The 13th Oil & Gas HR Round Table

A daylong conference was held on Thursday 21st August at Hotel Taj Lands in Mumbai. The conference was organized under the guidance of Dr. Parag Diwan the Vice Chancellor of UPES (University of Petroleum and Energy Studies). The main theme of the conference was “Repositioning Oil & Gas Industry as an Attractive Talent Destination”. The main focus of the seminar was to discuss various means and ways of making the O&G industry an attractive sector to work in across HR minded people.

Mr. Sidharath Tuli, Vice President & Head (HR), Hydrocarbon IC. L&T Ltd., was the program director. As many as 8 CEOs participated to deliberate on their perspective of the chosen topic, representing TOTAL Oil India Pvt. Ltd., Kongsberg Oil & Gas Tech. Pvt. Ltd., Emerson Process Management (India) Pvt. Ltd., CGG Services India Pvt. Ltd., Essar Oil Ltd., Reliance Industries Ltd., Mercer India and Gulf Oil Lubricants India Ltd. 15 Speakers representing blue chip o&g companies namely, Shell, L&T, Essar, TechMahindra, GE, BG, and Schlumberger also graced the occasion.

The seminar attracted 150 attendees plus from over 70 companies including senior HR professionals representing major O&G companies, like HPCL, BPCL. Reliance, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Essar Oil, Engineers India and Shell. The entire academic back up support was provided by UPES rest was managed by sponsorship of renowned companies.

Hope this seminar will go a long way in attracting the able professionals to join Oil and Gas sector and maintain the legacy.

Thanking You,
Best Regards.
___________

Dr. Tabrez Ahmad | Professor & Associate Director | University of Petroleum & Energy Studies (College of Legal Studies) | Dehradun, U.K, INDIA | Tel Off: +91 135-2770137 Extension 548, Linkedin , facebook , Conferencelex , technolexindia , Iplexindia , Energylex , Corpolex , Editor JPL ; Editor IJBS, Editor GRJHSS, Editor JCSL , Editor E-commerce for Future & Trends

*Disclaimer:*
This e-mail is confidential and may also be legally privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify me immediately; you should not copy, forward, disclose or use it for any purpose either partly or completely. If you have received this message in error, please delete it and all copies from your system and mail to tabrezahmad7 Internet communications cannot be guaranteed to be timely, secure, error or virus-free. Also, the Web/Email administrator might not allow emails with attachment. Thus the sender does not accept liability for any errors or omissions.

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My Teacher and Mentor Professor Faizan Mustafa got SAARC’s Best Law Teacher Award 2014

Professor Faizan Mustafa who is presently the Vice Chancellor of Nalsar Law University Hyderabad got this year’s prestigious SAARC’s Best Law Teacher Award. In a unanimous decision, the high-powered jury consisting of Professor NR Madhav Menon, eminent jurist and Founder Vice Chancellor of NLSIU, Bangalore and Mr Lalit Bhasin, President of Indian Law Firms, announced the conferment of the award on Professor Mustafa.

The award, which carries Rs 1 Lakh cash, citation and a plaque, would be given on 6th September at Delhi by the Union Law Minister in the presence of eminent professors of law, judges and eminent lawyers like Ram Jethmalani and Fali Nariman. Earlier awardees include leading jurists such as Padamshree NR Madava Menon, Professor Ranbir Singh, Professor GV Ajjappa, Professor VS Mani, Professor Laxminath and Professor Mizanur Rehman of Dhaka University, Bangladesh. This is a known fact that the Professor Mustafa is a widely acclaimed scholar and commands great respect among his students like me. He introduced several courses such as Intellectual Property Rights, International Human Rights Law and Tourism Laws at AMU. I was the first person to opt the newly introduced course on Intellectual Property at AMU in 1997. He taught so well that created immense interest in the subject and ultimately IPR became my career option.

At NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, which he is presently leading as its Vice Chancellor, he designed and taught new courses like Diversity Management Law, Comparative Strict Liability Law, Multiculturalism and Minority Rights etc. He is the only academic who has been nominated as member of National Legal Services Authority, which is headed by the Chief Justice of India. He is a member at Executive Councils, Academic Councils and General Councils of various universities and has been on various committees responsible for searching new Vice Chancellors.

