London: India and the UK took forward their "special and unique" relationship in 2011 by consolidating cooperation in fields like counter-terrorism, defence and trade and identified ways to further develop their closer and stronger partnership.

The bilateral trade crossed the 13 billion-pound mark and the investment from Britain to India also increased substantially.

During the year, the investment from Britain to India was "20 times more than the previous year", a spokesman of the Indian House here said, without elaborating. The year also witnessed several Ministerial-level visits both from India to the UK and vice versa.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath and Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises Minister Praful
Patel visited the UK, while from Britain Defence Secretary Liam Fox was among those who travelled to India.

Krishna met British Secretary of State William Hague here on June 30 and discussed ways to further develop a closer and stronger partnership with the UK.

The then Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao also met Permanent Under Secretary in the British Foreign Office Simon Fraser and discussed a wide range of foreign policy matters like Afghanistan, Middle East, UNSC reform, counter-terrorism and climate change.

India and the UK share a special and unique relationship, bound by shared values and ties, including the ideals of democracy, the rule of law, inclusiveness and pluralism, an official statement issued after the meeting had said.

Finance Minister Mukherjee, who spoke at the Fourth Ministerial Level India-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue here on July 25, said the Dialogue, established in 2005, had contributed successfully towards strengthening bilateral relationship.

The two countries also agreed to work towards signing a Memorandum of Understanding which will enhance cooperation and deepen engagement between them in the areas like capacity building, land economics, heritage management, sustainable master planning and transport planning.

The decision was taken during a visit of Minister of Urban Development Kamal Nath to London on October 14. The two countries also entered a letter of arrangement to pursue collaborative Defence R & D Cooperation, to facilitate making the best use of respective research and technology development capability through joint projects, collaborative research and industry and academia participation.

The agreement marks a milestone in the technical collaboration between the two countries and a number of projects are being planned in the coming months.

Prince Charles unveiled a bust of the Indian poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore here on July 7, saying the Nobel laureate's work, especially his emphasis on harmony and preservation of the environment, is very relevant today.

The year 2011 also saw the passing away of two Indian icons, internationally renowned artist M F Husain and Bollywood's evergreen hero Dev Anand, in London.

Renowned Indian playback singer Asha Bhonsle was felicitated in the House of Commons here in March for her outstanding achievements in music.

NRI Labour MP Keith Vaz, who organised the felicitation dinner, described the 77-year old playback singer, who had won the Padma Vibhushan award, as an "icon" who made India proud.

In 2011, Indian companies' acquisitions in the UK included Essar Energy buying Shell's Stanlow refinery for USD 350 million for the assets, along with an estimated USD 780 million for its stock of crude and products.

In the hospitality sector, Subrata Roy, Chairman of Sahara India, bought the iconic Grosvenor House hotel for 470 million pounds from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Meanwhile, Tata Motors company Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) said it will invest 355 million pounds for a new facility in the UK to manufacture advanced engines which have
low-emissions.

"This is a major commitment for our company and we will produce advanced, highly-efficient engines for future Jaguar and Land Rover models at a new facility in the UK," Chief
Executive of JLR Ralf Speth said in a statement.

"As part of our long-term strategy for the JLR business, we will design, engineer and manufacture a new family of advanced engines," the statement said.

The investment will be made in tranches of 1.5 billion pounds a year for the next five years, the company said.

The engine manufacturing facility is expected to generate about 750 highly-skilled engineering and manufacturing jobs, along with a high number of posts in the supply chain sector. Besides, a new Chair in Contemporary Indian Studies is to be created at the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

(Agencies)