India celebrates the 76th anniversary of its independence on 15 August 2023. On this joyous occasion, The Times Kuwait extends warm greetings and best wishes to all Indians and to the many well-wishers of India in Kuwait.
Over the past seventy-six years since it became a free, sovereign democratic nation, India has pursued a policy of friendly relations with countries around the world, based on parameters that ensured its security and prosperity, and guided by its traditional values and principles. Peaceful co-existence, respect for the territorial and integral sovereignty of others, nonaggression, non-interference in the internal affairs of others, and recognition of the equality of others, have been the foundational principles defining India’s engagements with countries around the world.
India and Kuwait have enjoyed a time-tested friendly relations, consolidated through commercial, cultural and social ties that span more than a century. As India marks its 76th anniversary of independence we look back with pride on the enduring robust relations, and look forward with hope for an even brighter future for the two countries and their people.
Close and friendly relations between India and Kuwait are rooted in history and have withstood the currents of time. Discovery of Indian artifacts such as pottery and jewelry from Failaka Island in Kuwait point to commercial and cultural interactions dating back several millennia. Over the centuries, historical trade links, arising from geographical proximity and cultural affinities, gave rise to social ties that have been cemented over time.
Relations between the two countries before the discovery of oil in Kuwait involved seafaring Kuwaiti merchants traveling to ports along the western coast of India. Initially, trade was in dates, pearls and pedigreed Arabian horses, for the stables of India’s maharajas and other wealthy families, in exchange for teak wood, food grains and most other essential commodities that Kuwait needed.
Following the discovery of oil in the late 1930s, Kuwait embarked on a path of development in all domains that resulted in the creation of a modern independent nation in 1961. India was among the first countries to recognize the independent State of Kuwait in 1962, and establish diplomatic relations. This gesture of solidarity was reciprocated when Kuwait became one of the first countries to lend moral support to India during the Chinese aggression of 1962.
Kuwait and its new-found wealth soon attracted Indian workers, technicians and merchants to the country; first in a trickle and then in a flow which has continued over the years. Today, the Indian diaspora in Kuwait, numbering close to a million people, form the largest expatriate community in the country. It is noteworthy that through the years, the leadership, government and people of both countries have remained committed to maintaining the age-old bilateral relations. Both sides have also worked to strengthen and expand their close diplomatic, trade and investment relations and cooperate and coordinate in international fora on global issues of concern.
Energy is a key area of cooperation between the two countries, as Kuwait is a major oil-producing country, and India is one of the world’s largest importers of crude oil. Consequently both sides have massive investment in bilateral oil and gas sectors. Bilateral trade between India and Kuwait remains strong as India is a major importer of Kuwaiti oil and its derivatives, as well as a significant exporter of goods and services to Kuwait.
In the third-quarter of fiscal year 2022-23, India was the largest export destination for Kuwait. Indian exports to Kuwait include food items, cereals, textiles, garments, electrical and engineering equipment,ceramics, machinery and mechanical appliances, cars, trucks, buses, tyres, chemicals, jewelry, handicrafts, metal products, iron and steel, and others. Bilateral trade in 2021-2022 stood around US$12.2 billion with India’s import from Kuwait reaching $11 billion and export reaching $1.2 billion.
Healthcare, education, construction and culture are some of the other areas of cooperation between the two nations. India accords substantial weight to Kuwait in its foreign policies as a large Indian expatriate community reside and work in Kuwait. For its part, Kuwait has also shown considerable importance to India, not only on account of its large oil imports and Indian expatriates in Kuwait, but also in recognition of the fact that India is poised to be a major global power in future.
Technological innovation combined with an improving regulatory and legal framework, and rapid infrastructure development, has put the nation’s economy on a path of around 6 percent annualized growth, which is among the fastest of the world’s large economies.
The major chunk of this economic growth will come from domestic consumption and investment. With a median age of 29 years, India has one of the most attractive demographic profiles among the world’s largest economies and can reap benefits from its productive capacity for years with the right policies in place.
Through the centuries of trade and cultural ties, and the six decades of diplomatic relations between the two countries, India-Kuwait relations have grown from strength to strength and enhanced the people-to-people relations. The presence of nearly a million Indians in Kuwait and the thousands of Kuwaitis who make regular trips to India for business, education, tourism and healthcare needs, attest to the ongoing strong ties between peoples of the two countries. Bilateral relations have continued to intensify in recent years with an increasing number of high-level visits on both sides.
In recent years, India and Kuwait have been explorig possibilities of joint-venture projects in the oil and gas sector in both countries, and Indian companies are active in bidding for projects in Kuwait’s mega infrastructure development programs.
As part of its efforts to improve and increase trade, commerce and tourism, the Indian Embassy in Kuwait regularly organizes trade exhibitions, seminars, and facilitates participation of Indian delegations in international trade exhibitions in Kuwait, as well as encourages business delegations from Kuwait to visit India.
India and Kuwait participate in various global forums and international gatherings where the two sides share consensus on issues of global dimension, and support just causes around the world. Both countries have called for non-interference in the internal matters of other countries, constructive engagement over aggression, non-discriminatory global trade practices, equitable global responsibility for the protection of the environment, disarmament, regional stability, international peace and sustainable growth among other issues.
Throughout its history since independence, India has maintained a proactive and pragmatic foreign policy that fundamentally considers the world community as part of a single large global family whose members must live together in peace and harmony, work and grow together, and have trust in each other for the benefit of all humanity. The Indian growth story and its success over the years owes a lot to this holistic world view. India’s successes are also a reflection of the nation’s collective human spirit — it is a triumph of hope, of devotion, of hard work, of dedication to not only the well-being of the people of India but also to those in other countries and to the larger cause of humanity.
Last year, India and Kuwait celebrated their momentous 60 years of diplomatic relations that have helped further cement the even-longer people-to-people relations between the two countries. In this regard, it is worth noting that the destinies of India and Kuwait have been interlinked through centuries of historical ties, close geographic proximity, strong cultural affinity and an open and broadminded viewpoint on both sides that embraces diversity and pluralism.
The overarching vision that Indian and Kuwait have for a future is also defined within the shared parameters of peace, stability and economic prosperity, democratic values and a global outlook. To ensure a stable and secure regional environment and continued economic prosperity for its people, India and Kuwait must consciously work towards nurturing and developing these strategic relations as well as the bonds that have epitomized their interactions for centuries.