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India-UK Move Ahead With the Migration and Mobility Pact

India and the United Kingdom (UK) have recently cracked a deal regarding migration and mobility. It is known as the migration and mobility partnership, the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for which was signed earlier this month. This was done during the Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s visit to the UK for the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting. India was invited to the G7 summit in an attempt to acknowledge it for its efforts.

The migration and mobility MoU was signed by the Indian External Affairs Minister and from the UK it was UK Home Secretary Priti Patel. In fact, the Union Cabinet chaired by the Indian Prime Minister also approved the MoU. The MoU aims at relaxing visa issuance and encouraging mobility of students, researchers,s and skilled professionals. It shall also serve the purpose of strengthening cooperation on disputes related to irregular migration and human trafficking between India and the UK.

While the new partnership is expected to benefit both countries, there will be some challenges towards its effective implementation.

The migration issue has been at the heart of a lot of debate and discussion between India and the UK. It is almost a stumbling block in taking the relationship between the two countries forward. An earlier attempt seen in 2018 did not really pass muster and they did not move forward. There were some numbers given like 100,000 illegal immigrants of Indian origin living in the UK. That was disputed by India because there were questions about the verification process on part of the UK.

The larger issues of trade and investment and the larger relationship between India and the UK are being reimagined. With the rearrangement, this issue is at the heart of the conversation as to what happens if opportunities are not available for skilled professionals. Over the last decade, Britain was seen making it very difficult for Indians and others to work in Britain. For example, students used to face a lot of difficulties when they used to study and didn’t get the work visa extension. Work visas initially used to be given as part of student visas for a year but then it was taken away from them.

This lack of opportunity for Indians, lack of opportunities for Indian skilled workers and students have been the center of discussion. With this pact this issue has been made the center of focus again, taking the relationship forward.

From India’s perspective, any conversation about the India UK partnership should have resolved this problem. Now a greater degree of sensitivity and urgency on part of the UK can be seen. The UK acknowledges that this is a problem that India takes seriously and it needs to be responded to by allowing some practical solutions.

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