Prospect of India-Iran Relations: Bilateral Ties and Regional Security

Islamic Revolution of Iran 1979 has been a watershed event of the 20th century. The foreign policy of Iran underwent a sea change so was the foreign policy of dozens of nations towards the Islamic Republic of Iran. India too couldn’t remain unaffected by this earth shattering event. In fact before revolution, Iran was a signatory of the notorious Baghdad Pact which was designed to isolate India and create a pressure so that India might stay away from aligning with the Soviet Union. Hence, when the revolution took place, India didn’t lose the opportunity to come close to Iran. I remember a high level delegation from India was sent under the leadership of the then Foreign Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpatee to meet the leader of the Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhullah Al Moosvi Khomeini.

Several important policy decisions were taken at that time including the decision of India to have a sympathetic attitude towards Iran during the US imposed war from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. During the eight years imposed war India supported Iran several times in the UN and tried its best to bring a ceasefire. The present Rahbar e Azam Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei came to attend the NAM summit held in New Delhi in 1983. The Indian government gave full freedom to the Iran Culture House in New Delhi to play a vibrant role in reviving old Indo-Iranian ties. In the academic and intellectual circle Iran Culture House has been a hub of intellectual activities since then. We have participated in innumerable seminars and symposium being organized by the Iran Culture House dealing with the themes of Indian History and Indo-Iran age old ties.

As regards mutual relation, there is unmistakable sign of the cementing of mutual relation between these two highly civilized nations of Asia. It goes without saying that with the fast changing scenario in Afghanistan, Iran has become important for India more than ever before as India can’t afford two hostile countries on its north western side. India and Iran have been a victim of sponsored terrorism from outside hence apart from getting the cheap and best petroleum products these two nations might play a crucial role in ridding Asia off terrorist activities being sponsored by Western imperialist nation with the help of non-state actors.

These two countries should come close to each other as fast as they can. India can help Iran in many ways and vice versa. The bilateral meetings between these two countries should be held more frequently at all levels to promote trade and commerce. Indian Universities which have been helping students from the third world countries to get quality education might play a significant role in terms of the exchange of scientific and technological ideas with Iran. There is no need to emphasize the point again and again that Iran could become the biggest supplier of petroleum products to India whose prices have skyrocketed and has almost broken the back of Indian middle class.

We have to learn several lessons from our past mistakes so the Indo Iranian bilateral relations must never hit roadblocks in future. Although, right from Syed Ali Khamenei, Hashmi Rafsanjani, Syed Mohammad Khatami to Hassan Rouhani, all the head of the states of Iran have visited New Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad and Bangalore on several occasions, yet the result these visits should have produced left much to be desired. Our PMs, Narasimha Rao, Inder Kumar Gujral, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi too have paid a return visit.

We hope that in future these visits at the highest level must go on as India has a sizeable population of Shiias which happens to be the dominant faith of Iranians also. Thousands of Shiias from India stay in the religious centers of Qum Esfahan and Mashhad in order to complete there religious education. They could turn out to be ambassadors of mutual relation between these two ancient nations. The writer has witnessed how the streets of Qum are full of Indian students busy in sipping Iranian tea in the evening. We hope in the coming years we are further going to develop strong bonding and play a role in the peacemaking process all over the world.

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