Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman decorates Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with King Abdulaziz Sash in Riyadh on Sunday. — SPA photo
– By: Syed Ziaur Rahman, Yahind.com
Saudi Arabia and India will strengthen their bilateral ties in the fields of security, investment and healthcare as part of a new thrust across the socio-economic spectrum.
The landmark accord was sealed after Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks in Riyadh on diversifying relations between the two major powers of the Arabian Gulf and South Asia.
The high level talks between the Heads of State of the two countries took place almost six years following the visit of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Riyadh on 27 February, 2010.
During his current visit to the Saudi capital Prime Minister Narendra Modi strengthened the strategic partnership between the two countries established in 2010 within the framework of the Riyadh Declaration that envisions a deeper engagement in political, economic, security and defence areas.
Earlier, King Salman stressed the importance of continued cooperation between Saudi Arabia and India in the economic sector as well as in the field of counter-terrorism.
While paying tribute to King Salman on his various initiatives in regional and international levels, Prime Minister Modi said, “New Delhi is keen to enhance relations with Riyadh in the fields of security, defense, and investment.” They also dwelt on the issue of money laundering.
The Monetary Investigation Unit (MIU) in the Ministry of Interior received 3,919 cases of money-laundering in the past two years, besides 419 notifications about financing terrorism.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was on a three-nation tour, earlier met Saudi women IT professionals at the first-of-its-kind all-women Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) training center in Riyadh. He invited them to visit India.
“For the world it is considered to be the main headline news that in Riyadh today I am meeting those IT professionals who, I can say, today represent the glory of Saudi Arabia,” Modi said while interacting with the TCS women professionals.
At the TCS Center, 1,000 women work in BPO Operations, 85 per cent of whom are Saudi nationals. TCS set up the first all-women Business Process Services (BPS) unit in Riyadh in 2013. The center brings a unique business model to Saudi Arabia and serves as a fertile training ground for building new capabilities, skills and careers for women in the country.
In his address at the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Saudi and Indian delegations discussed ways of diversifying their trade relations. Saudi Arabia is India’s largest crude oil supplier accounting for about one-fifth of the country’s total imports. The Kingdom is India’s fourth largest trading partner with bilateral trade reaching $ 40 billion in 2014-15.
Modi concluded his speech by saying “India and Saudi Arabia are old friends, but we are ready to take bold new steps into a golden future.” He said he was only the fourth Indian PM to visit Saudi Arabia. “But we have a centuries old relationship. India and Saudi Arabia should look at working together for building a dynamic global management sector for the cyber world, “Modi observed.
From Petroleum to renewable energy, infrastructure, defence and agriculture, there was an immense scope for expanding their cooperation, the Prime Minister said, while spelling out policy changes in India:
“My Govt will continue to work towards establishment of a predictable long-term taxation regime. Let us move beyond merely the export-import relationship. Joint investment, tech transfers are areas that we should explore,” he said, pointing out that Indian nurses, present in large numbers in the Gulf, “are a testament to our well trained manpower.”
On the healthcare front, the Indian Premier pointed out that India’s health sector, which is globally cost competitive, can emerge as a bright spot in health tourism. He also referred to India’s strength in terms of its skilled youth, Information Technology and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) while addressing businessmen at the Council of Saudi Chambers in Riyadh.
“Although it has been less than two years since I came to power, we have taken several policy initiatives to spur growth and progress,” he said, pointing out that “in a sector driven by technology changes, India’s low cost technology devices have gained global reputation.”
Indians constitute the largest expatriate community in Saudi Arabia whose contribution to the Indian economy in terms of remittances are well recognized. There are over 2.96 million Indians currently working in Saudi Arabia.