Relations between the UAE and India is a story of success and hope, said Indian author and politician Dr Shashi Tharoor on Friday. He was speaking at a programme on India-UAE strategic partnership from a cultural aspect, hosted by the National Media Council (NMC) at the Sharjah International Book Fair.
Steering clear of Indian political issues, Tharoor spoke elaborately on how the strategic relationship between India and the UAE has grown particularly in the recent years and the two nations have become closer.
Talking about the crucial role the Arab world plays in terms of political strategic security and economic terms, Tharoor concluded that “we cannot live without the Arab world” after giving examples of some crude numbers showing the interdependence of India and the region.
“Our ties pre-date our emergence as modern nations. India’s relations with the Middle East can be traced to the earliest years of the ancient Harappan civilisation. Since thousands of years, our ancestors exchanged goods, ideas and experiences that have left an abiding mark on our civilisation ethos, giving our people similarities of perceptions.”
He added: “India’s presence in the Arab imagination is not just historical or commercial but involves far more intimate mutual dependence affecting every sphere of daily life. This can be gauged by the fact that so many Arab families bear the name Al Hindi or Hind.”
Talking about how optimistic he is about the relationship between the two countries, he said: “Looking at the economic dynamism of the UAE, the country has come to symbolise the incredible tales of entrepreneurship and risk-taking by UAE-based businessmen of Indian origin. This shows our mutual trust that cuts across ethnic, linguistic and cultural difference.”
Describing India-UAE journey as ‘a story of success and hope’, Tharoor said: “There are very few parts of the world with such astonishing diversity of expatriates living in such large numbers, working and succeeding as it is here in the UAE. I must say that the economic prosperity and social stability of the UAE shows there is no clash of civilisations here but this country only shows how beautifully there can be coexistence of civilisations.”
Talking about his book Why I am a Hindu, Tharoor revealed that he shares a good relationship with Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, and once took the liberty to jokingly ask him: “Although you speak beautifully about tolerance, why was my book Why I am a Hindu banned here. Expressing his shock, Sheikh Nahyan ordered the ban to be lifted in just a couple of hours.”
He said acceptance of difference is what characterises India-UAE relationship. “We respect each other and accept each other as different. Relationships always should be worked on, sustained and nurtured whether its son and father, husband and wife or the UAE and India. Our proximity requires sustained hard work from both sides.”
When asked why no other Indian Prime Minister had visited the UAE in recent times except Narendra Modi, Tharoor said: “I applaud Modi’s visits to the UAE but one thing is for sure, India-UAE relationship is genuinely above and beyond political issues. Even if the PMs didn’t come, many of our ministers came frequently and gave this relationship a strong priority not only at the political level but also at personal level, security level and all other levels.”
The session was moderated by Indian writer and media advisor to the NMC Shajahan Madampatt.