Prof. Faizan Mustafa started his career at Aligarh Muslim University in early 1990. As a LLM gold medallist, he served the university in various capacities like, Professor of Law, Dean Faculty of Law and Registrar. He was also engaged in various International activities like the drafting of Eritrean Constitution Professor of Law in Ethiopia and advisor in UAE. In Ethiopia, he was exposed to the civil law tradition, was required to teach High Court Judges and work under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister. The country had got a new constitution and he was the only Professor of constitutional law in the entire country. In UAE, he had the opportunity to found a business school and introduce the BBA-LL.B course.

I also have a privilege to work in close association with him in the foundation stages of KIIT Law School and National Law University, Orissa. At both places I worked with him in designing the curricula to promote integration of knowledge as he firmly believes that knowledge is at the intersections of disciplines.

Currently he is serving as the Vice-Chancellor of NALSAR University of Law and very active in writing newspaper articles and books. He has already written eight books and around 120 scholarly articles some of which have been relied upon by the apex court. He believe that institution building activity is a cooperative venture and try to do his share as the Chief Justice of India’s and Chancellor’s nominee to the Academic, Executive and General Councils of several institutions along with serving on various Search Committees for the appointment of Vice-Chancellors.

Law for him is an instrument of social change thus as the Senior Vice-Chairperson of Rural Litigation & Entitlement Kendra, Dehra Dun. He supported the filing of the country’ first environmental and ecology related PIL in the lime stone mining matter. RLEK also got voting rights for the indigenous people of Shivalik Hills i.e. Van Gujjars. He also got 19000 laborers accepted as bonded laborers by the Government and secured their release.

Nothing interests him more than cooking. I am also privileged to eat the famous dish the Akhni Pulao prepared by him. He enjoys teaching and has great passion for debating. He also represented India in various debates during his student life at AMU Aligarh.

His achievements are great motivation and a matter of proud for all of us and hope if we can inculcate some of his excellent skills in our personality.

May Allah provide good health and shower the choicest blessings on him so he can contribute more for the growth and further development of the legal world.

Thanking You,
Best Regards.
___________

Dr. Tabrez Ahmad | Professor & Associate Director | University of Petroleum & Energy Studies (College of Legal Studies) | Dehradun, U.K, INDIA | Tel Off: +91 135-2770137 Extension 548, Linkedin , facebook , Conferencelex , technolexindia , Iplexindia , Energylex , Corpolex , Editor JPL ; Editor IJBS, Editor GRJHSS, Editor JCSL , Editor E-commerce for Future & Trends

*Disclaimer:*
This e-mail is confidential and may also be legally privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify me immediately; you should not copy, forward, disclose or use it for any purpose either partly or completely. If you have received this message in error, please delete it and all copies from your system and mail to tabrezahmad7 Internet communications cannot be guaranteed to be timely, secure, error or virus-free. Also, the Web/Email administrator might not allow emails with attachment. Thus the sender does not accept liability for any errors or omissions.

4th Mediation Workshop at College of Legal Studies, UPES

College of Legal Studies, UPES is one of the few pioneer law schools in the world including Harvard Law School which provides special training to the students to inculcate and improve the mediation skills. The University organizes this program twice in a year since 2011.

The 4th Mediation Workshop at College of Legal Studies, UPES is going to begin from 16th August, 2014 by very eminent personalities in India and the world who has made their mark in mediation and have resolved various complex disputes by mediation globally.

This year the mediation team has following personalities

Mr. Niranjan Bhatt, Sr. Counsel, Ahmedabad High Court
Mr. J.P. Sengh, Sr. Advocate, HC, Delhi.
Ms. Sadhana Ramachandran, Advocate, Supreme Court of India
Ms. Veena Ralli, HC of Delhi

The team also includes two American Students Sophie and Carina who came to attend the program on a student exchange program.

Mr. Niranjan Bhatt happens to be the President of the Association of Indian Mediators while Mrs. Sadhana Ramachandran the Secretary of the association needs no introduction being the pioneers in India who promoted the very concept of Mediation and have trained several lawyers and law professionals in the last 15 years.

The Mediation is an informal and confidential way for people to resolve disputes with the help of a neutral mediator who is trained to help people discuss their differences. The mediator does not decide who is right or wrong or issue a decision. Instead, the mediator helps the parties work out their own solutions to problems. A mediation session usually lasts from 3 to 4 hours, although the time can vary depending on how complicated the case is. There is no charge to either party to attend the mediation. Mediation is a negotiation process in which a neutral third party assists the disputing parties in resolving their disputes.

