India, which is fast emerging as a dominant force in the rapidly evolving global geopolitical scene, is focused on bolstering relations with the Middle East.
The reasoning behind this push is simple; firstly, the Arab world and the Middle East’s strategic and economic importance cannot be ignored, and secondly, India, which is increasingly being recognized as a global leader, cannot be exclusionary in its outlook and approach.
Egypt also called the “gateway to Africa,” is a dual-layered opportunity and prospect for India. And India, being one of the biggest economies and consumers in the world, can cater to the market needs of Egypt.
Both countries have acknowledged that their symbiotic relationship could be of great significance to their people. They have agreed to elevate the terms of their engagement to a ‘strategic partnership’.
“We have decided to elevate our bilateral relations with Egypt to a strategic partnership. We have decided that under India-Egypt Strategic Partnership we will develop a long-term framework for greater cooperation in the fields of politics, security, economics, and science,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El Sisi recently visited New Delhi.
The bilateral trade between India and Egypt has experienced a boom in recent years, so much so that even the pandemic could not hamper its expansion. As per the Indian embassy in Cairo, the trade between the two countries amounted to USD 7.26 billion in 2021-22. This was 75 per cent more than the previous year.
India exported goods and merchandise worth USD 3.74 billion in this period, registering a 65 per cent increase compared with Financial Year 2020-2021.
According to the data of the Ministry of External Affairs (India), some 50 Indian companies, including the renowned Mahindra, Godrej, and Dabur India, have invested in Egypt, with combined receipts of USD 3.15 billion.
As per the Indian embassy in Cairo, 61,500 metric tonnes of wheat were cleared for Egypt by India in May of last year.
While trade has been a dominant aspect of Indian foreign policy, what sets Egypt apart from other Arab countries where religious prejudices have often trumped rationale, is its moderate and measured voice.
New Delhi and Cairo have also committed to jointly combating the menace of terrorism.
“We spoke about fighting terrorism and extremist mindsets and discussed ideal ways to deal with it. We share a common viewpoint that we can together end violence because violence, terrorism, and extremism are a huge threat,” said El SiSi when he visited India.
Several experts have opined that a collective Arab world position on terrorism and its perpetrators could strengthen India’s case against the terror-export hub of Pakistan.
Diplomacy and trade will play a key role in the course ahead.
Egypt could be of great significance to India, for both its political and strategic needs, and also to deepen and strengthen its presence in Africa.
For now, Egypt and India have set out on a voyage that will resurrect the ancient past when India and Egypt were the cradles of technically advanced civilisations and the envy of the world. (ANI)