Compiled by: Hany Abdel Fattah
I feel privileged to be serving in Egypt, a country that is one of the world’s most ancient civilisations, like India. India and Egypt have enjoyed a history of close contact for centuries. Emperor Ashoka’s edicts in India refer to his relations with Egypt under Ptolemy-II. In modern times, Mahatma Gandhi and Saad Zaghloul shared common goals on the independence of their countries, a relationship that led to an exceptionally close friendship between President Nasser and Prime Minister Nehru, leading to a Friendship Treaty between the two countries in 1955.
The two countries boast of a rich cultural heritage from time immemorial. In fact, one finds so many subtle similarities between Egypt and India based on the rich traditions and practices emanating from our ancient civilsations. I can easily relate to the hospitality, warmth and cultural values of my Egyptian friends. We share similar cultural roots in terms of food, music and love for Bollywood movies. Of late, dubbed Indian TV series have become popular across most Arab countries and the trend is evident in Egypt. In my opinion, Egyptians can easily relate to Indian movies and TV shows and are fascinated by the cultural values and traditions that they portray.
When one views India’s relationship with Egypt in more recent times, one finds that our friendship has withstood the test of time. The continuous political engagement at the highest level has further strengthened our relations. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s visits to India in October 2015 and in September 2016 gave further impetus to our brotherly and friendly relations with Egypt. Foreign ministers of the two countries have also paid reciprocal visits in 2015 and 2018, in addition to many other important ministerial level visits and meetings. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Modi and President Sisi held telephone calls and expressed solidarity with each other to fight the menace with mutual co-operation. Egypt procured 50000 doses of ‘Made-in-India’ Covid-19 vaccines while India procured 300,000 doses of Remdesivir to fight the second wave of Covid in India in May 2021. In addition to this, Egypt dispatched three planes with medical aid to India in May 2021 which helped to save many lives.
Egypt has traditionally been one of India’s most important trading partners in Africa. The India-Egypt Bilateral Trade Agreement has been in operation since March 1978 and is based on the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ clause and the bilateral trade has increased more than five times in last ten years. Bilateral trade has expanded rapidly in 2021-22, amounting to US$ 7.26 billion while registering a 75% increase as compared to FY 2020-21. The trade figures for the first two months of this financial year show continuing growth. Around 50 Indian companies have invested in Egypt with a combined investment exceeding US$ 3.15 billion in sectors like apparel, agriculture, chemicals, energy, automobiles, retail and others. Overall, these companies provide direct employment to approximately 38,000 Egyptians. I am happy to share that a further investment worth US$ 700 million by Indian companies in Egypt is under active consideration. Several Indian companies have also shown interest in Green Hydrogen and Green Ammonia project in Egypt, including a recent MoU by Renew-Power to invest US$ 8 billion in Egypt. More than ten business delegations have visited Egypt during the last one year to participate in Trade Fairs and to have B2B discussions. Embassy has also activated institutional mechanisms by conducting ‘5th India-Egypt Joint Trade Committee’ and ‘5th Joint Business Council meetings to look for bilateral synergies in our quest to further deepen our bilateral engagement.
Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) of the Indian Embassy is working to strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between the people of the two countries, through its courses in Yoga, Hindi & Urdu languages, dance & music, academic seminars, Film Shows, Exhibitions, and cultural festivals, etc. Its language classes have been particularly popular since their beginning in 1992. Every year, India offers a number of scholarships to Egyptian students for higher education in reputed Indian universities and colleges from Undergraduate to Ph D level. Since the decline of Covid-19 pandemic, Embassy has resumed most of its activities in commercial and cultural domains. This week we have an Indian “Kathak” dance troupe in Egypt which will perform at Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said.
India and Egypt has seen steady expansion in bilateral defence co-operation. The two air forces conducted their first ever Joint Tactical Air Exercise, Dessert Warrior, in late October 2021 in India. The Chief of Air Staff of India, Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhary visited Egypt in November 2021. Egyptian Navy also participated in Multilateral Indian Naval Exercise MILAN-2022 in Feb-March 2022 in India. A 57-member Indian Air Force contingent with three Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft and two C-17 aircraft visited Egypt to participate in a month-long Tactical Leadership Programme in June 2022. Indian Naval Ships are also regularly visiting Egyptian ports on goodwill visits. The Commander-in-Chief of Egyptian Air Force, Air Marshal Mohamed Abbas Helmy visited India in the first week of July 2022.
Emerging from the shackles of colonialism, both India and Egypt have shared close political understanding based on long history of contacts and co-operation in bilateral, regional and global issues. We have co-operated closely in multilateral fora and were the founding members of Non-Aligned Movement. India represents the aspirations of developing countries in multilateral fora and has been vociferously seeking reforms in the UN and other international organisations. India and Egypt are marching ahead to fulfill aspirations of their respective citizens to gain their rightful place in the comity of nations. Egypt’s initiative to host COP-27 in Sharm El-Sheikh in November 2022 showcases Egypt’s readiness and wherewithal to play a crucial role in matters of global concern. India will participate in the CoP-27 with a large delegation and work closely for a successful and productive CoP-27.
The year 2022 is of particular significance as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and Egypt. Both sides have planned a number of activities to make this occasion memorable. We plan to host the next edition of “India by the Nile” in October 2022. The Festival showcases various classical Indian dance forms together with a mix of Indian cuisine, Yoga and Bollywood. We anticipate an enhanced level of engagement at political, economical and cultural level in the near future to further strengthen our millenia old bilateral ties.
Long live the friendship between
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