decline of US$6.4 billion in FDI from the UK in the past 5 years and the share of UK in India's global trade has declined from 2.07% to 1.89%. What is the future when such figures are present?

A: The UK and India are investors in their mutual economies. There is a sustained pattern and in the past decade, Britain has been the biggest investor in India with an investment of $24.7 billion. It brings real benefits also. British companies employ many workers in Indian private sector. India too has invested to create 11,664 jobs in the UK in 2016. Indian companies were successful in raising $1.5 billion of bonds. 80% of these bonds were listed in London, which is a great global financial center.

There have been exchanges like the TECH Summit in Delhi, and Indian business delegations will travel to the UK to deal with manufacturing, life sciences, electric automotive and creative industries taking forward the ambitions of both the nations.

Q: What kind of relationship will exist between the UK and India after Brexit?

A: Britain and India are democracies, and both nations cherish the same values and work together to make the world better. The reason for leaving the EU was that Britain must strengthen friendships with countries away from Europe, like India. There is a unique bridge among the people, covering technology, institutions, and ideas.

There are 1.5 million people of Indian descent, making a great contribution in politics, business, medicine, academia, and arts. Twelve Members of Parliament in the House of Commons are of Indian origin. India and Britain can walk 'Towards a Common Future' too.

Q: Tell us about the post-Brexit trade deal with India and the value of exports from Britain?

A: Britain needs a strong economic and commercial relationship with India. The bilateral trade exceeded £16bn in 2016 but this figure can be exceeded. a range of steps is being taken to strengthen trading ties with India. The Joint Economic and Trade Committee jointly chaired by the UK International Trade Secretary and Commerce Minister India - has commissioned an analysis of the trading relationship. A new joint working group has been created on trade to prepare for a fine relationship after leaving the EU.

Q: How do you assess the Rohingya problem? Do you think Aung Suu Kyi is criticised for her indifference in this matter?

A: The situation in Burma is deplorable. An assessment says that more than 500,000 Rohingya have left Rakhine state in a matter of days. A large outflow leaves no doubt that the military in Burma is responsible for this tragedy.

In the UN General Assembly, I had arranged a meeting with the representatives of Burma, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, USA, and China. A united message was given to the Burmese military on the steps to be taken. The killings should stop, the UN must be allowed to give aid in the needy areas and peace must be restored. The government in Burma should make sure that Rohingya refugees return home and implement the report given by the Advisory Commission. There must be accountability for the happenings in Rakhine.

Q: What do you say about Pakistan being the fountainhead of terror, since Osama bin Laden was taken out by US Special Forces?

A: Britain and India stand side by side in the fight against terrorism. India comforted us by its support during the recent attacks in London and Manchester. Britain works closely with India and Pakistan to fight terrorism. Pakistan has been urged to take effective action against all terrorist groupings functioning there.

Q: Your take on the Kashmir issue?

A:  India and Pakistan must find a lasting solution to this situation considering the wishes of the Kashmiri people. Britain cannot provide a solution and cannot mediate in this.

Q: You were a proponent of engaging Iran. What do you think of Trump's describing Iranian deal as embarrassing to the USA? What would be the implications of USA pull out?

A: The nuclear agreement, the JCPOA, is an ideal to contain nuclear ambitions of Iran. It is a great achievement and the world is safer because of it. Britain desires to preserve the agreement and all parties must observe its terms.

Q: What do you think of the tax reforms and demonetization? How is GST seen by British companies in India? What is the relationship between both the PMs?

Pursuing economic reforms and Demonetization were bold moves by a leader dedicated to bringing structural changes. Any development which helps businesses to grow and create jobs in India is good.

The GST is visionary and very ambitious reform. It has potential to increase growth and reduce red tape. The PMs signed an agreement to cooperate on making business deals easier and tax administration is vital for this.

The UK has a strong economic relationship and offers support in areas like renewable energy, technology, urban regeneration, and investment capital requirements. Theresa May has an excellent rapport with PM Modi.

Q: India and the UK have signed an Extradition Treaty in 1992, and what is the prospect of Mr. Mallya being extradited?

A: The executive and judiciary are separate in Britain, and Extradition is a judicial process with a limited role for the Government. The UK is committed to cooperating with India to put an end to all crimes. There were talks on the methods to improve processing extradition requests. They are handled through legal procedures only.

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