On this historic occasion of India's 75th Republic Day, my heart swells with pride and nostalgia as an expatriate Indian living in the UAE. January 26 is not merely a date on the calendar; it is a sacred ode to our heritage, a symphony echoing the indomitable spirit that birthed our nation. As I reflect on India's rich tradition, the echoes of our struggle for independence resonate in every corner of my soul. The sacrifices of countless heroes, the resolute defiance against colonial oppression – these are the threads woven into the very fabric of our existence.
From the shackles of colonialism emerged a sovereign republic on January 26, 1950, heralding an era of self-determination. India's journey from a struggling, newly independent nation to a global powerhouse is awe-inspiring. The economic prowess, political stability, and cultural vibrancy of India stand testament to the collective aspirations of a billion hearts beating in unison.
At the same time, with a vision to emerge as a prominent knowledge economy in dynamic global industrial sectors, the UAE has strategically invested in research and development. This strategic focus is directed towards nurturing knowledge-based industries like biotechnology and renewable energy. The trajectory of the knowledge economy's future is anticipated to be influenced by various factors, encompassing ongoing technological advancements, the escalating significance of data and digital technologies, and the rising demand for highly skilled professionals.
In an era marked by increasing interconnectivity and digitalisation, the significance of the knowledge economy is poised to intensify. Knowledge-based industries and activities are expected to assume a more substantial role in the global economic landscape. Remarkably, the UAE's non-oil sector constitutes over 70 per cent of its GDP, demonstrating the efficacy of its diversification efforts. The nation experienced a 3.7 per cent GDP growth in the initial half of 2023, primarily propelled by the non-oil sector. Projections from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicate a 3.4 per cent real GDP growth in 2023 and a further four per cent in 2024. Leveraging its openness to international business and strategic geographical positioning, the UAE stands as an enticing market for foreign exporters, offering lucrative business opportunities.
India's dynamic diplomatic landscape has been enriched by strategic alliances that encompass not only personal camaraderie between leaders but also substantial trade connections, security cooperation, and harmonious relations – a bond that distinguishes itself among contemporary international associations. Amidst the vast expanse of history, the collaboration between India and the UAE unfolds a poignant narrative that transcends the epochs, weaving a rich mosaic that intertwines the ancient with the vibrancy of the modern era. The very soil of what we now call the UAE cradled the footprints of trade routes that intimately entwined the destinies of India and the Middle East, creating a mesmerising confluence of commerce and culture that traversed the dominions of both lands.
Those maritime routes were the ethereal threads binding the souls of two lands, as art, language, and traditions swirled in a harmonious blend, each note a testament to the enduring kinship that reverberated through the ages. Today, the UAE stands as more than a mere geographical entity; it is a sanctuary, a cherished haven of around 3.5 million Indian nationals who, like migratory birds guided by an ancestral call, have found refuge in its warm embrace. The India-UAE alliance, characterised by a substantive agenda and converging interests, has recently received a significant boost. During the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, DP World, a global logistics company, signed multiple MoUs worth INR 250 billion (approx. $3 billion) with the Government of Gujarat. These agreements, focusing on the development of new ports, terminals, and economic zones, underscore DP World's commitment to bolstering trade in this burgeoning Indian state.
The momentum gained by the India-UAE partnership is highlighted by the successful implementation of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on May 1, 2022. Aiming to navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, both nations expedited this agreement, setting a precedent for the UAE's foreign trade strategy. The tangible impact of CEPA is evident in the significant reduction or elimination of tariffs on over 80 percent of products, resulting in a remarkable $50 billion non-oil trade volume between May 2022 and April 2023. This achievement signals the potential realisation of the ambitious goal of reaching $100 billion in non-oil trade by 2030.
Embracing modern development paradigms such as sustainability, technological innovation, and embarking on the essentials of a knowledge economy, the UAE emerges as a resplendent beacon—not just a critical economic partner but a radiant chapter in the grand chronicle of the timeless relationship between India and the UAE. This sacred union breathes life into the very sinews of economic partnership, forging a symbiotic expression that transcends the mundane and ascends into the realms of shared destinies. Beyond show-offs and ceremonial visits, this alliance stands as a model of cooperation in an ever-changing global landscape, fostering economic development and strengthening the ties that bind these two nations.
Today, as we celebrate our 75th Republic Day, the tricolour unfolds proudly, symbolizing not just a flag but the quintessence of resilience, unity, and progress. As an expatriate, my spirit remains tethered to the motherland, and on this auspicious day, I join my fellow Indians in saluting the legacy of our forefathers and the trajectory that has made India a shining example on the world stage. Jai Hind!
— Nazeer Veliyil is Chief Executive Officer of BorgRollsWarner (UK) Limited.
Embark an extraordinary journey of faith and devotion with Usha Sarma as she seeks divine solace in the heart of UAE's bustling metropolis, guided by her unwavering belief in the transformative power of spirituality