Derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammad: Why is Gulf relevant for India? Here's why Indian govt reacted with urgency

The West Asian countries also denounced the insults of the Prophet Muhammad, and demanded an apology from the government

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, June 07, 2022, 04:28 PM IST
article-image
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman prior to a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. Photo by MONEY SHARMA / AFP |

Controversial remarks by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, now suspended BJP leaders have triggered fury among the Gulf nations leaving the Indian government to do the firefighting. At least 15 countries, including Kuwait, Qatar, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Maldives, Libya, Jordan, Turkey, and Indonesia have lodged official protests against India, describing the comment as 'insulting'.

The West Asian countries also denounced the insults of the Prophet Muhammad, and demanded an apology from the government.'

Notably, the action of BJP against its own leaders is evident enough to understand the significance of the Gulf region for India.

Why is the Gulf region important for India?

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

The two most important reasons for the relationship are oil and gas, and trade. Two additional reasons are the huge number of Indians who work in the Gulf countries, and the remittance they send back home.

How much trade does India do with this region?

According to India’s embassy in Riyadh, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait, “has emerged as a major trading partner of India” and has “vast potential as India’s investment partner for the future. The GCC’s substantial oil and gas reserves are of utmost importance for India’s energy needs”.

Saudi Arabia: At 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% from the previous year. Most of it was crude oil.

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

Qatar: The total trade was $15 billion, accounting for just 1.4% of India’s total trade, but the country is India’s most important supplier of natural gas. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, who is on a three-day visit to Qatar as the diplomatic row 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%.

UAE: The UAE was India’s third largest trading partner in 2021-2022, and second largest for both exports ($28 billion) and imports ($45 billion) when these are counted individually. In terms of total trade volume, the UAE ($72.9 billion) was 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 last financial year, up 68.4% since the previous year when international trade was impacted by the pandemic.

What has been Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outreach to these countries?

Since coming to power in 2014, PM Narendra Modi has kept a special focus on maintaining or enhancing India’s relations with most of the countries in the region. At a rally in December 2019, Modi had said, “Why is Modi given so much support by Muslim countries?… Today, India has the best-ever relations with the Gulf countries in its history.” He said Palestine, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan have excellent relations with India and Maldives and Bahrain have bestowed their highest civilian honour on him.

Modi has visited the region several times since 2014. He visited the UAE in 2015, 2018 and 2019, and Abu Dhabi’s crown prince 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 besides UAE, and became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Palestinian territory of Ramallah. He visited Bahrain in 2019.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Mumbai Metropolitan Region records highest sales of approx 25,785 units in Q2 2022

Mumbai Metropolitan Region records highest sales of approx 25,785 units in Q2 2022

Uddhav Thackeray has lost fighting spirit: Former CM Prithviraj Chavan

Uddhav Thackeray has lost fighting spirit: Former CM Prithviraj Chavan

Daily Horoscope for Friday, July 1, 2022, for all zodiac signs by astrologer Vinayak Vishwas...

Daily Horoscope for Friday, July 1, 2022, for all zodiac signs by astrologer Vinayak Vishwas...

Mumbai cruise drugs case: Aryan Khan seeks passport back as exonerated in drugs case

Mumbai cruise drugs case: Aryan Khan seeks passport back as exonerated in drugs case

Navi Mumbai: NMMC area sees 190 new cases of Covid-19 on June 29

Navi Mumbai: NMMC area sees 190 new cases of Covid-19 on June 29