India’s cooperation with the Islamic countries has seen remarkable progress in the last decade. There have been occasions in India when the question of joining the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was raised in some forums. However, in the end the same consensus repeatedly evolved that the Indian Constitution and foreign policy were premised on the principle of secularism, hence joining any organisation based on religion would be inconsistent.
As the fastest growing country of the world and Asia, India has consistently made efforts to enhance economic ties and development cooperation with Islamic countries. It recently signed Comprehensive Economic Partnership with the UAE and is considering to do the same with other Gulf countries. It already has vibrant economic ties with Malaysia and Indonesia.
India, unlike many other powers, has always maintained neutrality in case of disputes among the Islamic countries or within domestic political groups or with other countries. It has focussed on enhancing relations with Islamic countries in trade, investments and supply of skilled and semi-skilled human resources without religious and sectarian consideration.
This is primarily because of mutual benefits and long cultural relations.
India has a long and shining history of Islam with the second highest Muslim population anywhere in the world participating in modernisation and development through a democratic process based on the principle of equality before law.
India’s expectations with the OIC countries are simple and straight– collaboration and cooperation for mutual development and non-interference in the internal affairs. Recent reports about invitation to Kashmiri separatist All Party Hurriyat Conference in the OIC meet in Islamabad are not consistent with the principle of non-interference and respecting sovereignty of each other.
India’s concern was that how one country could dictate a big organisation like OIC to take any stand on its internal matters.
There have been huge political upheavals and sectarian violence in the OIC countries and some of these still continue. However, India has never interfered in the domestic matters of any OIC country. One step ahead, India has always decried any kind of violence against people anywhere in the world as it did in case of the Palestinian issue and is now doing in case of Ukraine war.
India firmly believes that any dispute between two or more countries should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation. No wonder in a democratic country like India, there may be a plethora of political stirs and churning, but these are India’s internal issues and signs of a vibrant democracy.
India has always condemned terrorism in whatsoever form and urged the nations of the world to cooperate to combat it. India does not expect the OIC to encourage actors and organisations engaged in terrorism and anti-India activities.
It is against the principle of non-interference to give the platform of the OIC to any separatist leader or organisation which aims at disturbing the unity and integrity of India.
India has put in huge resources and democratic machinery since long in its beautiful province Kashmir to make it the global tourist hub and to set up other environment friendly industrial activities.
The OIC needs to appreciate that every country has its own share of people’s discontent and love and India has been successfully addressing all its internal problems including Kashmir.
Pak governments have been frequently thrown by its people for failure to govern, but the people of India, including
Kashmir, have democratically elected stable governments in succession.
No stray event is sufficient enough to judge the essence and performance of Indian democracy, which has become a model of thriving democracy in the world.
India is a secular country and the second largest Muslim country of the world where Islam and Sufism stand equal before the law of the land and constitution as other beliefs.
The system has returned national heroes from the Muslim community, including from Kashmir and the journey continues.
India needs no sermons in the name of Islam.
Petros Aramidis is a geopolitical analyst based in Athens.