India | Egypt’s President El-Sisi in New Delhi for Republic Day – VIDEO
Defence Redefined
Published on 27/01/2023 at 19:32

India celebrated Republic Day on Thursday, marking the day back in 1950 when its constitution came into force.

The celebration includes the custom of a large military parade, led by a foreign Head of State. This year, India conferred the honor on Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the first leader since 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, who participated in India’s Republic Day military parade for the first time with a detachment of the Egyptian Army.

India tends to choose foreign leaders who are seen as important to its foreign policy interests. The choice of Sisi reflects the strengthening of India – Egypt ties and also indicates India’s turn towards the Middle East, which New Delhi considers economically and strategically important.

India and Egypt share some similarities. Both were leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War and later developed into regional powers. Their relationship ended as Egypt moved closer to the United States and India to the Soviet Union.

Yet their relations have grown stronger in recent decades with high-level dialogue, military exercises, and increased trade between the two nations. India is currently Egypt’s third largest export market, while Cairo is interested in buying Indian fighter jets.

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As Sisi began his visit on Wednesday, New Delhi and Cairo announced they would upgrade their relationship to a strategic partnership. One of India’s current foreign policy goals is to use its bilateral relations to also pursue cooperation with other countries, and its relationship with Egypt should be seen in the context of its growing ties to the wider region.

The Middle East is a critical source of India’s energy imports and infrastructure aid and a key supplier of water-saving agricultural technologies. The Gulf region is home to more than 8 million Indian workers, many of whom send back remittances. And unlike many Western partners, Middle Eastern leaders do not criticize New Delhi for its domestic policies. With occasional exception, Middle Eastern countries have avoided even reporting India’s growing anti-Muslim violence against its minority.

The Middle East provides opportunities for India to demonstrate its diplomatic impact on and commitment to multilateralism in regions beyond Asia, particularly as it seeks to use its G-20 presidency to serve as a bridge between rich economies and developing countries.

So it’s no surprise that India chose Sisi as the chief guest for this year’s Republic Day. Perhaps what is striking is that during the 69 years, New Delhi has conferred the honor, it is only the fourth time it has been awarded to a Middle Eastern leader.

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