India-Iran Relationship (Foreign Policy)
Why in News:
Recent visit of India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to Iran.
Iran has been India’s Natural Ally among the Arab World Countries. Following factors are associated which makes India and Iran Natural Allies.
India and Iran as Natural Ally
1. Both have Significant Population of Shia Muslims – Iran is the leader of Shia muslims in the world and India has significant population of Shia Muslims. This works as a link between India and Iran.
2. India is Energy deficit country and Iran is Energy rich country – Iran has 2nd largest reserves of natural gas, it has one of the largest reserves of oil; these things make Iran most appropriate partner for India. India has energy deficit, so Iran can serve the Purpose of fulfilling the same.
3. Common challenge of Terrorism – India and Iran are facing challenges of extremism where Iran is continuously facing threats to Shia Mosques and Shia Muslims worldwide whereas India is continuously under threat of terrorist attacks.
4. Common Objective in Afghanistan – India and Iran have common objective in Afghanistan, where both the countries opposes Talibani forces.
1. Chabahar Port of Iran: India is developing Chabhar Port in Iran, which has manifold implications:
a) It would provide an alternative access to trade with Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.
b) It will become gateway to central Asian countries.
c) It would be countering Chinese presence at Gwadar Port in Pakistan. Chabahar port is located 72 km west of Gwadar Port.
d) It can lead to fulfilling India’s dream of becoming blue water navy by keeping Indian naval ships at Chabahar Port.
2. International North South Transport Corridor: India, Iran and Russia are the founding members of International North South Transport Corridor. This corridor will be a combination of routes involving Shipping, Railways and Roadways. E.g. India to Iran via Sea route, then it will be using Rail route to reach to central Asia and further it will be connected to Russia by Rail route or Roadways.
3. Iran-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline: India has been vigorously trying to develop this gas pipeline to start direct supply of Natural gas from Iran.
1. Iran’s support to India against Pakistan in Organization of Islamic Co-operation: Iran supported India’s stand in OIC on Kashmir issue, when Pakistan brought anti-India resolution.
2. Iran – P(5+1) Nuclear deal: Recent deal between Iran and P(5+1) countries resulted in relaxation on sanctions imposed on Iran, and it has opened way for India to improve its relations with Iran again, where India can increase its trade with Iran.
1. Trade between India and Iran: Iran has world’s second largest reserve of natural gases but it is lagging behind in its export. Now, sanctions have been relaxed on Iran, so Iran is looking to engage again with India to improve its trade relations.
2. Infrastructural Development by India in Iran: India is developing huge infrastructure in Iran to develop better relationship between these countries. India is heavily investing in Iran on oil and gas fields.
1. Student Exchange Program – Approximately 8000 Iranian students are studying in India and India is also providing scholarships to Iranian students. This has improved India’s relations with Iran.
2. Indian diaspora in Iran – Iran has huge population of Indian migrants as labour forces, and they serve as link for strengthened relationship between two countries.
Recent visit of Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to Iran signifies Iran’s importance in India’s Foreign Policy where strengthened relationship between India and Iran will be win-win situation for both the countries.