For decades, India viewed the Gulf countries primarily through the lens of economics, as a source of oil and a destination for labour exports. However, in recent years, this economic prism has evolved into a strategic one. The elevation of India’s strategic goals in relation to the Gulf nations reflects structural developments in the Gulf as well as the region’s rising importance in the Indian Ocean.
How it has transformed
- De-hyphenation of India-Pakistan relations: Today, Gulf nations want to create strong and independent political connections with India without being influenced by India-Pakistan relations.
- Moving Towards Modernisation: Gulf nations are currently attempting to decrease the strong hand of religion in social life, improve women’s rights, broaden religious liberties, promote tolerance, and build a national identity that is not only based on religion. In this aspect, the UAE has been a pioneer. It has implemented changes like as decriminalising alcohol usage, allowing unmarried couples to cohabitate, criminalising honour crimes against women, and instituting long-term visas.
- The Gulf states are no longer viewed as a collection of petro-states; instead, they have constructed a robust financial capital structure based on the vast accumulation of oil income over the previous few decades.
- This gave rise to what is now known as “Khaleeji,” or Gulf capitalism. Khaleeji Capitalism is a term used by Adam Hanieh, a scholar at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, to describe the emergence of huge conglomerates and sovereign wealth funds in the Gulf. Because of this capitalist model, Gulf nations dominate various regional industries, ranging from banking and finance to infrastructure and logistics, agribusiness and real estate, retail, and telecommunications.
What are the new opportunities
- There is a need to focus on new and long-term opportunities for economic collaboration with Gulf countries that are looking beyond oil. The Gulf nations have begun a significant economic diversification effort, investing in a wide range of new initiatives such as renewable energy, higher education, technical innovation, smart cities, and space trade. India must also fully use the potential of Gulf wealth for its own economic growth. The large gap between the investments available in the Gulf and India’s ability to absorb them must be bridged. The UAE promised to investing $75 billion in India in 2015. However, we are still a long way from being able to facilitate such large-scale investments.
- Shielding India’s Economic Interest: First and foremost, Indian foreign policy should protect India’s economic interests in the aftermath of the epidemic.
- Taking Advantage of Gulf-Israel Normalization: Earlier this year, the UAE and Bahrain normalised relations with Israel. This is a chance for India to strengthen its commercial and technical ties with Israel.
- Due to the economic volatility induced by the epidemic, Gulf countries are contemplating reducing their reliance on migrant labour. India should guarantee that this has no impact on Indian expatriates.
- With the emergence of Khaleeji capitalism, the Gulf nations now provide economic and security support to friendly governments, create ports and infrastructure, acquire military bases, and mediate peace between warring groups and states. The UAE now heads the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and has shown a desire to collaborate with India on cooperative infrastructure projects. India must broaden and deepen its regional connectivity and security activities in the Indian Ocean.
The Middle East has grown more multipolar, with power being distributed among many regional and extra-regional entities. Within this context, the emergence of contemporary values and Khaleeji Capitalism in Gulf nations makes the argument for India to abandon old conceptions of the Gulf and exploit new strategic opportunities in the area.
How to structure:
- Give an intro about India’s relationship with th Gulf countries
- Now, briefly mention about India- Gulf economic relations
- Mention the areas where India can be a strategic partner to the Gulf, the need and significance. Use maps to point out the area and the important straits
- Mention any latest events/programmes and suggest way forward