On the 73rd Independence Day of India
On the auspicious occasion of the 73rd Independence Day of India, I would like to extend my warm greetings and felicitations to all Indian citizens and Persons of Indian Origin in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
I would also like to salute all the freedom fighters, known and unknown, men and women, belonging to different faiths, speaking different languages, hailing from urban, rural and tribal areas, who had made enormous sacrifices to secure freedom for India.
India@73 is comparatively a young nation which carries on its back deep-rooted history and civilization dating back to more than 6000 years. India’s multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious society offers a unique and incomparable model of peaceful co-existence, aptly described as India’s ‘Unity in Diversity’. As a Nation, India continues to strengthen its democracy and the core principles of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity, aiming at the inclusive growth of its 1.2 billion population.
Contemporary India has emerged as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world with GDP growth exceeding 7%. India’s robust economic growth is a result of consistent economic reforms, tight fiscal policies, and measures undertaken by the Government of India towards ease of doing business and improving the investment climate in India. Significant thrust is being given to boost the manufacturing sector in India, enhance skills and to put in place a better ecosystem for start-ups and disruptive technologies to ignite and rekindle the ‘India Story’ and lead the country on a path of sustainable development.
As India’s economy is growing, our global and regional integration is increasing, and our diplomatic outreach is expanding. India advocates a democratic and rules-based international order that emphasizes the equality of all nations, irrespective of size, population and military might. We are in favour of comprehensive reforms of the UN Security Council and its expansion to make it more representative, effective and responsive to the geopolitical realities of the 21st century.
India and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations reflecting the centuries-old economic and socio-cultural ties underpinned by warmth and goodwill between the people of the two countries.
Since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1947 soon after India gained its Independence, the bilateral relationship has progressively evolved into a multifaceted and mutually beneficial strategic partnership.
The highly successful visit of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to Riyadh in April 2016 and the State Visit of HRH Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to India in February this year have further consolidated the domains of existing partnership, which now span through diverse fields such as security and defence cooperation, energy security, food security, healthcare, infrastructure, entertainment, tourism and culture, besides trade, investments and economic cooperation.
Saudi Arabia plays a significant role in ensuring India's energy security by meeting its burgeoning energy demand. The Kingdom is the second-largest supplier of crude oil to India supplying over 40.33 MMT of crude oil annually, which is roughly 19% of India’s total requirement.
Both countries have consciously moved ahead from the traditional buyer-seller relationship to a strategic partnership in the energy sector based on mutual complementarities and interdependence. The trilateral collaboration between Saudi Aramco, UAE’s ADNOC and the Indian Consortium comprising of IOC, HPCL & BPCL in the development of world’s largest Greenfield Refinery in the Raigad District of Maharashtra with a capacity of 1.2 million bpd and costing around US$ 44 billion is reflective of the growing strength and depth of our relationship.
Trade and economic partnership are other important elements of India’s engagement with the Kingdom, which is India’s fourth largest trading partner after China, US, and the UAE with a bilateral trade of $34 billion during 2018-19.
Indian companies like L&T, TCS, Tata Motors, Tech Mahendra, Shapoorji Pallonji, TCIL, Infosys, Wipro and OYO Hotels have an emphatic presence in Saudi Arabia. Significantly, Indian companies have made investments to the tune of US$ 1.5 billion in the Kingdom.
On the Saudi side, SABIC has invested US$ 100 million in its R&D facility in Bengaluru, while Saudi Al-Fanar group has invested US$ 300 million in setting up a 300 MW power project in Kutch. The Kingdom is in the process of constituting a Saudi Infrastructure Fund for making investments in India.
Indian companies are keen to share their expertise in the execution of prestigious projects in the Kingdom such as the NEOM City Project, Red Sea Tourism Project and Al Qiddiya Entertainment City which are part of ‘Vision 2030’ unveiled by the Crown Prince.
India has taken a major step in easing travel formalities for Saudi citizens by introducing e-visas for the Kingdom since June 2019. Such visas are issued within 48 hours and are valid for one year. Simultaneously, Saudi businessmen can also avail of the facility of 5-year multiple visas issued by the Embassy.
This year 200,000 pilgrims from India would be performing Hajj, the largest number handled by India in its history of Hajj management. We appreciate the kind gesture on the part of the Saudi leadership in increasing India’s Hajj quota by 25,000 as compared to last year.
Saudi Arabia is home to 2.7 million-strong Indian community, whose work ethics, peaceful nature, professionalism and sincerity in making a meaningful contribution to the economic development of the Kingdom have been well recognized.
I would like to avail of this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and HRH Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman for their unflinching support and cooperation in transforming the bilateral relations between the two countries into a strategic partnership and for ensuring the safety and well-being of Indian nationals living in the Kingdom.
I wish these bonds of friendship between our countries grow even stronger in the years to come.
Dr. Ausaf Sayeed
Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia