How the instability created in the Gulf region poses security concerns for India? Do you think India has adopted a "balance approach"in the ongoing Gulf crisis? Give arguments to support your view point.

Published: May 3, 2018

The Persian Gulf region was shaken by a massive political earthquake on June 5, 2017 when four Arab countries Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt announced that they were severing all political, economic and diplomatic links with Qatar, a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The four countries were soon joined by Libya, Yemen and even Maldives. This has triggered a new episode of instability in the region.
Implications on India

  • Diaspora: There are around seven million people of Indian origin working in the Middle East. Security and stability in the region is of paramount importance for India.
  • Remittances: Indian diaspora in the region remits around USD 40 billion a year. These funds are immensely valuable as they help India manage its current account deficit. 
  • Energy security: Energy is another critical area of engagement. A fifth of India’s oil, and about 65 per cent of gas imports, comes from countries of the Middle East including Iran, Qatar, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and others.
  • Mobility: The restrictions on air space access will adversely affect the Indians in Qatar.

Any confrontation or uncertainty in Qatar or the wider Gulf region can have serious adverse implications for India. Beyond a point, India cannot stay aloof. Given the range, expanse and depth of India’s interests and its rapidly expanding political, economic and strategic profile, sooner or later India will have to get more vigorously engaged in dealing with developments in this crucial region. 
India’s approach to the crisis

  • India termed the crisis an internal affair of GCC which should be resolved through a process of constructive dialogue and peaceful negotiations. 
  • India launched “Indian-Qatar Express Service” for the shipment of food products and other essentials from India.
  • The interests of Indian migrants in Qatar were seemingly addressed without antagonising the other powers in the region. 

India has a unique advantage in West Asia of having bonhomie relations with all the major relations in the region. India’s response to Qatar crisis was a balanced one. By calling it an internal affair of GCC, India called for resolving the matter among the members through the negotiations rather through external interventions.
India’s steps were helpful in protecting the interests of Indians in Qatar without antagonising the other powers in the region. Thus it was a balanced approach which was based on realism to protect the interests of India and Indians.

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