India and Iran – an important connection


by Mark Ulyseas

In the wake of the Saudi-Israeli delegation to India, PM Modi has now accepted an invitation from Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to visit his country as soon as possible. Of course there is much to discuss: India’s financing of the Chabahar port project, Afghanistan etc. The Chabahar port project is of strategic importance for it is in direct competition with the Chinese controlled Gwadar Port in Pakistan. The USA has cautioned India against the deal, whilst Russia is standing by to help out.

Chabahar Port, Iran

Interestingly, India broke from tradition and abstained from voting against Israel in the UN Human Rights Council, even though it criticised Israel’s continued expansion of settlements.

Iran’s ambassador to India Gholamreza Ansari has said that a state visit by the Indian Prime Minister would benefit the entire region.

Presently India buys oil from Iran. There are approx. 25,000 Iranians studying at various colleges in India (not religious schools…these schools are frequented by Saudis). And the number is growing. Some years ago there was a controversy created by the expelling of some students from both sides. But things have returned to business as usual.

Iran and India have a historical connection that dates back 300 BCE when Ashoka, the Buddhist emperor, ruled from Afghanistan across the Indian sub-continent. In around the 9th century CE the Zoroastrians fled Islam and arrived on the shores of India seeking shelter. They were called Parsi (word originated from their language, Farsi). There are sponsored tours for Indian Parsis wishing to visit Iran.

The stakes are high for India in the event the Saudi-Israeli combine decides unilateral military action against Iran in the event of breakdown of nuclear talks. Of Israel, Iran, India and Saudi Arabia, it will be Saudi Arabia that will lose nothing in the aftermath of a military strike.

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