A Mediator uses special negotiation and communication techniques to help the parties to come to a settlement. The parties can appoint a Mediator with their mutual consent or a mediator can be appointed by the Court in a pending litigation. The decision to mediate is completely voluntary. If the parties do not reach an agreement at the mediation, the charge will be investigated like any other charge. A written signed agreement reached during mediation is enforceable in court just like any other contract. Mediation always leaves the decision making power with the parties. A Mediator does not decide what is fair or right, does not apportion blame, nor renders any opinion on the merits or chances of success if the case is litigated. Rather, a mediator acts as a catalyst to bring the two disputing parties together by defining issues and limiting obstacles to communication and settlement. One of the greatest benefits of mediation is that it allows people to resolve the charge in a friendly way and in ways that meet their own unique needs. Also, a charge can be resolved faster through mediation. While it takes less than 3 months on average to resolve a charge through mediation, it can take 6 months or longer for a charge to be investigated.

Mediation is fair, efficient and can help the parties avoid a lengthy investigation and litigation. Mediation is an effective way of resolving disputes without the need to go to court. It involves an independent third party – a mediator – who helps both sides come to an agreement. Mediation is a flexible process that can be used to settle disputes in a whole range of situations such as: consumer disputes; contract disputes; family disputes; neighborhood disputes to name a few

Mediation is a voluntary process and will only take place if both parties agree. It is a confidential process where the terms of discussion are not disclosed to any party outside the mediation hearing. The mediation programs in addition to helping the students to work through complex personal disputes, the mediators are also developing skills of the students that will benefit them throughout their legal careers. Active listening, assumption-checking, empathy and interest-probing are skills that are important not only to mediation, but also to virtually any practice of law. If parties are unable to reach agreement, they can still go to court. Details about what went on at the mediation will not be disclosed or used at a court hearing. Both parties share the cost of mediation, which will depend on the value and complexity of the claim.

The Law students should be interested in learning about mediation because being a more effective communicator helps the students in all areas of their life, personal (for instance, handling conflict with friends and family better) as well as professional (like understanding and clarifying what clients and supervisors are looking for). The role of the mediator is to help parties reach a solution to their problem and to arrive at an outcome that both parties are happy to accept. Mediators avoid taking sides, making judgments or giving guidance. They are simply responsible for developing effective communications and building consensus between the parties. The focus of a mediation meeting is to reach a common sense settlement agreeable to both parties in a case.

Thanking You,
Best Regards.
___________

Dr. Tabrez Ahmad | Professor & Associate Director | University of Petroleum & Energy Studies (College of Legal Studies) | Dehradun, U.K, INDIA | Tel Off: +91 135-2770137 Extension 548, Linkedin , facebook , Conferencelex , technolexindia , Iplexindia , Energylex , Corpolex , Editor JPL ; Editor IJBS, Editor GRJHSS, Editor JCSL , Editor E-commerce for Future & Trends

*Disclaimer:*
This e-mail is confidential and may also be legally privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify me immediately; you should not copy, forward, disclose or use it for any purpose either partly or completely. If you have received this message in error, please delete it and all copies from your system and mail to tabrezahmad7 Internet communications cannot be guaranteed to be timely, secure, error or virus-free. Also, the Web/Email administrator might not allow emails with attachment. Thus the sender does not accept liability for any errors or omissions.

India Became the 17th Member of the Exclusive Washington Accord

After years of effort and several failures, India finally became the 17th member of the exclusive Washington Accord on Friday, 13th June, 2014. It will help to create equivalence of engineering degree programmes and allow Indians to practice engineering in other member countries. There are six international agreements governing mutual recognition of engineering qualifications and professional competence. In each of these agreements countries/economies who wish to participate may apply for membership, and if accepted become members or signatories to the agreement. In broad principle, each country/economy must meet its own costs, and the body making application must verify that it is the appropriate representative body for that country/economy. The credit for making India a member of Washington Accord goes to many individuals who worked behind the scenes for years.

