People-to-people engagement is backbone of India-Gulf relations

In an exclusive interview to Al Arabiya English, India’s Energy, Coal and Mines Minister says India has become one of the major player in renewable energy

Ehtesham Shahid

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“With renewable energy becoming a part of the agenda of the GCC countries, India could also become the provider of renewable energy equipment and technology and we could see a reverse flow on the energy side.”

This is how Piyush Goyal, India’s Energy, Coal and Mines Minister, has described the Gulf-India energy interdependence. Goyal, however, was quick to add that it is not the energy but the tradition and people-to-people engagement, which is the backbone of this relationship.

“Energy is a part of the relationship but I think the more important and defining feature is the human element. Millions of Indians come to Saudi Arabia and the UAE and work here. All of this is the strength of our relationship,” he said in an exclusive interview to Al Arabiya English.

The minister was in Abu Dhabi to take part in the 10th edition of the World Future Energy Summit and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) General Assembly. He also attended a meeting of the International Solar Alliance, which has 25 countries.

Goyal said India has become one of world’s major players in renewable energy and, according to him, the country’s program on renewable energy is “probably the fastest scale-up ever in mankind”.

Energy interdependence

According to Goyal, India’s relationship with the Gulf has strengthened manifold since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office. “In my memory I am yet to see a time between the GCC and India when the relationship was as strong and as mature as it is today,” he said.

“We have had wonderful interactions with countries like Saudi Arabia and there is a lot of tradition and people-to-people engagement between the Gulf countries and India, which is the backbone of our relationship,” he said adding that millions of Indians come to Saudi Arabia and the UAE and work.

“All of this is the strength of our relationship,” he added. In terms of the energy interdependence, of course India has been importing oil and gas from this region while providing human capital here.

Piyush Goyal
Piyush Goyal


Goyal emphasized that India’s recent decision to demonetize some currencies hasn’t been as disruptive for his ministry. “The November figure just came out and during the month there was an 8 percent growth in energy consumption,” he said.

“We believe that it has been a hugely successful exercise and that we have finally been able to really demonstrate to the world that India is serious about ending corruption and this menace of black money. India is going to be at the forefront fighting terrorism and drug cartels, which often use counterfeit currency of large value note,” Goyal said.

According to him, this government means business and wants to clean up the Indian economy. “It is better to be part of the honest economy as the new normal is going to be one where the country works with honesty”.

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