Home Contact Us  
   

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4919, 6 October 2015
 

Spotlight West Asia

Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
Ranjit Gupta
Distinguished Fellow, IPCS, former Indian Ambassador to Yemen and Oman, and former Member, National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), India
 

Over the past four decades, the GCC countries have become India’s preeminent oil suppliers, and leading trade partners, with 8 million Indians living and working there who send annual remittances worth $40 billion back home. Indians have been the largest expatriate group in each of the six GCC countries. Even though West Asia has increasingly been in turmoil, over the past four years, the numbers have continued to increase steadily. Being predominantly Muslim countries where internal security is a major concern, now more so than ever, these facts are an enormous vote of confidence in Indians and India.

No major power has the kind of people-to-people socio-cultural compatibility and socio-economic interdependence with the GCC countries that India does. Anti-terrorism cooperation and intelligence sharing has been very satisfactory. There are no bilaterally contentious issues. Both the GCC countries and Iran have consciously de-hyphenated their relationship with India from the Pakistan and Israeli factors.

Thus, though hardly recognised, India’s most meaningful and best external relationship is with the GCC countries despite India having invested the least time, effort, energy and time to it as compared to Pakistan, China, the US or the immediate neighbourhood.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally invested immense energy in strengthening India’s international relationships; but the Gulf region of West Asia, so critical to India’s national interest, security and wellbeing, was inexplicably left out for a long time. His hugely successful landmark visit to the UAE has finally begun addressing this glaring lacuna. The high regard for India was on full display by various gestures, specific elements of the programme, and the contents of the particularly significant joint statement; the Indian prime minister reciprocated with his usual aplomb in word and action. The UAE is actively involved in the war against the Houthis in Yemen and, to a lesser extent, in supporting anti-Assad groups in Syria; India is against such foreign interventions; both sides put forth their respective stands and it is noteworthy that this considerable divergence of opinion did not stand in the way of the visit’s extremely satisfying outcome. In contrast, ‘special friend’ Pakistan is in the doghouse for not supporting UAE and Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

India’s relationships with the GCC countries, Iran and Israel began growing simultaneously in the early 1990s and really took off in the first decade of the current millennium. Based on mutual benefit and advantage, they developed in parallel without impinging on each other. Modi, in his 15 August interview with the Dubai-based Khaleej Times, very rightly pointed out that “India is uniquely blessed to have good relations with all countries in the region. I have always believed that regional or bilateral problems are best solved by the countries involved. We have often seen the consequences of outside interference. India has always abided by the principle of non-interference in other countries and has consistently supported dialogue as a means to resolve all issues.”

Modi should visit Saudi Arabia and Iran before becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to pay an official visit to Israel. This is a welcome and long overdue step; India needs to be open and self-confident about this vitally important relationship.

Many in India’s strategic community advocate India displaying greater activism including exercising a ‘leadership role’ without suggesting any specific actions to be taken. The indisputable reality is that anything that India says or does will not even marginally influence the actions of any individual player or outcomes on the ground in the context of the highly complicated political and security situation in West Asia. India does not have the institutional capacity, is not structurally equipped, and lacks national political consensus for the huge strategic leap required for such a role yet. Policy should always be consciously tempered by a mature recognition of the limits of one’s capabilities and influence at any given point of time. Reticence or so called policy passivity in a particularly unpredictably changing and volatile environment does not reflect an absence of decision making, an abdication of ‘leadership’, or of being a ‘freeloader’. It is simply being sensibly prudent. India’s non-intrusive, low-profile, pragmatic approach has yielded very satisfying results and there is absolutely no need to change the broad contours of this policy.

Prime Minister Modi has exhibited a unique ability to establish particularly close personal relationships with the heads of state/government of countries he has visited or has otherwise met. Nowhere in the world does this particular attribute have greater potential for India to realise hugely beneficial dividends and more quickly than with the GCC countries where the rulers personally formulate policies. But India needs to dramatically improve its implementation mechanisms to take meaningful advantage of the GCC countries’ initiatives and investments. Interacting with them at heads of government/ministerial levels much more frequently on a consistent basis should become standard policy. In doing so, advantage should be taken of their proximate locations, formality and protocol; and the quest for deliverables should be replaced by the desirability of forging close personal relationships by simply dropping in for a day or so for informal conversations; this approach will pay rich  dividends.

India needs very strong relationships with Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia/ the GCC countries simultaneously and it is absolutely imperative that they are seen to be balanced; and hence, the singular importance of coherent messaging to them. The only way to maintain this is by continuing the focus on mutual advantage and benefit, remaining non-intrusive and non-judgmental, and strictly abjuring taking sides in regional disputes or exhibiting conspicuous partiality amongst them. 

*Please see the 02 June 2014 entry (#4483) in the author's IPCS column, Spotlight West Asia, titled 'Looking West: Bridging the Gulf with the GCC'.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 
Related Articles
Ranjit Gupta,
"Looking West: Bridging the Gulf with the GCC," 2 June 2014
Related Publications
IPCS Forecasts: West Asia in 2015
Ranjit Gupta
Special Report 168

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
India-UAE: An Emerging Special Relationship

West Asia Six Years After the ‘Arab Spring’: Prognosis for 2017

Trump and West Asia: Reading the Tea Leaves

Battle for Mosul: Prospects for the Immediate Future

The Battle for Aleppo and the Imminent Regional Shifts

Will the US-Russia Deal on Syria Hold?

Russia: The New and Unexpected Power Broker in West Asia

Countering IS: Should India be More Assertively Involved in West Asia?

Iran, India and Chabahar: Recalling the Broader Context

West Asia, US, and Obama’s Statesman-like Legacy

Modi in Saudi Arabia: Consolidating Ties in West Asia

Current Syrian Peace Processes Sterile: A New Approach Needed

Forecast 2016: West Asia

Turkey's Ambitions and the War in Syria

Potential Implications of Russia’s Military Involvement in Syria

A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?

US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance

King Salman: The Boldest Ever Saudi Monarch?

Yemen: Why the Current Strife will Continue

Saudi Arabia and Evolving Regional Strategic Dynamics

New Leadership Lineup in Saudi Arabia: Reading the Tea Leaves

IPCS Forecast: West Asia in 2015

Rise of the Islamic State: Implications for the Arab World

Islamic State: The Efficacy of Counter-strategies

War against the Islamic State: Political and Military Responses from the Region

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.