​Commonwealth now not displays British Empire: UK minister

LONDON: The no longer reflects the and the UK welcomes India taking a more strategic role in it, UK’s junior minister for the Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad, has said.

Speaking ahead of the Commonwealth Summit, which starts on Monday, Lord Ahmad of told TOI: “Whilst historically it reflects back on the relationships that had with countries across what was the British Empire, today‘s Commonwealth is this incredibly diverse group of 53 nations which reflects a very different reality, that is based on equal partnerships.

“There are countries such as Rwanda who are members who were not part of the British Empire and we have got to look forwards not backwards. We have a secretary-general to the Commonwealth elected through each member casting an equal vote.”

The Conservative life peer added: “It is the first time in many years we are seeing an Indian PM attend the Commonwealth summit, which demonstrates India’s commitment to the Commonwealth. It is up to India to decide their role. We would welcome India playing a very strategic and leading role in the Commonwealth.”

The UK-born minister, whose mother hails from Jodhpur and whose father is from Qadian in , said: “If you look at the opening up of India over recent years, its advancement in areas of technology and how it’s thriving in cooperation on cyber, these present opportunities where India has a role to play.

“One of the great successes of the Commonwealth historically has been how countries have moved to gaining and sustaining independence. India is a living working shining example of that,” the ex-banker said.

“It is 19% cheaper to trade with a Commonwealth country than another because of things like speaking the same language and common legal jurisprudence,” Lord Ahmad added.

One of the items on the agenda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which opens on Thursday, is reform of the Commonwealth. When asked if that meant the Queen would give up her position as head, he said: “That is speculation. The Queen is and remains he head of Commonwealth and long may she reign over it. There is nothing on the agenda specific to talk about that.” Reform meant “making it a more effective institution”.

He added with 53 government leaders in town “it is the biggest international meeting the UK and London has ever hosted” but “Britain prides itself on our security.”

supporters are laying on coaches to bring people to stage a counter-protest to the protests planned against Modi’s visit on April 18.

Get latest news & live updates on the go on your pc with . Download The for your device. in English and other languages.