The recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to UAE marked the beginning of the renewed engagement with the Gulf region.
The visit spurred a wave among international analysts to understand the diplomatic policies of both the nations and to predict the impact of the recent meeting. In order to explore the contours of future engagement, Oval foundation organised a round table session with P R Kumaraswamy, faculty member, JNU and Ishrat Aziz, former Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Tunisia as the key speakers.
Geographically speaking, gulf lies 1400 km away from India and happens to be the most convenient and pre-eminent supplier of oil.
Focusing on trade relations with the region Aziz in his speech said, “India will need 10 per cent growth rate for next 15 years to emerge as a developed nation and it will need the energy to attain that. Gulf countries supply 70 per cent of India’s energy needs which makes it the country’s vital trade partner. The region also houses seven million Indians.”However, Swamy in his speech commended Modi’s move to select UAE, as the action will enhance economic and trade relation with the country.
“Mundane issues like agriculture, waste management, Ganges cleanliness will serve as an engine of change in today’s era. Modi’s diplomatic strategy focuses mainly on economic growth. Gulf comprises of small countries with an abundance of resources, but they face paucity in terms of security. India being the significant global power, emerging next door can help them ensure its impending energy and security concerns.’’
Ultimately, all the arguments faced the same question, should India maintain its status quo in its foreign policy or should it take a step forward and be more pro-active in the Gulf region.