Ever since assuming office in May 2014, the BJP led NDA government has been grabbing headlines with its Act Easy Policy on FDI. However, another area in which the government is showing a keen interest in strengthening its political and economic ties with the Gulf States. It is facilitating this by arranging more than a few Prime ministerial visits to the region in 2015.
When compared to former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh who visited the Gulf only twice during the 10 years of his tenure, the man at the helm of the affairs now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has plans to visit more than one Gulf country this year alone. The external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has already visited the region twice last year.
So what can be the reason for the Indian government’s increased interest in the Gulf States? Here are some possible reasons why.
Contribution to domestic growth
The six Gulf States are the primary suppliers of crude oil to India. In addition to this, they also house over 7 million Indian migrant workers, a factor which helps the domestic economy grow significantly.
More liberal policies
Each of the six Gulf States offers significant importance to India and its growth. Bahrain’s liberal economic policies favor Indian businesses to a great extent while Oman’s and Kuwait’s friendship with India has grown tremendously over the years. Qatar has recently been added to this list as a major source of energy supplies. India’s relations with Saudi Arabia have also progressed beyond traditional economic sectors to include areas like investments, security cooperation and energy. This can be considered as an increased political influence in the region and is further cemented by the fact that the US has shifted its interests to Iran.India has sought Saudi Arabia to invest in the government’s Make in India campaign.
Why the Gulf prefers India
On the other end, the Gulf States consider India as a nonthreatening power, which would balance Iran’s rise so long as the nation does not supply defense equipment to the latter.
The continuous decline of Pakistan’s economy can also be considered as another reason as to why the Gulf States are turning towards India. The decline in the number of skilled labors from Pakistan has forced these Gulf States to opt for manpower from India, an area in which the latter excels today.
A win-win situation
There is no need to worry about these new tie ups between the two regions interfering in each other’s individual economic strengths and policies. Instead, they offer economic complementary between the two regions, leading to a win win situation where both regions benefit from each other’s strengths and expertise in different sectors.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is showing keen interest of strengthening ties with the Gulf region. The Gulf States have also showed their interest in the same, leading to a possible win- win situation for both regions.