The World Summit on Accreditation in 2012 was used for backroom diplomacy to allay fears about the Indian system. The process of accreditation had started during late Arjun Singh’s tenure as HRD minister. During Kapil Sibal’s time, India was made a temporary member. In January, 2014, a comprehensive audit of NBA was undertaken by the Washington Accord team.The oldest such agreement is the APEC Engineer agreement which commenced in 1999. This has Government support in the participating APEC economies. The formal rules and procedures were developed for a six-year peer-review of signatories and for admission of new signatories, following a period in provisional status. For the crowded list of Tier-II institutions, NBA has given a roadmap so that they are well prepared to become members of Washington Accord. NBA has asked universities to allow affiliated engineering colleges to design at least 50% of the course. For instance, Washington Accord lays emphasis on teaching social sciences along with engineering.

The representative organization in each economy creates a "register" of those engineers wishing to be recognised as meeting the generic international standard. Other economies should give credit when such an engineer seeks to have his or her competence recognised. The Agreement is largely administered between engineering bodies, but there can be Government representation and substantive changes need to be signed off at governmental APEC Agreement level. Washington Accord will, however, not be valid for IT engineers. India will have to sign the Seoul Accord to create similar equivalence of programmes. Becoming part of Washington Accord also does not necessarily mean that all engineering degrees by all Indian colleges will get equivalence with those of other member countries.

NBA has shortlisted 220-odd engineering colleges as Tier-I institutes whose undergraduate engineering programme is in tune with what is required under the Accord. But even Tier-I institutes which include IITs/NITs/BITS Pilani besides many autonomous and deemed universities will now have to apply afresh to NBA and only after extensive verification of their programmes will they be declared fit to be part of Washington Accord institutions.

A massive redesigning of course will take place with emphasis on outcomes and letting students explore and innovate. The admission to the Washington Accord of the accreditation organisations in Hong Kong China and South Africa in the late 1990s and Japan, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Korea and Malaysia took the number of signatories to 11 by 2009. Since that year, the accrediting organisations in Turkey and Russia have become signatories. Currently there are also five organisations with provisional status. Many of the new and provisional signatories were mentored by established ones as they developed their systems.

Engineers should have knowledge of the environment so that they know how their work is going to have an impact on the ecosystem. They also need understanding of society, management and communication skills. Agreements covering tertiary qualifications in engineering. There are three agreements covering mutual recognition in respect of tertiary-level qualifications in engineering: The Washington Accord signed in 1989 was the first – it recognises substantial equivalence in the accreditation of qualifications in professional engineering, normally of four years duration.

The Sydney Accord commenced in 2001 and recognises substantial equivalence in the accreditation of qualifications in engineering technology, normally of three years duration. The Dublin Accord is an agreement for substantial equivalence in the accreditation of tertiary qualifications in technician engineering, normally of two years duration. The signatories committed to continue to share relevant information; allow their representatives to participate in each other’s accreditation processes and attend relevant meetings of their organisations; and to make reference to this agreement in publications listing accredited programmes. Agreements covering competence standards for practising engineers The other three agreements cover recognition of equivalence at the practising engineer level i.e. it is individual people, not qualifications that are seen to meet the benchmark standard. The concept of these agreements is that a person recognised in one country as reaching the agreed international standard of competence should only be minimally assessed (primarily for local knowledge) prior to obtaining registration in another country that is party to the agreement.

The Sydney and Dublin Accords for engineering technologists and engineering technicians were initiated in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Together with the three agreements for engineering practitioners, the IEA was formed in 2007, and the IEA Secretariat was created to assist with the administration of the accords and agreements and their development. The following organisations hold provisional status; Bangladesh Board of Accreditation for Engineering and Technical Education; China China Association for Science and Technology; Pakistan Pakistan Engineering Council; Philippines Philippine Technological Council and Sri Lanka Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka

The International Professional Engineers agreement commenced in 2001. It operates the same competence standard as the APEC Engineer agreement but any country/economy may join. The parties to the agreement are largely engineering bodies. There are intentions to draw IPEA and APEC closer together. Whilst accord recognition strictly applies only to education programmes offered within a signatory’s territorial boundaries, the need to accommodate developments in crossborder education has required development of rules for out-of-territory accreditation and recognition. The rules agreed to in 2008 also allow for assistance to emerging economies that may be too small to operate their own accreditation system. The rules are currently under review.

The International Engineering Technologist agreement was signed by participating economies/countries in 2003. The parties to the Agreement have agreed to commence establishing a mutual recognition scheme for engineering technologists. In 1989 the six foundation signatory organisations from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States observed that their individual processes, policies, criteria and requirements for granting accreditation to university level programmes were substantially equivalent. They agreed to grant (or recommend to registering bodies, if different) the same rights and privileges to graduates of programmes accredited by other signatories as they grant to their own accredited programmes.

