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A rising India needs to work with Western nations to find new ground to further strengthen a relationship that has already delivered considerable global political benefits and economic gains, India’s former foreign secretary, Dr S Jaishankar said at the University of Birmingham on Thursday (25).

He was delivering the University of Birmingham India Institute’s inaugural distinguished lecture on his country’s relationship with western nations.

He told the audience that working with the west was an essential means for India to continue to flourish in an increasingly fragmented world, adding that our turbulent times could create new opportunities to find common ground.

Dr Jaishankar, who is now President, Global Corporate Affairs, Tata Group, explored ‘What India means to the West’, with unique insights from his time as Foreign Secretary of India, and Indian Ambassador to the United States, China, and the Czech Republic.

He further noted, “it would be in western interest that India emerge more rapidly as a source of global demand and supply, thereby reducing excessive dependence on any single geography. There are larger political principles to prove by ensuring India’s success. It will affirm that democratic politics and high growth economics are not mutually exclusive, as well as establishing that democratic values are global and not just Western.”

After delivering his lecture, Ambassador Jaishankar participated in a discussion panel featuring University of Birmingham chancellor Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea, consul general India Dr Aman Puri and Professor Scott Lucas, from the University’s Department of Political Science and International Studies.

“In a post-Brexit world, collaboration between UK and India is only expected to increase. As the British economy addresses crises in terms of shortage of skilled manpower, linkages between British and Indian universities and institutions can help tap into the huge pool of English-speaking professionals available in India,” said Puri speaking on the occasion.

The India Institute was established in January 2018 and brings Birmingham and India closer together to deliver impactful research, create innovative education initiatives and extend the University’s influence across the globe.

The university’s relationship with India began in 1909 with the first cohort of Indian students attending the University to study for degrees in Mining and Commerce. Since then, the university has provided education to many outstanding Indian alumni.