Why the Gulf matters for Indian

On Sunday, the ruling BJP its national spokesman Nupur Sharma. suspended and expelled its Delhi spokesman Naveen Kumar Jindal over comments they made about Islam and the Prophet last week. The move came after three countries in the Gulf region called Indian ambassadors to their country to register their protest and demanded a public apology from India.

The BJP’s action against its own leaders underlines the importance of the Gulf region to India. With the exception of the Jewish state of Israel, the 10 other countries of the Gulf region – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Jordan and Yemen – together account for a fifth of the Muslim population in the world , and are among the strongest voices of the Muslim world.

Why is the region important to India?

India has enjoyed good relations with countries like Iran for centuries, while the smaller gas-rich country of Qatar is one of India’s closest allies in the region. India has good relations with most of the Gulf countries.

The two main reasons for the relationship are oil and gas and trade. Two additional reasons are the sheer number of Indians who work in the Gulf States, and the remittances they send home.

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How much trade does India do with countries in this region?

According to the Indian Embassy in Riyadh, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait, “has emerged as an important trading partner of India” and has “huge potential as a India’s Investment Partner for the Future The GCC’s substantial oil and gas reserves are paramount to India’s energy needs.”

UAE: The UAE was India’s third largest trading partner in 2021-2022 and the second largest for both exports ($28 billion) and imports ($45 billion) when counted separately. In total trade volume, the UAE ($72.9 billion) lagged behind the United States ($1.19 trillion) and China ($1.15 trillion). The UAE accounted for 6.6% of India’s total exports and 7.3% of imports in the past fiscal year, up from 68.4% since the previous year when international trade was hit by the pandemic.

Saudi Arabia: With a total volume of $42.9 billion in 2021-22, Saudi Arabia was India’s fourth largest trading partner. While exports were low at $8.76 billion (2.07% of India’s total exports), imports from Saudi Arabia were the fourth largest at $34.1 billion (7%), up 50% compared to the previous year. Most of it was crude oil.

Iraq: It was India’s fifth largest trading partner in 2021-22 with $34.3 billion.

Qatar: Total trade was $15 billion, accounting for only 1.4% of India’s total trade, but the country is India’s main supplier of natural gas. Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, who is on a three-day visit to Qatar as the diplomatic spat erupted over the weekend, said on Sunday that Qatar accounts for 41% of India’s total natural gas imports. The UAE accounts for another 11%.

How much oil does India import?

More than 84% of India’s petroleum demand, including crude oil and petroleum products, was imported, according to an analysis by the Observer Research Foundation in April. The 239 million tons of petroleum imports accounted for $77 billion and last year accounted for nearly a fifth of the country’s total imports.

India bought crude oil from 42 countries in 2021-22, up from 27 countries in 2006-07, the ORF noted. However, the “top 20 sources of India’s oil imports have consistently accounted for more than 95% of India’s oil imports and the top 10 countries have accounted for more than 80% over the past 15 years,” it said. “The Persian Gulf countries’ share of crude oil imports into India has remained around 60% over the past 15 years.”

In 2021-2022, Iraq was the largest exporter of oil to India, whose share has increased from 9% in 2009-2010 to 22%. Saudi Arabia has accounted for 17-18% of India’s oil imports for over a decade. Kuwait and the UAE remain major oil exporters to India. Iran was the second largest oil exporter to India in 2009-2010, but due to US sanctions, its share fell to less than 1% in 2020-21.

How many Indians work in the Gulf and how much money do they send?

According to data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, more than 13.46 million Indian citizens work abroad. If persons of Indian descent (those who have taken citizenship of other countries and their descendants) are added, the number rises to more than 32 million.

If we count only the 13.4 million non-resident Indians (NRIs), the Gulf has the largest numbers. The UAE (3.42 million), Saudi Arabia (2.6 million) and Kuwait (1.03 million) together account for more than half of all NRAs.

In terms of remittances from abroad, India was the largest recipient in 2020 with $83.15 billion, according to World Bank data. This was nearly double the remittances to the second-highest recipient, Mexico, at $42.9 billion.

The largest contributor is the vast Indian diaspora in the Gulf. In a November 2018 bulletin, the latest on the subject, the Reserve Bank of India said the GCC countries accounted for more than 50% of the total $69 billion remittances India received in 2016-17. The UAE accounted for 26.9%, Saudi Arabia for 11.6%, Qatar for 6.4%, Kuwait for 5.5% and Oman for 3%. Outside the GCC, remittances from the US accounted for 22.9%, second only to the UAE.

What was the Prime Minister’s reach to these countries?

Since taking power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has paid special attention to maintaining or strengthening India’s relations with most countries in the region. At a meeting in December 2019, Modi had said, “Why does Modi get so much support from Muslim countries? … Today, India has the best relations ever with the Gulf countries in its history.” He said Palestine, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan have excellent relations with India and the Maldives and that Bahrain has bestowed upon him the highest civilian honours.

Modi has visited the region several times since 2014. He visited the UAE in 2015, 2018 and 2019, and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi came to India in 2017 and 2018. Modi visited Qatar and Iran in 2016 and Saudi Arabia in 2016 and 2019. In 2018, he went to Jordan, Palestine and Oman in addition to the UAE, becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Palestinian territory of Ramallah. He visited Bahrain in 2019.

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During these eight years, there have been similar reciprocal visits from leaders from these countries. Even during the pandemic, leaders of the Indian and Gulf regions were in regular contact, with Modi speaking in March 2020 with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Emir of Qatar, and the Prime Minister of Kuwait and the King of Bahrain. in April.

During his travels, Modi has also visited some of the most popular mosques in those countries, including the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi in 2015 and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat in 2018.

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