Middle East: The Mess India Cannot Avoid

By The Editor 

It’s a f**** up world, that were the comments of one of my colleagues as I overheard him talking to someone about Yemen and the conflict that has escalated into a civil war. Indian government and navy showed great initiative by rescuing hundreds of Indians stranded in that part of the world but our overall policy in Middle East has always been kind of indifferent, though in public’s eyes we have friendly relations with all the key players there but we are not really sure who can we consider our enemy or friend.

 Middle East has always been source of spirituality, faith, riches and problems for the rest of the world. Thousands of Indians flock to the Gulf countries to seek their fortunes in its construction sites and oil wells. Some manage to do good but a good number of our countrymen gets exploited by employers, agents and government officials who have little regards for a day labor much less a foreign one. Earlier governments use to leave people on their fate most of the time and whatever news we usually get from the Middle East on Indian laborers are mostly the harrowing ones. Deplorable living conditions, employers who treat these workers as slaves confiscating their passport and documents are just to name a few. Many disappear, sometime in jails and sometimes from the face of the Earth waiting for someone to hear their plight. Since our current prime minister is going extra mile to reach out to Indian diaspora across the world, expectations are higher that we take up the cause for our compatriots in Gulf countries.  The life of an Indian sweating in the dusty sites of Dubai should not mean any less than an NRI surgeon living in the Hamptons.

 Middle Eastern politics and tug war that comes with it is no concern for Indians, we don’t have a dog in the fight but our interest in oil is what keeps us involved but normally on international stage when it comes to Kashmir and nuclear issues the major players in Gulf like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran like to bet on our neighboring Pakistan. Israel is another country in the region who can prove to be a valuable ally to India in terms of trade and international politics, even among Indians Israel enjoys a favorable opinion for their heavy handedness on terrorism and parallels that people draw between India-Pakistan and Israel-Palestine.  Though Congress government in past have shied away from this small democracy but now with Modi at the helm of affairs we can expect the things to change over the coming years.

Especially now when US is talking to Iran to shape up a nuclear deal it will change the equation in the region and more others will be motivated pursue their nuclear ambitions, at least Saudi Arabia have made that quiet clear. That shouldn’t be a problem to us but combine that with volatility and extremism like ISIS, Al Qaeda. We don’t know who and when will turn against us and even if our shores are safe we might get dragged into something we don’t want. Our too much dependence on oil sooner or later would come back to bite us. We can only hope our government will take a foresighted approach in these matters and position India as an indispensable influencer in world politics.

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