Boris Johnson arrives in India for touting anti-Russia sanctions
The western pressures on India to bandwagon the draconian sanctions campaign against Russia continue.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrived in India Thursday promoting job-creating investment but facing long odds to get his counterpart Narendra Modi to back Western action against Russia.
Johnson arrived in Gujarat -- Modi's home state and the ancestral home to half of the United Kingdom's British Indians -- where he is meeting business leaders and taking a cultural tour of the historic Ahmedabad city.
He will leave for New Delhi to meet his Indian counterpart on Friday, providing Johnson some respite from the "partygate" controversy over his criminal violation of pandemic lockdown rules.
Johnson will miss a parliamentary vote on Thursday into whether he deliberately misled the House of Commons in previously denying any Downing Street rule-breaking -- normally a resigning matter.
Two-way investment deals worth more than £1 billion
The India trip has been twice postponed because of Covid-19 flare-ups in each country and was briefly in doubt again this week when the vote was announced, with opposition leaders insisting Johnson stand down.
But UK sources said it was seen as too important to put off again. Downing Street said it would seal two-way investment deals worth more than £1 billion ($1.3 billion), creating almost 11,000 jobs in Britain.
"What we're focusing on today is the incredible opportunities to deepen this partnership," Johnson told reporters while visiting a factory in Gujarat.
India, Russia have a very different relationship
Downing Street said the visit would yield new partnerships on defense, artificial intelligence, and green energy, along with investment deals in areas including robotics, electric vehicles, and satellite launches.
India, meanwhile, has refused openly to condemn the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, reliant as it is on Russian imports of energy, agricultural goods, and military hardware.
"India and Russia have historically a very different relationship, perhaps than Russia and the UK have had over the last couple of decades," Johnson said.
"We have to reflect that reality, but clearly I'll be talking about it to Narendra Modi," he added.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss came away from New Delhi empty-handed last month when she pressed the Indians to do more against Russia, and Modi has also ignored appeals from US President Joe Biden.
Moving more quickly toward renewables
Johnson will promote the benefits of India moving more quickly toward renewables -- a pertinent strategic issue as countries attempt to pivot away from Russian energy.
"Both our countries are excessively reliant on foreign hydrocarbons. And we need to move away from that together," he said.
According to the British PM, "One of the things that we're talking about is what we can do to build partnerships on hydrogen, on electric vehicles, on offshore wind, on all the ways that you can reduce the cost of energy for people with green technology."
The UK also has a sizeable Sikh community, and its leaders have been demanding that Johnson raise the case of Scotsman Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been detained without trial in India for more than four years.
India demands an apology from UK over massacre
During his visit, Johnson is expected to face requests to apologize for a colonial-era massacre in which up to 1,200 people were slaughtered in a protest against imperial authority a century ago.
Last month marked the centenary of the Pal-Dadhvav massacre, when 2,000 tribal people headed by social reformer Motilal Tejawat assembled to protest exploitation, forced labor, and exorbitant taxes, according to Indian historians.