The lowdown on the India – UK standoff on travel restrictions

Revised Guidelines For Indian National Travelling To UK

Hours after India reciprocated UK’s travel restrictions on passengers from the UK, the British High Commission responded saying it was working with the Central Government to make the travel possibilities from India as easy as possible.

The High Commission also stated that it was cooperating with the Centre to recognise vaccine certifications by a relevant public health body in India. 

Revised guidelines for UK nationals arriving in India on October 1, 2021 was fully withdrawn, with an earlier guidelines dated February 17, 2021 was applicable for those arriving to India from the UK, the ministry of health said in a new order.

What Led To The Travel Restrictions On Indians?

The UK-India travel tussle had been going for weeks on prior to the reversal from both the countries, where UK had imposed travel restrictions by listing many countries in their red list with India being one and India reciprocating the same. India, then, termed the rules as discriminatory as Covishield, manufactured by Pune’s Serum Institute of India, was just a formulation of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The government also stated that India exported Covishield vaccines to the UK. 

India’s restriction on UK travelers was a retaliatory move as the government had warned foreign nations. Their strict rules imposed from October 4th was applicable for all UK nationals irrespective of their vaccination status. India had said that all foreign nationals from the UK would have to undergo a mandatory 10-day quarantine period if they were fully vaccinated from COVID-19. This statement came out after the UK had imposed the same for people that were vaccinated with Covishield.

UK Backtracks On Earlier Statement, India Reciprocates

Earlier this month, the UK said that eligible travellers from 37 countries, including India and Pakistan, will be treated the same as fully vaccinated UK residents, so long as they have not visited a red list country or territory in the 10 days prior to arriving to the UK.

India had made it clear to all foreign nations that it would take severe actions to whichever nation undermines India’s vaccination policy and reciprocate travel restrictions for that nations’s residents. The United Kingdom on late September issued an updated red list of nations which included countries like India and Brazil and this action immediately propelled India to reciprocate travel restrictions on UK nationals irrespective of their vaccination status.

The Launch Of AUKUS Agreement

This silly war also coincides with the launch of AUKUS, a defense strategy between Australia, the United States of America and the United Kingdom to provide defense support to Australia through nuclear propelled submarines. India was excluded from this reform, while India was a part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) which was formed to reiterate plans for restoring free and open Indo-Pacific over increasing pressure from China.

The AUKUS restricts India from gaining critical technologies and network sharing. This alliance would increase the military stronghold of China near Indian territory. increasing pressure to reciprocate the same to protect its disputed borders.

Show of strength amongst exclusionism

With all these political and national issues surrounding India throughout the year, India has taken a strict stand on imposing and implementing strategies to show its global strength and prowess by reciprocating and retaliating against countries that posed a threat to the nation.

Coming back to the situation surrounding travel restrictions, if the policy to red list India in its restricted zones by the UK, the country would have had major repercussions because of India’s reciprocation. The UK, after Brexit, requires trade links to India to improve its economic status and with the 140 crore India people across the world and many Indians being positioned in various departments of the health and finance industries, these issues might and would affect world economy as a whole.

India’s response and repercussions for world economy

Some might say that the Indian government has been ineffective throughout this crisis, its calculation and approach on maintaining its stand as a global superpower and how it has maintained and see-sawed its way to gaining what it requires shows that the government has kept its focus on international affairs while also handling the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath domestically.

If these foreign ties were damaged, the repercussions of the world economy would prove a major issue for the biggest countries around the world to ignore the value India brings to the world economy. It’s fast growing economy and foreign policies have sky rocketed India as a superpower and it seems like it will stay there for a long time. The India-UK travel standoff has just been an example of exerting each other’s authority in world politics.