12 April 2024 : Daily Answer Writing

Q1) Bilateralism has helped India in building robust ties with the countries of West Asia, but strategic approach is the key to overcome the challenges in cooperation and collaboration.

(250 Words/ 15 Marks)

ANS

India and West Asia share long civilizational links and convergence of interest on issues of global ramifications. India’s has enhanced engagement with the West Asian region through mutually beneficial bilateral ties:

  1. Deepening trade ties:
  2. Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement signed between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) shows robust trade ties.
  3. Joint Working Groups (JWG) between India and Saudi Arabia under the economy and investment pillar of Strategic Partnership Council (SPC).
  4. Large sovereign wealth funds of the West Asian countries and a dynamic/growing market of India presents unique complementarities.

E.g., Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia.

  1. India and Israel are actively deepening their bilateral relationship through partnership in various diverse sectors.

E.g., innovation and start-ups; defense cooperation; sustainable farming practices etc.

  1. Indian has leveraged its bilateral relations with several West Asian countries to ensure the welfare of its strong diaspora in the region.
  2. Bilateral strategic ties:
  3. Bilateral relations have allowed India to gain strategic depth.

E.g., India has secured access to the strategic Port of Duqm in Oman; bilateral exercise Naseem-Al-Bahar.

  1. The stable bilateral relations have helped India to secure its long-term energy security.

E.g., long-term contract to purchase 7.5 million tonnes of LNG from Qatar.

  1. Positive bilateral relations have enabled India to leverage SLOCs and global choke points (Strait of Hormuz, Bab-al-Mandeb etc.) in its favor.
  2. Fields of space, medical tourism etc., have opened new avenues of cooperation.

E.g., India is helping UAE in developing its space sector.

  1. Bilateral engagements have also aided India to curb the menace of extremism and radicalization.

E.g., like minded countries like Egypt, Jordan gives opportunities to tackle terrorism.

 

Despite these symbiotic complementarities, India’s relation with West Asia is marred by the certain geo-political hurdles:

  1. China and Pakistan:
  2. Strategically China’s increasing footprints in the region may cast a long shadow on India’s interests.

E.g., China recently concluded a deal between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.; China with its hard cash and military prowess (Global Development Initiative) is continuously making inroads into West Asia.

  1. OIC has acted like a mouth-piece of Pakistan, interfering in bilateral Kashmir issue.
  2. Sharpening cultural identities and rising religious fundamentalism.

E.g., comments against Prophet Mohammad sparked controversies.

  1. Internal contradictions:
  2. Shia- Iran’s problem with Sunni-Saudi Arabia, Arab world-Israel tensions, Israel – Palestine issue etc., may limit the scope for strategic engagement with the region as a whole.
  3. Internal security situation in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
  4. West vs Iran dilemma: Failure of JCPOA; unilateral sanctions of USA; have had negative consequences for the security situation in West Asia.
  5. Indian diaspora faces inhumane working condition. Kafala and Nitaqat have increased woes of Indian immigrants.
  6. Religious fundamentalism (ISIS, Kurdish rebels, chaos in Yemen etc.), organized crime, drug trafficking, etc. have bearing on India’s energy security.

 

To bolster engagement further with West Asia, India needs to take concerted strategic steps:

  1. Multilateral strategic engagements should be prioritized.

E.g., I2U2.

  1. Dedicated steps to revive and further the plurilateral initiatives for connectivity. E.g., INSTC.
  2. India needs to actively promote initiatives for peace and stability in the region, reducing internal contradictions.

E.g., Abraham accords.

  1. India should deepen its role as net security provider, protecting SLOCs from piracy and acting as first responder of HADR.

E.g., India’s role in HADR post Turkey’s earthquake.

  1. Mutual respect should be shown towards the security/sovereignty concerns of one-another.

India needs to take concerted efforts like Look West Policy, SAGAR, following a de-hyphenated policy etc., to augment relations with the West Asian region as a whole.

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