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Chapter: 12th Political Science : Chapter 9 : India and the World

India-European Union Relations

The period of colonialism ushered in a time of intense contact between India and Europe.

India-European Union Relations

The period of colonialism ushered in a time of intense contact between India and Europe. Even people belonging to non-colonial European nations came to India to “work among the masses” or to study Indian culture, and their contributions to social development, education and healthcare in India are significant. There was not only an exchange of ideas and technology, but the culture and ethos of both these entities were mutually influenced, notwithstanding the fact that this was a period of economic exploitation of the colonised by the colonisers. One of the things that permeated the Indian ethos was a sense of nationhood, which soon, by the early 20th century, led to an overwhelming desire and movement for independence.

In 1498, Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama succeeded in finding a sea route to India from Europe which opened the doors for direct trade between Europe and India.


Post-Independence (1947-Current)

By the end of World War II, the European powers were no longer in a position to continue to stay in control of the Indian sub-continent and so withdrew, leaving colonial India as two nations, divided on the basis of religion.

BREXIT (Britain’s Exit)

After months of negotiation, the UK and EU agreed a Brexit deal at Brussels summit.

What is Brexit?

Brexit is a term used to denote Britain’s Exit.

·           Brexit is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU), following a referendum held on 23 June 2016 in which 51.9 per cent of those voting supported leaving the EU.

·           The invocation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty set a two-year process which was due to conclude with the UK’s exit on 29 March 2019.

·           On 21 March 2019 the European Council agreed to the UK’s request to extend the deadline and extended it to 12 April 2019.

After Independence in 1947, India continued to be closely involved with Europe, primarily with the UK, as part of the Commonwealth of Nations. India’s relations with the rest of Europe were hued by the Cold War. India espoused a Non-Aligned stance which was viewed with distrust and her closeness to the Soviet Union after the war with China in 1962 led to a further schism. Engagement in trade, technology, education did exist but were in low key till India instituted liberalization in 1991.

In 1994, the India -EU Cooperation Agreement was signed which made India one of the first countries in the world to engage with the EU as an entity. In 2004 the EU-India Strategic Partnership was concluded. However, the attempts since 2007 to arrive at a free trade agreement have been deadlocked since 2013. The EU was India’s largest trading partner in 2018-19 with USD 104.3 billion in bilateral trade, but BREXIT might impact that going forward.

Another issue in the EU-India relationship which the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility seeks to address is preventing illegal migration and streamlining mobility for citizens.

The EU and India have some common interests other than trade – preventing climate change, maintenance of the Iran nuclear deal, increased cooperation in education and technology including nuclear energy. The EU model of federal democratic government with devolved state power should be of interest to India who has to deal with a federal structure and a multicultural society too.



India- European Union

Why India needs resources and expertise from the European Union? Discuss.

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