NARENDRA MODI is this week visiting Germany, Denmark and France, where the Indian prime minister will be pressed about his government’s decision not to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The West appears to have accepted that India has a longstanding relationship with Russia and that its import of Russian oil at discounted prices cannot be prevented.
As with the UK, the European Union also wants a Free Trade Agreement with India. The UK, with 2.5 million people of Indian origin, is not the only place with a living bridge.
In a statement, Modi said: “Continental Europe is home to over one million persons of Indian origin, and Germany has a significant proportion of this diaspora. The Indian diaspora is an important anchor in our relations with Europe and therefore I will take the opportunity of my visit to the continent to meet our brothers and sisters there.”
It is in the interests of the Indian diaspora that the conflict in Ukraine ends soon. Instead, there are predictions that it could last for years.
One paper in India has reported that “with Russia reeling under western sanctions, some 50 Indian food, ceramics and chemicals exporters will head to Moscow later this month after enquiries from Russian firms”.
Vivek Agarwal from lobby group the Trade Promotion Council of India, which is organising the trip, was quoted as saying: “Trade and financial sanctions imposed on Russia… have opened up numerous avenues for Indian businesses across various sectors. Indian companies too are excited to tap the huge potential available for Indian products in Russia.”
It would reflect badly on Indians living in the UK and elsewhere if companies in India became involved in sanctions busting. Unnamed government officials suggested, however, that shipments would only start once the war in Ukraine was over. Perhaps the time has come for Modi somehow to use India’s good offices to try to bring about a cessation of hostilities. War without end carries a high cost for India.