- GS-2: India and its neighbourhood- relations; Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements affecting India’s interests.
Context: The pandemic has brought to fore new possibilities for cooperation between India and the GCC countries more specifically in Health and Education Sector.
Gulf Cooperation Council
- It is political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman.
- The GCC was established in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in May 1981.
- The purpose of the GCC is to achieve unity among its members based on their common objectives and their similar political and cultural identities, which are rooted in Arab and Islamic cultures.
Areas where India and GCC can cooperate for better future are:
- There is immense scope for investments in the healthcare and the pharmaceutical industries.
- Attracting investments from GCC countries fits well into Government of India’s initiative to develop the industrial and manufacturing base in India under the Atmanirbhar Bharat program
- India is already a popular regional destination for medical tourism.
- Digital healthcare services are an area that are likely to witness immense growth in the near future.
- The demand for hygiene and personal protective equipment (PPE) products has already skyrocketed. India has emerged as a major manufacturing hub for these products, apart from its strengths as a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub.
- There are also possibilities to attract investments in the Ayurveda healthcare ventures which has a growing market in the Gulf region.
- Higher education is an area that remains under-exploited, despite the potential for enhanced cooperation.
- The vast network of professional colleges and universities in India can be an attractive destination for GCC students.
- Given that the Indian ‘Institutions of Eminence’ have now been given the green signal to set up branches outside India, IITs and IIMs should look for possibilities for opening branches in the GCC countries which will attract both the local and expatriate population.
- The field of digital education services can also be an area to attract GCC investments and strengthen bilateral cooperation
- India and the GCC countries have witnessed an extraordinary growth in bilateral defense relations.
- Liberal FDI Policies can be a major area to attract investments, especially as the GCC countries are among the world’s top defense importers.
- There is also a possibility of a multilateral cooperation among India, the UAE and Israel, given that India already has strong bilateral cooperation with both these countries in the defense and security fields.
- Niche areas such as space exploration, artificial intelligence, cyber security, bioinformatics, renewable energy etc. can be the new areas for cooperation between India and GCC countries.
- The UAE is fast emerging as a space exploration leader in the Arab world.
- The GCC countries, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have in recent years invested significantly in the renewable energy sector.
- India, being an energy-deficient country with a walloping hunger for energy, should explore possibilities for enhancing cooperation in renewable energy sector.
Connecting the dots:
- On Gulf reconciliation summit: Click here