India-Oman Relations | UPSC Notes

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India-Oman Relations | UPSC Notes

• The two countries on opposite sides of the Arabian Sea are connected by geography, history, and culture. They also have warm and friendly relationships that can be traced back to their seafaring trade connections in the past.

• People from India and Oman have been in touch with each other for more than 5,000 years. Diplomatic ties were established between the two countries in 1955, and in 2008, they were upgraded to a Strategic partnership. Oman has been a key part of India’s policy towards West Asia. Oman is an important partner in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Arab League, and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).

• India’s key partner in the Gulf is the Sultanate of Oman. Both countries are close to each other in terms of geography, history, and society, and they get along well with each other.

In 1891, Oman was taken care of by the British. During the decolonization of the Middle East (decolonization page link possible here) in the 1950s, it stopped being a protectorate. Tipu Sultan even sent a formal mission to Oman back in the Middle Ages.

The Indo-Oman Treaty of Friendship, Navigation, and Commerce, which was signed in 1953, made it official for the two countries to work together. It began with India and an Arab country.

• In the 20th century, India and Oman both got their independence. In February 1955, an Indian consulate opened in Muscat. In 1960, it became a consulate general, and in 1971, it became an embassy. In 1973, India sent its first ambassador to Muscat. At the same time, Oman set up an embassy in New Delhi in 1972 and a consulate general in Mumbai in 1976. This was the start of a good relationship between the two countries on the official level.

• Because Sultan Qaboos went to school in the Indian city of Pune, he is seen as a major factor in bringing India and Oman closer together and strengthening their ties. • India and Oman have had bilateral ties for a long time. In 2008, these ties led to a strategic partnership between the two countries, which is still the basis for their cooperation today. This is also clear from the fact that the programme of partnership was just announced.

Where we work together

Relations on the political level:

• India and Oman have had many high-level visits between them. There have been a lot of visits from ministers.

• The Sultanate of Oman is an important partner for India in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Arab League, and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).

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Oman is the first country in the Persian Gulf to have official military ties with India. In 2006, the two countries did military drills together and then signed a defence agreement.

• The Defence Ministries of both countries meet once a year as part of the Joint Military Cooperation Committee to talk about how things are going between them.

• India and Oman hold training between their three services every two years.

Al Najah is an Army exercise, and Eastern Bridge is an Air Force drill.

Naval Exercise: Naseem Al Bahr

Since 2008, Oman has helped the Indian Navy fight piracy, and Indian Naval Ships are often received by Oman when they are sent overseas. Oman also asked India for help fencing the border it shared with Yemen because of the growing unrest there.

Economic and Business Relations:

• India is very interested in growing its economic and business ties with Oman. Institutions like the Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) and the Joint Business Council (JBC) keep an eye on India and Oman’s business cooperation.

India and Oman continue to do a lot of business and invest in each other. India is one of Oman’s top trading partners. In 2015-2016, trade between the two countries was worth $ 3.8 billion, but in 2016-2017, it was worth $ 4 billion. Nearly $4.5 billion has been spent in Oman by 2,900 Indian businesses and organisations.

• In 2018, India was the third largest source of Oman’s imports (after the UAE and China) and the third largest market for its non-oil exports (after the UAE and Saudi Arabia).

• India’s main exports to Oman are mineral fuels, mineral oils, and products made from them; boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances; iron or steel goods; electrical machinery and equipment; textiles and clothing; chemicals; tea, coffee, spices, etc.; and articles made of iron or steel.

• The main things India buys from Oman are fertilisers, mineral fuels, mineral oils, and their distillates, as well as coal substances and other things.

• Indian banking institutions like the State Bank of India and PSUs like Air India and the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) are present in Oman. Indian businesses have put money into industries in Oman like iron and steel, cement, fertilisers, textiles, etc.

• The India-Oman Joint Investment Fund (OIJIF), a joint venture between the State Bank of India and the State General Reserve Fund (SGRF) of Oman that invests in India, is now up and running.

• Access to Duqm Port: Oman has given India, including its navy, access to its Duqm port, which is about 550 km south of the city, Muscat. The Port of Duqm SEZ will be the biggest deep-sea port in the Indian Ocean. Both countries have signed an agreement to build Little India, an integrated tourism complex project in Duqm that will cost 748 million USD.

• Energy: India has been thinking about building the South Asia Gas Enterprise (SAGE), a natural gas route from Oman that would be 1100 km long and go under water.

