Economy, not religion, binds India & Arab ties


Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu with his hosts in Qatar Photo Credit Twitter VP Secretariat

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By Manish Anand


Now that the fury over the social media storm over the obnoxious comments of the former Bharatiya Janata Party spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Navin Jindal over their commentaries on the founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammad, subside, the truth of the geo-strategic realities that India and the Arab world walk hand-in-hand on economy and security realms outshines the momentary clouds.

Indian ties with the Arab world have been deepening despite Pakistan’s nuisance as a jilted lover while there being no takers for its only nuclear-armed Islamic country claims.

Unlike Pakistan where the ruling elite, the Army, has been using religion as a card to perpetuate stranglehold on the country to cut down the political class as a subservient class, the Arabian world being closer to Europe remains committed to the argument that economy is the base of all edifice.

Arab world’s nervousness had been bared when the crude oil had crashed below USD 30 per barrel not long ago, and currently is making the windfall gains from the Russian invasion of Ukraine sending the crude oil soaring past USD 120 billion, further fueling the global inflation to unprecedented levels.

India with over 130 crore population, on course to overtake China in the next two decades or lesser, is one of the largest consumers of the oil produced by the Arabian world.

Also, the United Arab Emirates, Soudi Arabia, Oman Jordan, Bahrain have well been aware that the future economy will not be dependent on fossil fuels as the people become fast aware of the power of technology as the disruptor of the old ways of doing business. Predictably, the regimes in such countries are speedily diversifying their economies.

Social media storms may cloud memories sometimes, but it must be recalled that India in the recent few years has become a strategic security partners with many of the Arabian countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The regular naval and air exercises are the natural offshoots of the growing warm ties with the Arab world.

It may also be recalled that the key leaders of the Islamic countries have been stepping up their investments in India. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have richly invested in building the strategic oil reserves in India.

Besides, the large economies of the Arab world are key source of the global capital, which has been flowing into the equity markets of the US, emerging economies, India and elsewhere.

Arab countries aren’t Pakistan to be the crybaby of religion.

The UAE has in fact bolted from the web of world order untouchability to ink a strategic pact with Israel, which is dubbed a pariah in the Muslim countries.

India, Israel, US and the UAE are the quadrilateral partners working for multi-faceted ties, with thrust on economy and security.

Indeed, the nupur Sharma and Navin Jindal syndrome is unforgivable. They are the harvest of the garbage. They deserve to be behind the bars for violating various sections of the Indian Penal Code to fan animosity among communities to disturb peace and order. The BJP has also learnt the lesson hard way, and has accordingly told its leaders to remember the ‘Luxman Rekha’ in their public utterances.

When the world order is in reset and the global climate change poses existential threat, the Arab world would realise that India is a pivot to offer the solutions as it takes lead in the decarbonization efforts.

The first signs of the climate change are visible in the looming food crisis, which may send many countries looking for foodgrains. India over the years by the strength of her toiling farmers has built a resilient agriculture and it as been seen that New Delhi was being looked upon by the developed, developing and the poor countries when the Russian invasion of Ukraine created a world shortage for wheat. The Arabian world is also a net importer of Indian agricultural produces.

While the Arabian countries transform their economies and cities, the Indian talent pool and the top-notch IT companies are the change-agents, laying down the digital infrastructure for these countries to be future ready.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and others know well that Europe lost the world power heft of the 19th and the 20th century only on account of the economic scale shifting base several thousand miles away to the US and China. That change isn’t stagnant, and it continues to further evolve to make India a pivot in the new world order.

No one picks up a fight with a rising power. Qatar wants more closer ties with India than that New Delhi has with the UAE.

Wasn’t Qatar nudging India to move for a gas-based economy during the Manmohan Singh-led UPA dispensation at the Centre.

Isn’t the Bawana power plant in Delhi was conceived as a gas-based unit while Qatar was to provide the gas. That plant never took off, and the fuel had later to be changed.

(Manish Anand is a senior journalist with about 20 years of covering Indian politics while also being a commentator on India’s foreign affairs. He will be regularly writing for The Raisina Hills)

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