World UK and India step closer to trade deal, agreeing investment and migration pacts
SOS messages, panic as virus breaks India's health system
NEW DELHI (AP) — Dr. Gautam Singh dreads the daily advent of the ventilator beeps, signaling that oxygen levels are critically low, and hearing his critically ill patients start gasping for air in the New Delhi emergency ward where he works. Like other doctors across the country, which on Monday set another record for new coronavirus infections for a fifth day in a row at more than 350,000, the cardiologist has taken to begging and borrowing cylinders of oxygen just to keep his most critical patients alive for one more day.
By William James
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain and India announced 1 billion pounds ($1.39 billion) of private-sector investment and committed to seek a free trade deal as Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed a new era in bilateral relations on Tuesday.
Johnson held a virtual meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, replacing a trade visit he had to cancel last month due to surging COVID-19 cases in India.
Britain, the world's fifth largest economy, sees closer ties with India, the sixth biggest, as a key pillar of its post-Brexit push to seek trade and influence in the Indo-Pacific region and address growing Chinese dominance.
India's COVID-19 Crisis Is Spiraling Out of Control. It Didn't Have to Be This Way
The country is now facing the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreak, and a devastating humanitarian crisisScenes of mass death are now unavoidable in what’s often called the world’s largest democracy. Social media is filled with images of body bags and urgent requests for medical aid. Indians gasping for breath are being turned away from overwhelmed hospitals, sometimes simply because they don’t have lab reports confirming COVID-19 infection. Health workers plead for basic supplies. “We feel so angry,” says Kanchan Pandey, a community health worker in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh. “At least give us some masks and gloves.
"The agreements we have made today mark the beginning of a new era in the UK-India relationship,” Johnson said in a statement. “The UK and India share many fundamental values... There is a living bridge uniting the people of our countries."
India won independence from former colonial power Britain in 1947 and the two countries retain deep ties, with more than a million Britons claiming Indian origin.
The British government set out 533 million pounds of Indian investment into Britain, including 240 million by the Serum Institute for its vaccines and sales business, and 446 million pounds of export deals for British businesses.
A pact on migration sought to address friction between the two allies, in which Britain says there are too many Indians living illegally in Britain, and India says tens of thousands who come to Britain to study are denied job opportunities.
Opinion: India's Covid crisis has revealed the real Narendra Modi
Meenakshi Narula Ahamed writes that India's prime minister Narendra Modi's handling of the pandemic is endangering the country's public health but also its public institutions and democracy.By 2014, when Narendra Modi became prime minister of the world's largest democracy, India had long shed her image being one of the poorest nations teeming with starving and sick people in constant need of foreign aid. Under a team of pro-western reformers, India underwent an economic transformation in the 90's and by the early 2000's was being hailed as an economic powerhouse and an attractive partner for the western alliance.
That deal will provide enhanced employment prospects for 3,000 young Indian professionals annually, in return for India agreeing to take back any of its citizens who are living illegally in the UK.
The two countries also announced agreements on climate change, technology and pharmaceuticals.
TRADE AND JOBS
The investment announcement came alongside an "Enhanced Trade Partnership" agreement, and both sides committed to begin full trade talks in the autumn with the ambition to double existing bilateral trade by 2030.
The partnership deal will lift export barriers on goods ranging from British apples to medical devices, and open up India's legal services sector to UK firms. In return Britain agreed to improve access to its fisheries and nursing sectors.
The challenges of reaching a trade agreement were underlined by separate news on Tuesday that the EU and India had agreed to restart trade talks which have been stalled since 2013.
Some of the investments announced by Britain on Tuesday had already been made public. British estimates combined with data from the firms involved showed the deals would create more than 6,500 jobs in Britain.
(Reporting by William James in London and Alasdair Pal in New Delhi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Mark Heinrich)
Indians turn to black market, unproven drugs as virus surges .
NEW DELHI (AP) — Ashish Poddar kept an ice pack on hand as he waited outside a New Delhi hospital for a black market dealer to deliver two drugs for his father, who was gasping for breath inside with COVID-19. But the drugs never arrived, the ice that was intended to keep the medicines cool melted and his father died hours later. As India faces a devastating surge of new coronavirus infections overwhelming its health care system, people are turning to desperate measures to keep loved ones alive. (AP Photo, File) But the drugs never arrived, the ice that was intended to keep the medicines cool melted and his father died hours later.