Maritime Cooperation

Oman is at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, which is how India gets one-fifth of its oil. Oman also takes part in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).

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• In 2018, India and the country made a deal so that India could use the port of Duqm in Oman.

A deal between India and Oman means that the Indian Navy can use the facilities at Duqm port in Oman.

The port will be India’s gateway to the rest of West Asia and Eastern Africa, which is good news at a time when China has put key assets in the Indian Ocean Region.

The town of Duqm

The Port of Duqm is on the southeast coast of Oman, where it looks out over the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. It is in a good place because it is close to the Iranian port of Chabahar.

• India and Oman have strong cultural ties with each other. The large Indian expat community in Oman is very active and often puts on cultural shows and brings famous artists and singers from India.

• Yoga is very famous in Oman, especially with foreigners and young people who live there.

• In 2019, the Embassy held many events to mark the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth and the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji’s birth.

Indian Community in Oman:

• About 7.0 million Indians live in Oman, and about 5.67 million of them work or are professionals (June 2020). Indian families have lived in Oman for more than 150 to 200 years. The big, diverse, and well-respected Indian expatriate community in Oman is made up of people from all kinds of jobs. A lot of Indians work as doctors, engineers, and other jobs.

• There are a lot of schools in India that use the CBSE curriculum to teach about 45,000 Indian children.

What is the POC, or Programme of Cooperation?

The Agreement for Cooperation in Science and Technology between the two countries, which was signed in 1996, led to the signing of the POC for Cooperation in Science and Technology from 2022 to 2025. Under a Programme of Cooperation (POC) in the fields of Science and Technology, India and Oman will work together on things like making the world a better place to live and using science to make the most of resources.

• The Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology, which is part of the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Government of Oman’s Office of Science, Knowledge and Technology Transfer, which is part of the Foreign Ministry, will oversee, organise, and carry out the POC in their own countries.

• Both countries will work together on science projects under the POC. • The exchange of scientists, researchers, experts, and specialists for the implementation of chosen joint projects will be encouraged. These projects will be based on what is of interest to both India and Oman.

• The goal will be to make technology that can be used.

The main parts of POC

Based on the POC for the years 2022–2025, the following areas of interaction have been chosen:

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• Medicinal plants and processing

• Real-time air quality monitoring

• Development of an electronic platform for sharing knowledge

• Technical expertise for small and medium businesses in the field of sustainability (Eco-Innovate) Accelerator

• Research on plastic biofuels and biodiesel;

• Software development for graduate programmes, connecting industry and academia;

• Blockchain and FinTech solutions;

• Training programmes for big data, coding, and testing;

• STEM education;

• Other areas of S&T partnership can be added by mutual agreement.

How important Oman is for India

• Oman is India’s closest defence partner in the Gulf region and an important anchor for India’s defence and strategic interests.

• It is the only country in the Gulf region with which all three services of the Indian armed forces hold regular bilateral exercises and staff talks. This allows for close cooperation and trust at the professional level.

• It also gives Indian naval deployments in the Arabian Sea critical operational support for anti-piracy missions.

Duqm Port and Why It’s Important for Strategy

India has secured access to the key Port of Duqm in Oman for military use and logistical support. This is part of India’s maritime strategy to counter Chinese influence and activities in the region. The Port of Duqm is strategically located, close to the Chabahar port in Iran. Duqm fits into India’s plan to develop the Assumption Island in Seychelles and the Agalega Island in Mauritius.

India sent an attack submarine to this port in the western Arabian Sea in the last few years.

Chinese power in Oman is a barrier to ties.

• After the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, China began making friends with Arab countries.

• China and Oman have good relationships, and Oman was the first country to send oil to China.

Currently, 92.99% of Oman’s oil exports go to China, making China the country that buys the most oil from Oman. In 2016, Oman and China made a deal to build an Oman-China Industrial Park in Duqm.

• China sees Oman as a key country in the area and has been slowly strengthening its defence ties with it.

The next step

• India doesn’t have enough energy supplies to meet its energy needs now or in the future. Long-term energy partnerships are needed with countries like Oman because the need for energy is growing so quickly. • Oman’s Duqm Port is in the middle of international shipping lines that connect East and West Asia. India needs to talk to Oman and take steps to take advantage of the possibilities created by the Duqm Port industrial city. India should also work closely with Oman to strengthen its Indo-Pacific vision in the western and southern parts of the Indian Ocean.