India and Jordan: A New Era of Cooperation

Focus

The bilateral relationship between India and Jordan in the 21st century heralds a new era in cooperation, believes Shaheli Das

India has administered the development of its relationship with several countries in a region historically referred to as West Asia by Indian diplomats, with great competence over the last few decades. Some observers view it as a balancing act, which is indicative of an expansive new tactic towards the region. This region has unswervingly been identified as a chief constituent of India’s grand strategy, yet in recent times, one can clearly perceive a shift in India’s policy from engaging with a limited number of regional partners towards an approach of ‘multi-engagement’.

India’s bilateral relationship with Jordan is characterised by goodwill and warmth based on mutual respect. Both the countries share a colonial past and eventually emerged as autonomous entities in 1946 and 1947 respectively. The first bilateral accord for cooperation was signed in 1947, which was officially sanctified in 1950. This led to the institution of diplomatic ties between the two countries. To further strengthen their diplomatic relationship, regular exchange of high level visits have taken place between the two sides.

Development of Warm and Cordial Relations

Even though bilateral relations between India and Jordan were lukewarm in the initial years, the visit of King Hussein to India and his dialogue with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in December 1963 contributed to warming of relations. Pandit Nehru, on his part, pledged India’s readiness and enthusiasm to assist Jordan in further promoting its socio-economic development. This visit was significant as it cemented relations between the two nations on one hand, and paved the way for newer developments in the future on the other, as highlighted by the Joint Communiqué issued on December 16, 1963 in Delhi.

High Level Visits

That visit was followed by Late King Hussein’s visit to India in 1983 for the seventh Non-Aligned Summit, with a subsequent State Visit in 1986. There were many more high level visits during this phase that showcased the growing warmth in relations. In September 1997, Queen Noor attended the funeral of Mother Teresa in Calcutta. Soon after in November 1997, she visited India once again to inaugurate Pune’s Mahindra United World College. Queen Rania Al-Abdullah visited India to partake in the ‘India Today Conclave’ in March 2006.

A number of high level visits took place from the Indian side as well. In July 1988, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi made an official visit to Jordan. E Ahamed, former Minister of State for External Affairs visited Jordan in 2004 and invited King Abdullah to visit India on behalf of former President Abdul Kalam.

Exceptionally Successful Royal State Visit

The December 2006, a 'landmark' State Visit to India of His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein and Her Majesty Queen Rania was a milestone in India’s bilateral relationship with Jordan. It provided an exceptional opportunity for interaction and the exchange of ideas on all facets of India’s bilateral relations. A number of agreements were concluded during this visit, especially in the fields of tourism, agriculture, information technology, cultural exchange and investment protection. Efforts were also made to enhance trade and investment ties, as exemplified by signing of the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) on December 1, 2006. BIPA sought to protect and promote investments between the two countries with the intention of escalating bilateral investment flows.

The dialogue between the two sides was limited not only to bilateral issues, but also global concerns, which included terrorism and the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP). Along with the desire to provide a ‘political horizon’ to the Israelis and Palestinians to overcome their fear and distrust, the Jordanian King expressed concern and hope to bring about a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Jammu and Kashmir. On the whole, the visit was described by the King as ‘exceptionally successful’.

Regular Exchange Adds Strength to Ties

The 21st century has witnessed regular exchange in order to strengthen the already strong relationship and promote cooperation through various ministries, which have contributed to the overall development of both India and Jordan. In February 2010, Jyotiraditya Scindia, former Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, visited Jordan. In November 2011, former MoS (EA), E Ahamed, on his way to Ramallah, made a transit visit to Amman where he met the then newly appointed Prime Minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh. The main issues during their dialogue related to regional development, means of amplification of their bilateral relations and topics of mutual interest. Discussions also took place regarding the prospect of implementing the protocols endorsed by both sides, especially in the labour segment. The minister paid an official visit to Jordan on July 2-3, 2013 and called on PM Abdullah Ensour and also met Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

In the recent past, a delegation led by former External Affairs Minister S M Krishna made a transit visit to Amman in January 2012. Bilateral talks were held and Jordan was represented by Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. The issues that governed the discussion included the peace process in the Middle East, contemporary regional developments and the desirable channels to promote bilateral relations, ways to boost commercial ties, and cooperation in areas of mutual concern.

In the fourth Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development in Amman in December 2012, India was represented by Ambassador R R Dash and Susheel Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation.

The latest Foreign Office Consultations took place in Amman after a lull of over eight years on April 1, 2014. A constructive dialogue on the entire range of bilateral relations was held, with India being represented by a delegation led by Anil Wadhwa, Secretary East and the delegation from Jordan being led by Mohammad Taisir Masadeh, Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Discussions on cooperation in the fields of defence, security, energy, culture and economy received special attention. Anil Wadhwa held a separate round of talks with Nasser Judeh and Hatem Halawani, Minister for Industry, Trade and Supply and Minister for Information Communication Technology respectively.

A brief overview of the major bilateral visits makes it clear that there is a constant urge on both sides to further strengthen bilateral ties through regular high level exchange. India is keen to boost its collaboration with Jordan in industrial, trade and economic spheres together with expertise exchange and defence consultation. Intellectuals in India view Jordan as a classic model in the region that is synonymous with peace and stability.

However, for both countries to achieve full potential of their relations, more people-to-people exchange must be encouraged. Government agreements have their own sanctity, yet greater engagement among NGOs and private sector of both the countries must be stimulated. A pro-active foreign policy of the new Indian government towards the region is desired at present.

The bilateral relationship between India and Jordan in the 21st century heralds a new era in cooperation. As progressive countries, they seek peace and stability in their ties. The leadership on both sides through mutual goodwill gestures and policy initiatives has taken Indo-Jordanian relations to new heights. India-Jordan relationship has emerged as a benchmark of a sustainable model of bilateral ties, and is an indicator of the growing proximity between South Asia and West Asia in the forthcoming years.

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Diplomatist Magazine was launched in October of 1996 as the signature magazine of L.B. Associates (Pvt) Ltd, a contract publishing house based in Noida, a satellite town of New Delhi, India, the National Capital.

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