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Report on Visit of the Delegation from the National Defence College, UAE

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  • December 11, 2023

    A delegation from the National Defence College, UAE, led by Brig. Gen. Staff Pilot Khalifa Butti Thani Tarish Al Shamsi visited the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) on 11 December 2023. Director General, Ambassador Sujan R. Chinoy made a presentation on the structure and role of the Institute and India-West Asia relations. Established in 1965, MP-IDSA is an autonomous body funded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Government of India. The scope of research activities undertaken by MP-IDSA broadly includes issues relating to defence, internal and external security and international relations. Its governance is overseen by the Executive Council, traditionally presided over by the Defence Minister of India. Amb. Chinoy highlighted the diverse spectrum of research initiatives undertaken by the Institute's various Centres, shedding light on key issues and areas of research by the scholars. Emphasising MP-IDSA's contributions, he mentioned significant publications, specifying two esteemed peer-reviewed research journals: Strategic Analysis and Journal of Defence Studies.

    Amb. Chinoy mentioned the training mechanism of the Institute in terms of capacity building through short modules for various stakeholders, including Defence Forces (NDC, DSSC, CDM), OFB, BSF Academy, ITBP, Customs, SSB, NTRO, IFS, State Governments and Young Parliamentarians. MP-IDSA has also served as a knowledge partner of MoD for the India-Africa Defence Dialogue, Aero-India and Defence Expo in Lucknow-2020 and Gandhinagar-2022. The Institute has also undertaken and completed study reports/projects on military equipment, cyber security, border infrastructure, defence cooperation, terror financing, border management and maritime security.

    Amb. Sujan Chinoy provided a brief overview of India-West Asia relations, highlighting the historical and civilizational links and India’s position as a stakeholder in peace and security in the region. He emphasised that since 2014, high-level engagements have increased remarkably because of the leadership of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi adopted the “Think West” policy to deepen engagement in West Asia in economic, defence, security and strategic cooperation.

    With regard to energy cooperation, Amb. Chinoy stated that the Gulf region is the most reliable energy source, supplying 60 per cent of India’s total oil imports. On a positive note, India is deepening engagement with Gulf countries in the green and renewable energy sector as there is a convergence of interests between India and Gulf nations to reduce carbon emissions.

    He also highlighted India’s support to West Asian countries during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing Hydroxychloroquine tablets and medical equipment to the West Asian countries. India sent a team of 88 medical and healthcare professionals to the UAE.

    Amb. Chinoy said that under Prime Minister Modi, defence and security cooperation between India and West Asia has deepened substantially. The number of joint exercises between the Army, Navy and Air Force of India and the West Asian countries has increased. India has invited Gulf countries to invest in ‘Make in India’ defence initiatives. Amb. Chinoy mentioned that ISIS networks in India’s neighbourhood are a matter of concern for India. Hence, India is enhancing cooperation in exchanging information relating to terrorist activities and other security challenges to combat threats. He also underlined piracy as a common threat to India and West Asia. For both, maintaining the safety of Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) is extremely important. Since 2008, India has consistently deployed a naval ship in the Gulf of Aden. The importance of the Joint Defence Cooperation Committee, Ex Desert Flag, Zayed Talwar, IDEX, NAVDEX and space cooperation were also highlighted.

    India-UAE partnership is multifaceted, and high-level exchange of visits signify the importance of the relationship. The UAE President visited India for the G20 Leadership Summit, and PM Modi visited UAE in December 2023 to participate in the COP28 Summit. The UAE is considered India’s special friend and was invited as a Guest Country for India’s G20 Summit. Both countries have convergence of interest on issues such as trade, connectivity, climate, green energy, terrorism and piracy.

    The UAE is India’s third largest trading partner, with bilateral trade of around US$ 85 billion. Moreover, both countries signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in February 2022, and bilateral trade has increased by 15 per cent since the CEPA came into force in May 2022. The UAE is the seventh largest investor in India in terms of FDI and the second largest source of LNG and LPG. Remarkably, UAE is India’s second largest export destination, with US$ 31.61 billion in 2022-23. Amb. Chinoy also highlighted India’s connection with the UAE through 3.5 million Indian diaspora working and living in the UAE, contributing to the country’s progress. Notably, in 2022, India received US$ 20 billion from the UAE through diasporic remittances.

    The UAE is the first international partner to invest in India’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves. Besides, Indian companies have steadily increased their participation in the UAE’s energy sector. Under the mandate of I2U2, the UAE has pledged to invest US$ 2 billion to establish Integrated Food Parks in India.

    In his remarks, the head of the NDC UAE delegation Brig. Gen. Staff Pilot Khalifa AlShamsi stated that the NDC UAE broadly covers aspects relating to international relations including military, economic, diplomatic and security as primary domains. He specified that NDC UAE, through its Strategic Security Studies Programme, prepares future military and civilian leaders of the highest calibre. He expressed hope for the future of the India-UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and acknowledged India's support to the UAE during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Q&A Session

    Questions relating to MP-IDSA’s research on evolving issues, security challenges for India, I2U2, India’s leadership in Global South and Research and Development (R&D) were asked by the members of the NDC UAE delegation. Amb. Chinoy stated that MP-IDSA engages experts/officials from both defence and civilian categories who are experts in different areas. Scholars of MP-IDSA regularly publish books, Op-eds, commentaries, and research papers in journals. Scholars also visit various places across the country and abroad to present papers at conferences.

    On the issue of security challenges for India, Amb. Chinoy spoke about threats emerging from China, Pakistan and disruptions in maritime security. He described challenges relating to maintaining rapid and inclusive economic growth with peace and tranquillity on the periphery. On the issue of India’s leadership potential in Global South, Amb. Chinoy specified that India has already showcased its capacity to be a leader of the Global South by successfully holding the G20 Presidency. The successful conduct of the Voice of Global South Summit at the beginning and end of India’s G20 Presidency has showcased India’s priorities. India’s proposal to include the African Union in the G20 was highly appreciated and was approved by all members, showing the potential of Indian leadership of the Global South. Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) has been widely appreciated in the Global South as a remarkable capacity-building initiative.

    With regard to R&D, Amb. Chinoy mentioned that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), under the Ministry of Defence, Government of India, is committed to empowering the nation with advanced defence technologies. With a mission to attain self-reliance in crucial defence technologies and systems, DRDO aims to provide the armed forces with cutting-edge weaponry and equipment aligned with the specific needs of the three Services.

    Scholars from MP-IDSA emphasised enhancing collaborative efforts between maritime agencies of India and UAE, considering the adverse impact of climate change is on the rise. Suggestions were also given to deepen the joint counter-terrorism efforts by both countries.

    (Report prepared by Mr. Abhishek Yadav, Research Analyst, West Asia Centre, MP-IDSA)