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UPSC Sansad TV: India-Qatar Relations

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Introduction:

When we talk about international diplomacy, even those who know it well consider it complicated. It is said that diplomacy creates distance. But India has broken these preconceived notions. India is following the mantra of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. Which means the entire earth is our family. This thinking of India is working for it. Not only India but this mantra is working to show the path to everyone. Examples of this have come before everyone. Take the recent case of former Indian marines, usually in such cases there is a conflict between the countries. But India and Qatar have proved all these things wrong. Recently, the matter was resolved as per the prescribed procedure. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a visit to Qatar for the second time.

India and Qatar- friendly ties:

  • Since diplomatic relations between India and Qatar were established in 1973, the two countries have maintained friendly relations.
  • However, since the visit of India’s PM (Manmohan Singh) in 2008, the first by an Indian PM, the relationship has grown.
  • When the Qatari Emir (Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani) visited in 2015, five MoUs entailing cooperation in several fields were signed.
  • Additionally, an agreement on prisoner repatriation was made, permitting citizens of India or Qatar who have been convicted and sentenced for a crime to be extradited back to their home country to serve the remainder of their prison sentence.
  • The two sides agreed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2023.

Defence Relations:

  • Defence cooperation is an important pillar of our bilateral agenda. India offers training slots in its defence institutions to a number of partner countries, including Qatar.
  • India regularly participates in the biennial Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX) in Qatar. Indian Naval and Coast Guard ships regularly visit Qatar as part of our bilateral cooperation and interaction.
  • India-Qatar Defence Cooperation Agreement, signed during the PM’s visit to Qatar in November 2008, and further extended for a period of five years in November 2018.
  • The agreement is implemented through the Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC), which held its fifth meeting in Doha on 27-28 November 2019.

Commercial & Investment Relations:

  • India’s bilateral trade with Qatar in 2022-23 was US$ 18.77 billion. India’s exportto Qatar during 2022-23 was US$ 1.96 billion and India’s import from Qatar was US$ 16.8 billion.
  • Qatar’s key exports to India include LNG, LPG, chemicals and petrochemicals, plastics, and aluminium articles, while India’s key exports to Qatar include cereals, copper articles, iron and steel articles, vegetables, fruits, spices, and processed food products, electrical and other machinery, plastic products, construction material, textiles & garments, chemicals, precious stones and rubber.
  • India is among the top three largest export destinations for Qatar (China and Japan being the other two) and is also among the top three sources of Qatar’s imports, along with China and US.

Cultural Relations:

  • Cultural ties between India and Qatar are deep-rooted and actively nurtured by both sides.
  • There are regular cultural exchanges between the two sides, under the provisions of the Agreement on Cultural Cooperation signed between the two sides in 2012.
  • Qataris admire India’s cultural diversity.
  • The year 2019 was celebrated as India-Qatar Year of Culture, as envisaged in the Joint Statement issued during the visit of PM Modi to Qatar

Indian Community:

  • There are over 835,000 Indian nationals residing in Qatar as on December 2023.
  • They comprise the largest expatriate community in Qatar and are engaged in a wide spectrum of professions including medicine; engineering; education, finance; banking; business;and media apart from a large number of blue-collared workers.
  • They are highly regarded for their honesty, hard work, qualifications and contribution to the development and progress of Qatar.
  • Indian community comprises around 27% of total population of Qatar. There are approximately 45,000 Indian students studying in 19 Indian schools, with 27 branches, (9 of them providing senior secondary education and 12 upto secondary education), and a few hundred in international schools in Qatar.

Way Forward:

  • The state of Qatar enjoys a substantive and strong relation with the Republic of India. These relations have evolved and grown over the time stronger and steadier marked by high level exchanges between the two countries.
  • These visits played a pivotal role in boosting and strengthening the bilateral relations between both the countries which are palpably reflected in their trade and economic relations.
  • Qatarwants to make investment in India in the domain of the infrastructure which includes roads, highways, economic corridors, airports, ports, tourism and hotels apart from the projects related to gas and fertilizers.
  • India-Qatar cooperation in diverse sectors has been steadily growing in an excellent framework provided by historically close ties and regular and substantive engagement, including at the highest levels of the two Governments.