Rethinking the Gulf
Mains Paper 4: International Relations
Prelims level: Gulf Countries
Mains level: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving
India and/or affecting
- India’s relations with the key Gulf countries have never been as
good as they are today.
- The deepening energy interdependence is marked by growing volumes
of energy imports into India and the prospect of substantive investments
from the Gulf into the Indian hydrocarbon sector.
- The number of Indian migrant workers in the region stands at more
than 7 million. The Gulf is among India’s top trading partners.
Relation between Gulf countries and India
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma
Swaraj have travelled frequently to the Gulf and there has been a steady
stream of senior Gulf leaders visiting India.
- The expansion of the political engagement has been matched by the
growing security cooperation, especially on counter-terrorism.
- India and its Gulf partners are also taking tentative steps
towards defence cooperation.
- There is no question that Delhi’s political neglect of the Gulf
has ended during the last few years.
- Yet, India’s relations with the Gulf have been constrained by too
strong a focus on the bilateral.
- Delhi is paying too little attention to the growing weight of the
Gulf in regional affairs and the strategic possibilities that it opens up
- Saudi Arabia has long been a pivotal state.
As the nation with one of the world’s largest petroleum reserves and
capable of modulating its oil production, Riyadh has played a critical role
in shaping the world energy markets since the 1970s.
- As the home to Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia has a unique place
in the Islamic world.
- Since the late 1960s, Riyadh has exercised significant political
influence in the evolution of the Middle East.
Rising of UAE
- The rise of the UAE, in contrast, has been less noticed.
- What differentiates the UAE from other petrostates is a rare
purposefulness that has turned it into a strategic actor of consequence in
the Middle East and beyond.
- The cathartic events of 9/11 and the Arab Spring have convinced
Abu Dhabi that it must act boldly and generate the capabilities to survive
amidst the regional turbulence.
- Consider for a moment the defence budget of the UAE.
- Some reports put it around $22 billion, which is nearly 40 per
cent of India’s defence spending of about $52 billion.
- The UAE was the fourth-largest importer of weapons during 2013-17.
- The UAE is also a major player in the global logistics market,
thanks to the successful development of Dubai as a major port and aviation
- It is now striving to emerge as a centre of art, higher education
and technological innovation.
- As the home to multiple nationalities from around the world, the
UAE has become a small but important cosmopolitan centre.
Impacts in the Indian Ocean region
- The growing impact of the Gulf countries in the Indian Ocean
- Nowhere is this more evident than the Horn of Africa.
- The recent success of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in brokering peace
between Ethiopia and Eritrea who had been locked in a prolonged conflict
underlines the positive role of the Gulf in Africa.
- Others point to the destabilising impact of the rivalry between
Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the one hand and Qatar and Turkey elsewhere in
the region, most notably in Somalia and its rebel provinces.
- Alliances, military bases, interventions and peace-making have
long been considered as the preserve of great powers.
- The Gulf countries today are bringing a combination of financial
resources and political will to shape the geopolitics of their neighbouring
- Some of the Gulf countries like the UAE are eager to collaborate
with India on development assistance and the construction of strategic
infrastructure in the Indian Ocean littoral.
- If India continues to be disinterested, they are bound to look for
other partners. The Gulf states have relied in the past on the
Anglo-Americans for their security.
- As America and Britain gaze at their own navel, the Gulf states
are taking greater responsibility for managing the regional order.
- The conditions under which India could afford to take a purely
bilateral approach to the Gulf nations are beginning to disappear.
- India needs an integrated regional strategy to secure its
ever-rising stakes in the Middle East and the Western Indian Ocean.1
Q.1) Recently India signed COMCASA agreement. What is the benefit for
signing this agreement?
A. India will automatically become member of NSG.
B. India will automatically become member of UNSC.
C. It allows India to procure transfer specialized equipment for encrypted
communications for US origin.
D. It allows India to procure transfer specialized equipment for encrypted
communications for Russia origin.
Q.1) How India maintain relation with Gulf countries as per domination in
Indian Ocean region?