The adoption of graduate outcome specifications in tertiary education was paralleled by the development of the specification of consensus graduate attributes for the accords. Version 3 was adopted by the accords in 2013 as the exemplar of the educational requirements to be met by signatories. The signatory for each jurisdiction is the recognised organisation for accreditation of professional engineering qualifications. They are listed by jurisdiction, in order of admission to the Accord, with the current operating name of the accrediting organisation.

1989 Australia Engineers Australia
Canada Engineers Canada
Ireland Engineers Ireland
New Zealand Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand
United Kingdom Engineering Council United Kingdom
United States Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
1995 Hong Kong China The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers
1999 South Africa Engineering Council of South Africa
2005 Japan Japan Accreditation Board for Engineering Education
2006 Singapore Institution of Engineers Singapore
2007 Korea Accreditation Board for Engineering Education of Korea
Chinese Taipei Institute of Engineering Education Taiwan
2009 Malaysia Board of Engineers Malaysia
2011 Turkey MUDEK (Association for Evaluation and Accreditation of Engineering Programs)
2012 Russia Association for Engineering Education of Russia

The Accord recognises that the members of the European Network for Accreditation of Engineering Education (ENAEE) operate similar accreditation processes to similar standards within Europe, and its authorised members provide the Eur-ACE label to accredited programmes. Four of the Accord members are also authorised members of ENAEE. There is a formal mechanism between the IEA and ENAEE to maximise mutual understanding and potential benefits of the two organisations.

The current signatories to the Washington Accord that together deliver over 7,000 programmes. The Accord requires a body that wishes to become a signatory to first apply for provisional status. The body must demonstrate it has an accreditation system that meets basic requirements. To proceed to signatory status the body must demonstrate substantial equivalence of its standards and processes in a review by a team drawn from the signatories, and be approved by unanimous agreement of the signatories.

Strategic Energy Ties of India and Saudi Arabia

India’s fast growing economy has placed New Delhi among the top oil and gas consuming countries in the world. At present, India imports approximately 195 million tonnes of crude annually, and the Kingdom is the top supplier to New Delhi, meeting around a quarter of the total oil India imports. However, looking at the future prospects of India’s economic growth, leading to significant rise in oil and gas demand on the one hand and Saudi Arabia’s eagerness to hedge the large Indian energy market on the other. New Delhi also invited Saudi Arabia to participate in crude storage facilities and both the countries “directed the Joint Working Group on Energy to continue adopting all appropriate means to achieve the same.

The emergence of Saudi Arabia in the world as the largest energy producer and supplier on the one hand and India being one of the largest crude consumers on the other brought the two countries to deepen ties. In 2006 India and KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) signed “strategic energy partnership” agreement. In the historic Delhi Declaration, Saudi Arabia assured India to honour its energy requirements. This agreement is crucial in the sense that petroleum and oil lubrication (POL) accounts the largest share, approximately 40 per cent, of India’s total import. In 2012, New Delhi spent more than $60 billion on oil import. The Delhi Declaration acknowledged the “importance of strengthening the strategic energy partnership based on complementarity and interdependence, including meeting India’s increasing requirement of crude oil supplies, and identifying and implementing specific projects for cooperation including in the areas of new and renewable energy.

Fast growing India, particularly in the field of economy, science & technology, education, human capital resources, defence and security and counter-terrorism attracted the attention of King Abdullah and in 2006 he paid a visit to India after a gap of half a century. He described India as his “second” home and expressed satisfaction that the “Indian Muslims are in secured hands”. At the end of four-day visit, the two countries signed the historic Delhi Declaration and touched upon a range of issues both contemporary and futuristic pertianing to their mutual interests. In this document, Riyadh frankly addressed New Delhi’s concerns such as energy security, terrorism, while India also endorsed the needs of Saudi Arabia such as capacity building, diversification, cooperation in science and technology, education, manpower development, training to the medical personnel and peaceful uses of outer space, etc. Showing respect to the visit of King Abdullah, the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, also paid an official visit Riyadh in 2010. There too, the two leaders signed Riyadh Declaration and agreed upon to complete the agenda to Delhi Declaration signed in 2006. The idea of signing strategic partnership” matured in the Riyadh Declaration. Looking at the eagerness, the Saudi watchers went to the extent of saying that Riyadh and New Delhi are exploring to establish a natural partnership and bury their past differences.

