British Prime Minister David Cameron chose the information technology hub of Bangalore to start a visit which he hopes "drives our economic growth upwards and our unemployment figures downwards." The British leader made it clear that enhanced economic links with India topped his agenda.
While India's economy has shrugged off the global financial crisis and returned to high levels of growth, Britain is struggling to cope with the aftermath of the global recession. And there are fears that plans to cut public spending could increase unemployment.
Speaking at the campus of software company, Infosys, in Bangalore, Prime Minister Cameron said he believes boosting trade with India could help create more jobs in his country.
"This is a trade mission, yes, but I prefer to see it as a jobs mission. Indian companies employ 90,000 people in the UK. Many more jobs in Britain exist thanks to the activities of British companies in India," Cameron said. "Now I want to see thousands more jobs created in Britain, and of course in India through trade in the months and years ahead. That is the core purpose of my visit. "
Cameron called on India to lower trade barriers and allow easier access to British businesses, especially in areas such as banking, insurance and defense manufacturing.
The large delegation accompanying Prime Minister Cameron includes six ministers and dozens of senior executives of large British companies.
They have fanned out in different directions to emphasize the same message: Britain is serious about forging a new, special relationship with India.
British Business Secretary Vince Cable announced that the government will allow British companies to export civil nuclear technology to India. India was earlier barred from this because it is not a signatory to the nuclear non proliferation treaty.
In the financial hub of Mumbai, Britain's finance minister, George Osborne, rang the bell to start trading at the stock exchange. He hoped this would signal the beginning of a new partnership.
On Thursday, the British prime minister will hold talks with his Indian counterpart in New Delhi. Besides trade, the focus will also be on strengthening security ties.
Both countries will sign several agreements during his visit. This includes an already agreed upon deal for the purchase by India of 57 Hawk training jets worth nearly $800 million. Under the terms of the deal, India's Hindustan Aeronautics will assemble the jets in India.
Bilateral trade between the two countries is about $18 billion. But it is widely believed that India's growing economy offers greater potential for investment and trade for Britain.