UK may pick a woman as high commissioner to India. India did it 70 years ago

Lindy Cameron, former CEO of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, (NCSC)
Lindy Cameron, former CEO of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, (NCSC)

Summary

Lindy Cameron's appointment as the new British high commissioner in New Delhi is expected at a time of growing closeness in the India-UK relationship

NEW DELHI : Former chief of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, Lindy Cameron, is tipped to become the country’s new high commissioner to India.

Should her appointment be confirmed, Cameron will be the first woman to serve as the British high commissioner in New Delhi. 

Alex Ellis, who served as high commissioner until this month, will move on to Spain for his next posting. In the interim, senior diplomat Christina Scott is currently serving as acting high commissioner.

If Cameron is picked, the appointment will come a full 70 years after India first sent a woman as its high commissioner to the UK.

New Delhi appointed Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit to head its high commission in London back in 1954. She remained in the job until 1961.

Cameron has previously held numerous positions within the UK’s international development department, including as director general for country programmes. An Oxford graduate, Cameron served in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

In recent years, a number of senior women diplomats have come to hold Britain’s top diplomatic positions abroad. These include envoys to Washington, Beijing, Paris, Tokyo and Berlin.

The British high commission did not provide a formal comment in response to a Mint query. Cameron’s appointment is expected at a time of growing closeness in the India-UK relationship. 

“Total trade in goods and services (exports plus imports) between the UK and India was £38.1 billion in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2023, an increase of 8.7% or £3.0 billion in current prices from the four quarters to the end of Q3 2022," reported the UK’s department for business and trade. 

India is now the UK’s 12th largest trade partner. India and the UK are also negotiating a free trade agreement that could be signed this year. 

The two countries are also working to strengthen their partnership in defence.

During defence minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to London earlier this year, the two sides opened up new possibilities on security. His counterpart Grant Shapps announced plans to send the country’s Littoral Response Group to the Indian Ocean and its Carrier Strike Group in 2025. 

London also launched a bespoke office focused on India to boost defence ties. Despite the UK being a major defence supplier to India in the years after Independence in 1947, the relationship weakened after the Soviet Union emerged as India’s preferred defence partner. 

As New Delhi moves to diversify its defence purchases, the UK has thus far not featured as a key supplier in recent years. With an eye on the future, New Delhi and London agreed a deal that will boost research and development into next-generation defence capabilities. 

The two countries will also look to solidify an agreement on logistical support that is expected to make joint operations and exercises easier between the armed forces of the two countries.

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