Earlier this month, the Conservative Friends of the Commonwealth and Bharatvaarta hosted a joint event with Bob Blackman MP to discuss the future relationship between the United Kingdom and India.
The conversation began with Phoebe Sullivan asking how Bob, who has been labeled as a friend of India, developed this relationship with the country as well as what inspired him to be such a strong advocate for the state of India. Bob's relationship began at school as a large portion of Ugandan Indians immigrated to Wembley after their expulsion under the Idi Amin regime.
He explains he truly began to be involved with the politics of India during the mid 1980s with the Brent Hindu council and later in the 1990’s when the Kashmir pandits were being expelled from the Kashmir valley which was deemed by others including Bob as ethnic cleansing.
Later, Bob explained that British Hindus remain quiet, kept to themselves and focused on supporting their families as well as their local community whilst asking for very little in return. Bob formed an party parliamentary group for British Hindus as he noted all other religions had groups expect for Hindus.
Sunil Sharma asked what more could be done to encourage the British Indian community to vote for the Conservative Party. Bob starts by highlighting that when the Indian population emigrated to Britain from Uganda and East Africa it was under a British Conservative prime minister in Edward Heath. The only government who was willing to accept this large influx of Indian people. He goes on to argue that when comparing the values of the Indian community with the Conservative Party, they are remarkably similar.
Aashish Chandorkar from Bharatvaarta started by asking questions to the MP from the Indian perspective. This included anglo-indian relations in regards to foreign relations,a trade deal negotiated by Boris Johnson and the role of the Indian diaspora in the UK. Bob highlights that David Cameron and Boris Johnson were instrumental in developing a personal relationship with Narendra Modi and establishing a connection between these two governments.
Bob argues that with a new Global Britain approach, we should increase our connections to the Commonwealth through foreign relations and trade as an independent nation. He further goes on to state that it is not right of foreign parliaments to discuss internal politics of another state especially in the case of the Indian farming laws.
Rohit's last question to Bob was asking him how he felt when he was awarded the Padma Shri. Bob was initially shocked and had no previous knowledge of the award, ”looked it up on google to find out who has been awarded it in the past.” However he goes on to say that the award meant so much to him and he feels very proud to have it.
The last question put forward by Sunil Sharma is what role does the commonwealth itself play in the future relations for the UK. Bob tells us that the Commonwealth is a unique organisation that illustrates the history of Britain and that it can play a pivotal role in Global Britain.
Check out the full episode here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJFP6N7F3dc&t=18s