In News: Indian delegation is in Saudi Arabia, and a talk focuses on improving the relationship between India and Saudi.
- Union Minister of External Affairs co-chaired first ministerial meeting of the Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation (PSSC) with Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
- Minister also met with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General and the two leaders signed an MoU on the mechanism of consultations between India and the six-nation regional bloc.
- On account of remarks on Prophet Mohammad by Nupur Sharma Saudi Arabia issued a strong statement condemning the same.
- Covid-19 pandemic: India provided 4.5 million COVISHIELD vaccines to the Kingdom, whereas, during the second wave, the latter provided India with COVID-relief material, particularly liquid oxygen. Large-scale repatriation exercise of the community due to the pandemic, which has led to more than 8,00,000 Indians being repatriated through Vande Bharat Mission
- Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation (PSSC): established under the framework of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council.
- India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council – was formed to coordinate on strategically important issues. The council will be headed by the Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed and will meet every two years.
- It has two sub-committees –
- Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation; and
- Committee on Economy and Investments.
India – Saudi Arabia Relationship
- India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations reflecting the centuries old economic and socio-cultural ties.
- The year 2021-22 commemorates 75 years of India’s independence as ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’. This celebration also coincides with 75 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Saudi Arabia.
- The establishment of diplomatic relations in 1947 was followed by high-level visits from both sides.
- Saudi Arabia is India’s 4th largest trading partner and India is the 4th largest market for Saudi exports.
- Bilateral trade was $29.28 billion in FY22. During this time, India’s imports from Saudi Arabia were valued at $22.65 billion and exports to Saudi were $6.63 billion.
- More than 18% of India’s crude oil imports are sourced from Saudi Arabia.
- India also imports around 32% of LPG requirements from Saudi Arabia
- There are around 745 Indian companies registered as joint ventures/100% owned entities with investments worth approximately US$2 billion in the Kingdom (October, 2021).
- These companies operate in diverse sectors such as management and consultancy services, construction projects, telecommunications, information technology, financial services and software development, pharmaceuticals, etc.
- Saudi Investments in India, as of March 2021, amounted to US$3.13 billion.
- Major Saudi investment groups include ARAMCO, SABIC, ZAMIL, E-holidays, and Al Batterjee Group.
- Other proposed major investments include the US$44 billion ‘West Coast Refinery & Petrochemicals Project’ in Maharashtra, which is being jointly built by Saudi and India corporations.
- The 2 million strong Indian community is the largest expatriate community in the country and is ‘most preferred’ due to their expertise, discipline, law abiding spirit and peace-loving nature.
- Saudi Arabia continues to be one of the most preferred destinations for Indians seeking job abroad. Hence, large numbers of remittances are received from the country equalling to $34.5 billion in 2020.
- In 2019, the two sides announced that India’s e-Migrate system would be integrated with the Kingdom’s e-Tawtheeq system to streamline the migration process for workers.
- India participated as the ‘Guest of Honour’ at the 32nd edition of the prestigious Saudi National Festival of Heritage and Culture – Janadriyah from February 07 – 28, 2018.
- The annual Hajj pilgrimage is another important component of Indo-Saudi bilateral relations.
- Yoga has also become a very popular activity in Saudi Arabia, particularly after it was recognized as a ‘sports activity’ in November 2017
- On IDY 2021, an MoU on Yoga Cooperation was signed between the Saudi Ministry of Sports and India’s Ministry of AYUSH, which paved the way for the establishment of formal Yoga standards and courses in the Kingdom, marking the first time such standards were being implemented by any country in the Gulf region.
- The 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi was marked by a series of events that culminated on October 02, 2019 with the unveiling of the Gandhi bust at the Embassy.
- Need for a balance policy in terms of strategic, defence and economic partnership
- Diversification of trade relations beyond crude oil and LPG
- Collaboration on handling terrorism through sharing of military insights and increasing joint military exercises.
Gulf Cooperation Council
- It is a political, economic, social, and regional organisation according to its charter.
- GCC was established by an agreement concluded in 1981 among Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE in view of their special relations, geographic proximity, similar political systems based on Islamic beliefs, joint destiny and common objectives.
- The structure of the GCC consists of the Supreme Council (the highest authority), the Ministerial Council and the Secretariat General.
- The Secretariat is located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Source: Indian Express