“India needs a balanced West Asia policy. By skewing it towards the Saudis in pursuit of short-term goals, New Delhi runs the risk of antagonising Tehran.” Comment. (200 Words)

India’s Foreign policy towards West Asia is said to be tilting towards Saudi Arabia on following grounds :
  1. During Sanction : Despite Iran’s potential & India’s desperate demand, India choose to cut down its energy cooperation with Iran during sanctions.
  2. After Sanctions : India showed lack of interest in rebooting ties with Iran after sanction withdrawal which is reflected in China & not India being the first nation to visit post sanction Iran.
  3. Multipronged ties with Gulf : First UAE & now Saudi Arabia, India has widen its relationship with these gulf nations.
Skewed Policy towards Saudi Arabia may result in short-term gains for India :
  1. Strategic : Strained Pak-Saudi relations & increasing Indo-Saudi Cooperation may result in Saudi Arabia to favour India as against Pakistan on International forums.
  2. Energy Security : Saudi Arabia being the largest crude oil supplier to India, its importance in India’s energy security is paramount.
  3. Remittances : Saudi Arabia being the largest supplier of remittances to India, Stability in the West Asia & Particularly Saudi Arabia is vital.
  4. Energy Market : In view of shale gas revolution in US, economic slowdown in China & Sanction free Iran – India would be the favourable market for the Saudi Arabia.
However, this skewed policy can damage Indian interest in long term :
  1. Strategic : Despite recent Strain in Pak-Saudi relations, we should not forget Pakistan is a historically of Saudi & Pak factor will remain more leverage than India for Saudi Arabia.
  2. Regional Stability : Recent aggressive policies of Saudi Arabia are destabilising the West Asia which is against the Indian interest. Ex : support for rebels in Syria leading to rise of ISIS.
  3. Energy : India’s huge upcoming demand as predicted by IEA requires diversification of partners as much as possible, depending on few major countries can be proved disastrous .
  4. Soft power : := Deepening engagement too much with Saudi Arabia may indicate giving legitimacy to Dictatorial government which may reduce our soft power at international forum.
India needs a tri-directional foreign policy which can accommodate all 3 regional powers – Israel, Saudi Arabia & Iran.



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