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THE NEWS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman inked five agreements in various fields after extensive talks.

KEY-HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AGREEMENT:

Both sides signed five agreements in areas of infrastructure, tourism, housing, investments, and exchange of audiovisual program as given below:

National Investment & Infrastructure Fund:

  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on investing in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund between both the countries.

Tourism:

  • Both the countries also signed an MoU in the field of tourism between the Ministry of Tourism and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.
  • In 2015, Indian nations traveling to Saudi Arabia accounted for 6.7 percent of the country’s total share.
  • Similarly, Saudi Arabia is one of the potential tourist generating market for India from the Middle East. So the MoU in this area could be instrumental in increasing tourist footfalls for both the countries.

Cooperation in Broadcasting:

  • Among other MoUs, the two sides also inked an agreement for cooperation in the field of the housing between Prasar Bharati and Saudi Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) for the exchange of audiovisual programme.

Politics, Security and Culture:

  • Saudi Arabia has identified India as one of the eight strategic partners with whom it intends to deepen partnership in areas of political engagement, security, trade and investment, and culture.
  • As part of this engagement, the two countries are finalizing the setting up of a Strategic Partnership Council at the Ministerial level.

Bilateral Investment:

  • Both sides also agreed upon the framework Cooperation Program between India’s Invest India and Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) on enhancing bilateral investment relations.
  • The SAGIA announcements cover a range of partnerships across strategic growth sectors, including technology, arts, and entertainment, energy, and water, healthcare, trade, and investment.
  • This reflects the strength and diversification of the Saudi economy, as well as the opportunities being unlocked for private sector businesses by widespread economic and social reforms as part of Vision 2030.

Besides the five government to-government pacts, the two countries also signed the framework agreement on the International Solar Alliance (ISA), which is an alliance of more than 121 members.

BENEFITS OF THE AGREEMENTS FOR INDIA:

  • The MoUs will boost the collaboration in strategic growth sectors between several government entities including the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the General Entertainment Authority, the National Industrial Clusters Development Program (NICDP) and SAGIA with leading Indian firms including TCS, Wipro, Glenmark, and ION Exchange.
  • The MoUs signed will boost the collaboration in strategic growth sectors between several government entities and these deals would also attract potential infrastructure investment and boost development in India.

DISMANTLING TERROR INFRASTRUCTURE:

The fight against terrorism constitutes this primary and fundamental mission to support and protect each other and on terrorism, both India and Saudi Arabia are in the same room which thinks the same.

Delhi Declaration:

  • It started in 2006 with the historic visit of King Abdullah to India, which laid solid ground for the India-Saudi relationship.
  • The “Delhi Declaration,” signed during his visit, stressed that terrorism was a scourge that “the governments would closely and actively cooperate” to fight against.

Riyadh Declaration:

  • The “Riyadh Declaration” signed in 2010 during then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Saudi Arabia emphasized cooperation on information exchange on terrorism.

Joint Statement on Terrorism:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has released a joint statement which condemned the recent terrorist attack on Indian security forces “in the strongest terms”.
  • Both sides agree on the need to create “conditions necessary for the resumption of dialogue” between India and Pakistan.
  • Saudi Arabia has offered to share intelligence with India in fighting terrorism and called for the dismantling of terrorist infrastructure.

IMPORTANCE OF SAUDI ARABIA FOR INDIA:

  • Expatriate Remittance: The 2.7 million strong Indian communities is the largest expatriate group in Saudi Arabia, who send remittances of over US $11 billion annually to India. Also, Saudi Arabia facilitates Hajj pilgrimage to over 1,75,000 Indians every year.
  • Energy Partner: Saudi Arabia is the key pillar of India’s energy security, being a source of 17 percent or more of crude oil and 32 percent of LPG requirements of India.
  • Other Areas: Other areas of interest for joint collaboration are food security, infrastructure, renewable energy, fertilizers and others.
  • Geostrategic Location: Saudi Arabia’s geostrategic position makes it an important neighbor for India, with trade and cultural links dating back thousands of years.
  • Economic Benefits: During the last financial year 2017-18, bilateral trade was the US $27.48 billion, making Saudi Arabia India’s 4th largest trading partner, recording about 10 percent growth compared to 2016-17.

INDIA-SAUDI RELATIONS GOING BEYOND COMMERCE & OIL:

  • Germinating seeds of relations: Though both India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations after the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1947, there links, however, go back ages.
  • The two-and-fro established by Arab traders sailing to India and Muslims from the subcontinent making pilgrimages to Makkah and Madinah were cemented with generous donations for the upkeep of the two holy mosques from Indian Muslim potentates, notably the ultra-wealthy Nizams of Hyderabad.
  • Recognizing each other’s independence: When King Abdul Aziz Al Saud united the tribes and city-states of Arabia to constitute the Third Saudi State, proclaiming the modern-day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, India was one of the first nations to recognize it in the early 1930s and with India’s independence from Britain in 1947, diplomatic relations between Riyadh and New Delhi were swiftly formalized.

CONCLUSION:

In recent years, there has been significant progress in bilateral cooperation in various important areas of mutual interest, including energy security, trade, and investment, infrastructure, defense, and security. The two countries have been working to develop two-way business agreements, bearing in mind the vast potential of the Indian market and the expertise it can offer as the Kingdom, with its immense financial resources, seeks to diversify its economy. Additionally, the roles of both countries in their respective geographical regions indicates that they share a number of other common interests most importance the fight against terrorism, educational exchanges, and investment.

Both countries should, therefore, be focusing on strengthening this bilateral relationship and taking it to new heights.

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