India-Saudi Arabia growing relations

India and Saudi Arabia have affable and amicable relationships, reflecting their age-old economic and socio-cultural bond. Trade and social connections between India and Arabia date back to the Third Century BC. The trade relations between southern India and Arabia thrived by 1000 AD and became the mainstay of the Arabian economy. India was one of the first countries to set up ties with the Third Saudi State.

Formal diplomatic relations between modern-day India and Saudi Arabia were set up after India acquired freedom in 1947. Relations between the two nations have been reinforced extensively due to associations in territorial affairs and trade. The setting up of diplomatic relations in 1947 was trailed by top-level visits from the two sides. Ruler Saud visited India in 1955, and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited the Kingdom in 1956. The visit of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to Saudi Arabia in 1982 further solidified the bilateral relations.

The momentous visit of King Abdullah to India in 2006 was a turning point that led to the signing of the ‘Delhi Declaration’, conveying a new impetus to the bilateral relationship. The requited visit by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Saudi Arabia in 2010 and the ‘Riyadh Declaration’ signed during the visit elevated the bilateral commitment to a ‘Strategic Partnership’. The visit of the then Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (presently King) to India in 2014 further extended the relations between the two nations, especially in the sector of defence assistance.

The extremely fruitful visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in April 2016, encapsulated the essence of collaboration in the political, financial, security, and defence domains. During the visit, Prime Minister Modi conferred with the highest civilian honour by the Saudi King signifies the importance the Kingdom ascribes to its relations with India. The ‘State Visit’ honour bestowed to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to India in February 2019 took forward this impetus further. During the visit, declarations of Saudi investment in India aiming an estimation of US $ 100 billion and expansion in Hajj quota to 2, 00,000 were made.

Further on the greeting of His Majesty King Salman, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a formal visit to Riyadh from October 28-29, 2019, during which the Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) Agreement was signed, distinguishing “India as one of the Kingdom’s Strategic Partner Countries under ‘Vision 2030’ with a high-level partnership council at the leadership level.” Twelve MoUs and Agreements were sanctioned during the visit in the fields of “energy, security, combating trafficking of narcotic drugs, defence production, civil aviation, medical products, strategic petroleum reserves, small and medium scale industries, the launch of Rupay card, cooperating in the training of diplomats, cooperation between stock exchanges, etc.” PM likewise gave “a keynote address at the Third Future Investment Initiative Summit during the visit.”

Furthermore, the milestone visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to KSA in 2016 and 2019 and the state visit of Crown Prince HRH Mohammed bin Salman to India in February 2019 denoted another and solid episode in the bilateral relations that resulted in forming the Strategic Partnership Council. The council is to be led by the Prime Minister on the Indian side and the Crown Prince on the Saudi side.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a phone conversation with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman. Both the leaders assessed the bilateral strategic operation Partnership Council 2019 and asserted gratification regarding consistent growth in India-Saudi’s association. Indian Prime Minister conveyed his interest further to extend trade and investment between the two nations, and showcased the prospects that the Indian economy offers to Saudi financial investors.

They also concurred that the initiative taken at the level of the G20 had helped elevate an organized response to the COVID-19.

The telephonic discussion comes after their previous call in September a year ago when the two leaders conversed about the pandemic’s difficulties.
Nevertheless, owing to the pandemic, Modi and Crown Prince Salman pledged continuous support in the line of their unique friendship and people-to-people’s connection among India and Saudi Arabia and dedicated to fortifying cooperation in all sectors.