In December 1955, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud was the first Saudi King to visit independent India. He stayed in India for 16 days. During this stay the King visited several major cities of India like Banaras, Lucknow, Hyderabad, and New Delhi, etc. Even before independence King King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud had special regards for India. During the Great Bengal Famine in 1942, he made a personal donation of 10,000 pound sterling to the Bengal Relief Fund. In 1956, the Indian Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, paid a counter visit to Riyadh, where he addressed a large crowd gathered in a stadium. The cheering crowds called him Rasool-al-Salam (Messenger of Peace) for his active role in promoting peace and stability in the developing third world countries. After a gap of 27 years, in 1982 the Indian Prime Minister Ms. Indira Gandhi visited Riyadh, which further boosted the bilateral relation of the two countries. The outcomes of the three high level visits that took place over period of three decades were positive and deep. Despite the estrangements of the Cold War; India’s silence over the Russian occupations of Afghanistan; and Pakistan’s provocations to snap ties with India, Riyadh and New Delhi continued with their relations.

After India’s independence, both the countries realised the importance of each other and established formal relations in 1947. In 1948, India opened its first diplomatic Consulate in Jeddah, which was converted into Consulate General; in 1957 India opened full-fledged Embassy in Saudi Arabia and in 1985 it was shifted to Riyadh. Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh addressed at the Majlis Al Shura, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Another dimension in the bilateral relationship of the two countries was added when Saudi Arabia along with other hydrocarbons rich Gulf countries witnessed the first oil boom (1973-74) and received massive oil revenue. This provoked the Saudi rulers to embark upon massive construction project. However, at that time the kingdom was neither having enough labour force nor expertise to carry forward the desired construction projects. Consequently, once again a synergy on labour issues between India and Saudi Arabia emerged and India emerged as one the largest labour sending countries to the Kingdom.

At present more than 3 million Indians are working in KSA and remitting approximately 6 to 8 billion dollar annually. Indeed, energy, economy and migration were the key components that sustained the ups and downs of the bilateral relations of Riyadh and New Delhi; and after the end of the Cold War, these components played key role in catalysing and forging a special tie between the two capitals. At the end of Cold War, both, New Delhi and Riyadh adopted new economic policies to adjust with the globalising world. Riyadh emphasised on the look east policy and aimed at targeting the emerging big and population economies of the East and India held a paramount position.

Interestingly, Saudi Arabia’s oilfields are located in the east of the country, where the Shi’a citizens are in the majority. As Saudi Arabia sees it, Iran has been under international sanctions for some time now, leaving its economy in a state of disrepair. Its oil infrastructure is collapsing and Tehran is becoming increasingly dependent upon the few countries permitted to purchase its oil. If Riyadh could, therefore, reduce the number of countries buying Iranian oil, it would effectively further undermine Iran’s economy. India is one of those countries permitted to buy oil from Iran, albeit in reduced quantities; hence Riyadh’s attempts to sell more oil to India and, concurrently, enhance its ties with New Delhi. Essentially then, Riyadh is trying to shore up its diminishing energy market, but simultaneously seeks to counter Iran’s regional influence. It is merely repeating what it did during the oil crisis of the early 1970s: using oil as a strategic weapon to achieve its goals.

India’s relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are significant from two main angles: First, bilateral; and second, regional and global role of Riyadh and its wider implications. At bilateral level, India and Saudi Arabia enjoy a wide array of engagements, including energy, trade, migration, defence and security, culture and religious interactions. Besides bilateral, Riyadh and New Delhi now also share regional and global concerns. The relations between the two countries span millennia. Both the countries were engaged in active maritime trade; because of the knowledge of monsoon the Arab traders were mediating between the Indian and the European traders; they had monopolised the spice trade, supplying peppers, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, etc from India to the outside market; their early settlements in India were at the Malabar Coast, which still exist with many vestiges of Arab culture. During the medieval period, the relations between the two countries were very close and intimate; the contemporary Indian rulers supported the Sheriff of Mecca in many ways, besides assisting large number of Indians to perform annual Haj and Urma and added considerable income to the people of Hejaz.

