A delegation from the Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (Derasat), Bahrain, headed by Dr Muhammad Abdul Ghaffar (Advisor to the HM, The King for Diplomatic Affairs) visited IDSA for an interaction with IDSA scholars on April 19, 2012. The interaction focussed on the current security situation in the Gulf and its impact on Indiaâ€™s relationship with the GCC member states, specifically Bahrain. Director General, IDSA, Dr Arvind Gupta presided over the session. Bahrain Delegation Discusses Current Security Situation in The Gulf With IDSA Scholars | Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses An overview of the discussion was given in gulfnews gulfnews : Call to revive legacy by boosting Gulf-India cooperation Manama: The collapse of the Cold War era international systems provides an opportunity to form a new system that focuses on economic cooperation and to revive the legacy of coexistence among peoples of the Indian Ocean, a Bahraini diplomat and scholar said. "The historical legacy of the Indian Ocean has since the dawn of history shaped a centre of civilization at a global level whose core are maritime and trade activities," Dr Mohammad Abdul Ghaffar, the King's advisor for diplomatic affairs and chairman of the board of trustees of the Bahrain Centre for Strategic, International and Energy Studies, said. "People in that era enjoyed a culture of cooperation and peace as opposed to military conflicts, domination and monopolies. Trade relations between the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean date back to around seven thousand years and the history of human civilization in the Gulf is directly linked to commerce and unhindered maritime transport throughout the South and South-West Asia regions. Trade and economic cooperation formed the foundation for several civilizations that flourished in Iraq and on the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula, including Bahrain and Oman," he said in his lecture at the Indian Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, the New Delhi-based think tank. For Abdul Ghaffar, a former state minister of foreign affairs and a former minister of information, the relationship between India and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Arabian Gulf region in general should be essentially observed from a geopolitical and strategic perspective. Ancient Indian civilization provided models for the Arabian Gulf communities and peoples of the Mediterranean and influenced social institutions, customs, traditions and beliefs, he said. "Since antiquity, the geographical location of the Arabian Gulf has given it a prominent status. It was one of the most important maritime routes for international trade. During that period, the Arabs of the Gulf were prominent navigators and geographers and the region enjoyed prosperous trade that extended to India, China and East Africa." The emergence of Islam and its spread throughout the East played a significant role in strengthening relations between diverse communities. "Islamic states established control of the medieval maritime traffic and trade across the Gulf and the Red Sea extending to the Mediterranean. Within 700 years of Islamic rule, Arab merchants dominated the movement of trade, particularly spices. The situation remained unchanged until the end of the 15th century, when Vasco de Gama crossed the Cape of Good Hope, paving the way for a new trade route for Europe to Asia via Africa, and eventually resulting in conflicts between Eastern countries and European companies who were supported by military power and warships." Although Eastern countries were weakened due to the European colonization, maritime trade and economic cooperation continued between the peoples of the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf who consolidated cultural relations despite political conflicts. "Today, the collapse of the security system that was based on competition between the Soviet Camp and the West during the Cold War, suggests we need to explore new forms of security cooperation and trade built on a firm foundation of coexistence and peace between the peoples of the region," he said. Abdul Ghaffar said that rapid global developments increased the need for the Indian Ocean countries to benefit from strategic edges yet to be exploited and that the current relations should be reassessed from a strategic perspective and rebuilt with a focus on trade, economy and sustainable development. Referring to the impact of maritime trade with India on Bahrain's economic development, Abdul Ghaffar said that it could be traced back to the early years of the rule of Al Khalifa. "During the reign of Bahrain's first ruler, Shaikh Ahmad Al Fateh (1783-1795), a report written by officials of the British East India Company in 1790, links the prosperity of the newly established state with active maritime trade with India," he said. The report states that establishing rule in Bahrain, "has encouraged the Utoob tribes to buy vessels potentially valid for tours from their country to India to be used in those trips. They then were directly able to trade and transfer pearls directly to Surat". According to the report, "Bahrain trade has grown remarkably since the Utoob took over the country in 1783. They bought ships and traveled from their homeland to India, and as a result, they were able to bring their annual imports and goods from India." Bahraini traders also imported various cargoes from the ports of Iraq and the Eastern Arabian Peninsula to be re-exported to India where many of them had substantial capital investments. Abdul Ghaffar said that Bahrain's movement towards reform and modernization in the early 20th century drew lessons from India's political experience. Referring to the modern relations between the GCC and India, Abdul Ghaffar said that the volume of trade was more than $118 billions in 2010-2011 and was expected to exceed $130 billions in 2013-2014. "India became the third state to hold talks with the GCC, alongside the US and Japan, on bilateral trade. Free trade agreement talks aimed at boosting economic and trade ties have been held between India and the GCC. This has led to an increase in GCC investments in India to $125 billion in the fields of infrastructure, manufacturing, real estate, oil and gas," he said. "Our civilizations have established a long history of cooperation in which the Indian Ocean has come to represent a lifeline in the global network of communications. Today, 50% of the movement of shipping containers, and 70 % of the global trade of petroleum substances passes through the Indian Ocean. The Arabian Gulf region produces more than 30 % of the world's oil needs, and 14 % of world gas production. Recent studies in the field of energy expect global oil demand to increase by 50 % by 2030. The region still contains about 55% of the world oil reserves and 40% of natural gas." According to Abdul Ghaffar, the presence of more than five million Indian workers in the GCC countries should emphasize that the Indian Ocean is pivotal in building civilizations and enhancing interactions between the various peoples of the East. "We must, therefore, stress the need to develop economic alliances that distance themselves from hegemonic ambitions and military rivalries that characterized the era of western dominance," he said.