Britain Keen to Bolster Defence Ties with India: Britain is looking to step up defence ties with India following the agreement between prime ministers from the two countries last month. France has so far taken the lead by far in building defence ties with India. It currently has an 18 per cent share of the Indian defence market, boosted massively by the Rafale order. Britain has just under 2 per cent of the Indian defence market, with Germany close behind at 1.7 per cent. Several other EU countries and the EU itself are looking to build new defence relations with India, particularly over common interests in the Indo-Pacific region, which has almost suddenly become everyone’s priority.
Tackling the Climate Crisis: President-designate of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) and former British business secretary Alok Sharma is due to visit Bangladesh this week to build support for a common global action plan to tackle climate change. The UN Climate Change Conference is due to be held in Glasgow in November this year. India is strongly on board with the political talks on climate change but is a long way yet from getting rid of coal. That issue awaits Alok Sharma and others at the climate change conference. “Last week, the G7 made history with a major step forward towards consigning coal to history and moving to a decarbonised power system,” Sharma said ahead of the visit. “But tackling the climate crisis must be a global effort, which leaves no one behind.”
Rupee Takes a ‘Pounding’: In yet another twist to matters between India and Britain, the pound has gained considerably against the rupee on the strength of the UK’s extensive vaccination programme, and the consequent upgrading of economic forecasts for Britain from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a grouping of 30 rich nations). But the variant of the coronavirus that emerged from India, now called Delta, could derail all that if it were to extend the lockdown and in so doing delay Britain’s economic recovery. The next two weeks will be critical in pointing which way Delta goes in Britain. It must fall for Britain’s economy to rise.
Drive against Vaccine Hesitancy: The British government is planning to make vaccination compulsory for all medical staff. This is being considered after a fair degree of vaccine hesitancy among staff particularly from some minority groups, including particularly staff with origins in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. A motivation drive using peers from these groups as models has found only limited success. The government has held vaccination camps in temples and mosques to promote vaccination among minority groups. But vaccination among medical staff themselves has been low compared to the average.
Delta Challenge for Lockdown Easing: Scotland has put the brakes on an easing of lockdown in the face of the spread of the Delta variant of the virus that was first identified in India. And that almost certainly points the way England will go over its easing of lockdown scheduled for June 21. Scotland has eased restrictions only selectively in different areas depending on the spread of Delta. A meeting to decide whether the June 21 easing of the lockdown should proceed as planned in England will be held on June 14.