The region was peaceful under the US security umbrella. But now it is one of the most volatile and unstable in the world, whereas India’s stakes in the region has grown over the period. India needs to be a partner in the region. For this, its relations with Saudi Arabia accounts great significance. New Delhi should increase its engagement with Riyadh, particularly in stabilising the region. India needs an active Gulf policy and Riyadh can play a key role; Riyadh and New Delhi should focus on promoting cultural diplomacy and bring the people of the two countries closer; MoU’s between ICWA and major Saudi Think tank should be signed and research work should be streamlined between the two countries.

India can cooperate with Saudi Arabia in its diversification programme. New Delhi can assist Riyadh to develop its knowledge-based economy, which is one of the priority focuses of King Abdullah. Manpower agreement with Saudi Arabia should be signed. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the GCC, which has not signed any manpower agreement with India. However, in the meantime labour issues such as their security, particularly during the emergency period; concept of minimum wage or living wage and protection against the pitfalls of Kafala system should be discussed; Saudi Arabia’s help in speeding up the signing of Free trade Agreement (FTA) between India and GCC should be sought; Possibility of getting observer status in GCC should also be discussed with Saudi Arabia and what role Riyadh can play in getting that position; New Delhi should also realise that the situation in the region has changed.

Saudi Arabia has long held a position of eminence as the guarantor of oil supplies to the world, due to its enormous proven reserves. Thus, for instance, when international oil supplies were reduced during the war against Iraq, Saudi Arabia had no problems in increasing production and limiting negative international impact. This position, however, has been eroded in more recent times. The US has made rapid advances in recovering oil and gas from shale deposits on the US mainland, previously seen as commercially unviable. Consequently, it has overtaken Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of oil. Simultaneously, Russia has faced an increasingly antagonistic European gas market, so it has engineered the sale of US$400 billion worth of gas to China over the next thirty years. While not overly disturbing to Saudi Arabia, it is the potential sale of Russian oil to China on an equal scale that has Riyadh worried. Saudi Arabia’s economy depends entirely on its energy sales. With reduced markets, Riyadh will have reduced means and influence to maintain its economy, which could have major ramifications for the continued rule of the House of Saud. Saudi Arabia undoubtedly sees India’s growing economic strength as a means of shoring up its flagging oil sales.

India requires large quantities of oil and gas. It needs to re-start and then maintain its economic growth, and must also comply with growing international demands to use cleaner fuels. Cleaner oil and gas will help India move towards those goals. It is more than likely, however, that Saudi Arabia wishes to expand its relationship with India to diminish Indo-Iranian ties. Riyadh and Tehran share a mutual distrust, brought about by competition between the two based on both the Sunni-Shia divide and differences in political ideology: Iran is a nominal democracy, while Saudi Arabia remains a monarchy. The House of Saud sees the latter reason as an existential threat; by extension, Iran becomes a threat and, therefore, an enemy to be countered. For Iran, Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia is seen as guilty of suppressing its Shi’a minority, effectively making them second-class citizens.

The wide arrays that exist between India and Saudi Arabia some of the following areas need attention of New Delhi and Riyadh to be addressed by both the countries on priority basis. There are: Core issues such as security, including maritime, defence, terrorism and the menace posed by the non-state actors should be openly and regularly discussed and solution-oriented works should be promoted and published by both the sides; Annual dialogue between academia, knowledge community and experts should be regularly organised; regular exchange of scholars, experts and researchers between the two counties should also be promoted. This will help in expanding and exploring new areas of mutual interest in both the countries. Bilateral trade should be balanced. Presently, trade is heavily in favour of Saudi Arabia.

Energy is the prime cause of creating imbalances. Therefore, energy trade should be compensated by promoting non-energy trade between Riyadh and New Delhi. Since both are the members of WTO, they can promote non-energy trade under the MFN status. Project for oil should also be considered. Investment can also be used to balance the trade; Finance is another unexplored area where both the countries can promote cooperation and tap the surplus capital for productive purposes. Saudi Arabia, sitting on a huge pile of cash, can invest in Indian market, particularly in mutual fund, which promises 20 per cent profit return. Investments in mutual funds are Shaira compliance. So there would no moral and religious objections for the Saudis. Islamic finance and Islamic banking can also be promoted. Interest-free fund can be utilised by the Indian government in targeting priority areas like poverty reduction, while return to these fund can be ensured from real estate.

Sources:

1. Lindsay Hughes: http://www.futuredirections.org.au

2. http://www.futuredirections.org.au/publications/indian-ocean