The India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council represents a pivotal milestone in the diplomatic relations between these two nations. Recently, a summit-level meeting was held, marking the first-ever meeting of this council. In this article, we explore the structure, purpose, significance, and functioning of this strategic partnership.
This topic of “India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.
The Summit-Level Meeting
- This summit-level meeting was the first of its kind, underscoring the growing importance of the Indo-Saudi relationship.
- Several significant decisions were made during this meeting, including the expeditious progress of the $50-billion West Coast refinery project.
- Areas for intensified cooperation were identified, encompassing energy, defense, semiconductor technology, and space exploration.
Details on the West Coast Refinery Project
- The West Coast refinery project is a massive endeavor, comprising a 60 million tonnes refinery-cum-petrochemical complex.
- It is located on the Maharashtra coast and involves participation from prominent Indian entities such as the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL), as well as international participants like the Saudi Arabian Oil Co (Saudi Aramco) and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc).
Hydrocarbons Relationship Shift
- The summit marked a shift in the hydrocarbons relationship between India and Saudi Arabia, elevating it to the status of a comprehensive energy partnership.
- Eight agreements were signed, aimed at boosting cooperation in areas such as digitization and investment.
The Structure of the Council
The India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council is structured around two key pillars:
- Committee on Political, Security, Social, and Cultural Cooperation: This committee focuses on diplomatic and cultural aspects of the partnership.
- Committee on Economy and Investments: This committee drives economic cooperation and investment initiatives.
The primary purpose of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council is to establish a high-level framework for steering and enhancing the bilateral relationship between the two nations.
The establishment of this council is of significant importance, as Saudi Arabia has formed such a partnership with only a few countries before India. Previous partners include the UK, France, and China, highlighting the unique status and potential of this relationship.
How Does the Council Function?
The India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council operates through various engagement levels, including:
- Summit Level: Involving the Prime Minister and Crown Prince.
- Ministerial-Level: Key ministers from both countries.
- Senior Officials’ Meetings: High-level officials from relevant government departments.
- Joint Working Groups (JWGs): Specialized groups that work under the two main committees.
JWGs under the Political Committee
These working groups focus on various aspects of political and security cooperation, including:
- Political & Consular
- Legal & Security
- Social & Cultural
- Joint Committee on Defense Cooperation
JWGs under the Economic Committee
These working groups drive economic and investment cooperation in specific areas:
- Agriculture & Food Security
- Technology & Information Technology
- Industry and Infrastructure
Who Are the Partners?
The India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council brings together the two nations of Saudi Arabia and India in a collaborative effort to enhance their diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties.
When Was the Council Established?
The India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council was established in 2019, setting the stage for a deeper and more strategic relationship between these two dynamic nations.