The strategic importance of the Arab world in general and the Gulf in particular often gets lost in the current Indian growth story and its rising status on the international stage. Yet, it is the partnership between India and this part of the world, nearly 5,000 years old, that has contributed significantly to India’s economic growth and development over the years. The Arab world is home to over six million Indians, most of them in the Gulf—India’s largest trading partner with a whopping $110 billion and the main source for its energy needs. Besides, it is the remittance of Indians in the Gulf that helped India tide over its foreign exchange reserves crisis and continues to contribute to the country’s trillion-dollar economy. Surprisingly, there is very little material on this engagement and how it grew and developed. But Venu Rajamony, a career Indian diplomat, who served as India’s consul-general in Dubai, has made a wonderful attempt to recreate the magic between India and the Arab world.
This coffee-tabler, rich with text and photographs, some of them from rare collections, narrates a great story that began with the first contacts between the Arab traders and the rulers of India’s southern states before spreading to other parts of the country. It’s a symbiotic relationship through trade and commerce, religion and culture, health and education and in modern days through investment and human resources. Though this is not your standard history book, there is enough material to interest the reader in this important region.