Nobel laureate Rabindranat Tagore described India as “a country where the mind is not afraid and the head is high, the knowledge is free.” Millions of Indians around the world sing the national anthem or “Rashra Gaan” in Tagore to commemorate our independence, and the national anthem itself is a true recognition of India’s pluralism. The national anthems of Pun Najab, Sindh, Gujarat, Marata, Dravida, Utkala and Banga highlight the complexity of the country’s geographical, ethnic and cultural heritage in India. Body.
As we begin our 75th Independence Day celebrations this year, we will also commemorate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between India and Saudi Arabia. Our relationship is built on the long history of trade between India and its people for trade and pilgrimage. The people of Saudi Arabia are always fascinated by Indian spices, pearls, precious stones, silk, sand, oak, and perfumes.
Many Indian rulers and nobles built more than a hundred residences in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. These were known as the “quarterbacks.” Even now, there are some such as Bohra, Bupole, Arcot and Hyderabad.
Other important links between India and Mecca can be traced back to the early 15th century, when Madrassa and colleges were built by Indian rulers. Notable among them are the Madrasa of Bangalore, the Madrasa of Gulbargia and the Madras of the Sultanate of Cambodia. These were followed by the famous Madras al-Saulatia, still operating in Mecca in the early 19th century.
There is always respect and understanding between the leaders of our two countries. In the summer of 1955, King Saud’s 17-day visit to India made a good impression on the region, and in September 1956, Pandit Jahalallal Neru’s visit to India celebrated the principles of peace, development, and freedom of the Bandung Conference. After 26 years of separation, in April 1982, Indra Gandhi’s visit brought great joy not only to the government but also to the region.
A turning point in bilateral relations was King Abdullah’s historic visit to India in January 2006. He was the guest of honor at the Indian Republic Day celebrations, where the two countries decided to develop a strategic partnership. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s return to Riyadh in February 2010 marked a new era of strategic partnership between the two countries. During these visits, Delhi and Riyadh statements will continue to be important and important bilateral documents.
On the basis of the strong, multifaceted and strategic partnership between the two countries, however, four important bilateral visits were made: King Salman’s visit, followed by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. February 2014 Visit to Delhi, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in February 2019 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi two visits in April 2016 and October 2019 to Riyadh.
The formation of the Strategic Partnership Council (SCCC) between the two countries in October 2019 is a major step forward for the two countries and will take bilateral relations to new heights. The two ministerial committees under the SPC have started participating at the senior officers’ level and at the level of joint working groups. They focus on security and defense cooperation, energy, cultural cooperation, agriculture and food security, industry and infrastructure, technology and IT, as well as health and education.
Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trading partner after China, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. India sees Saudi Arabia as a reliable and long-term energy partner to ensure its energy security. India’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was about 61.1 percent for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The United Kingdom is India’s second-largest destination after Iraq. India accounts for 18.20 per cent of total imports. Saudi Arabia is India’s third-largest liquefied natural gas (LPG) after Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and is the largest exporter of LGG for 2020-21.
The two countries have moved to a strategic partnership in the field of hydrocarbons with Saudi Arameco Investments in the field of strategic oil and gas projects in the field of hydrocarbons.
The two countries have strong defense cooperation in the fields of maritime security, military training and defense industries. In December 2020, the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, General M. Naravane, made his first visit to the government with the aim of further strengthening bilateral defense relations in areas such as military intelligence, cyber security and counter-terrorism.
The first joint naval exercises, al-Mohad al-Hindi 2021, were launched at the port of Mobile earlier this month to enhance the interaction between the two navies and to facilitate better operations for maritime security. The next step will be to conduct ground operations in the coming months with the theme of counter-terrorism.
The Indian Space Agency (ISRO) and the Saudi Space Commission (SCO) have discussed ways to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Cooperation in the field of nuclear energy is also of interest to both countries.
Health care is another important area in bilateral cooperation under the Strategic Partnership Council. India, as part of our “immunization milestone”, has provided 4.5 million covacillin vaccines to the government. India has also provided technical knowledge and technology transfer to Covaxin, India’s first native COVID-19 vaccine. Cooperation in the field of immunization development, joint production of pharmaceutical products and the establishment of the most unique hospitals in the country continue to be areas of interest in both countries.
I would like to thank Saudi Arabia for facilitating the supply of liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders and tanks during the second wave of the COVID-19 epidemic in India.
Cooperation in the field of partner and alternative medicine is another promising field of cooperation between our country. The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two countries on the sidelines of the 7th International Yoga Day is a testament to the growing popularity of yoga in the kingdom. The MoU paves the way for the establishment of formal yoga standards and courses within the Kingdom.
In addition to entertainment, cinema and tourism, we strive to further engage the people of the two countries through meaningful cooperation in sports, especially cricket and football.
I would like to thank the Indian community for their sincerity, diligence and determination in our bilateral relations. The cooperation of community volunteers throughout Saudi Arabia during the Vandy Barat mission, which brought back some 600,000 Indians, was noteworthy.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for improving their bilateral relations on a regular basis and for ensuring the safety of all the inhabitants of the kingdom. , During these challenging times after the COVID-19 outbreak.
• Dr. Awsaf Saeed is the Ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia.
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