The history of civilisations throughout the world has been a testament of wars and infighting to conquer other cultures and re-invoke the spirit of national supremacy. However, in the midst of the upheaval undergone to reign in more territories and expand the boundaries of the kingdom, a lot of cultural commingling also ensued. India’s knowledge of Greeks was largely known only after the conquest of Alexander the Great, though long before his arrival, in Gandhara, India’s north western border, Sanskrit grammarians such as Panini and Katyayana were familiar with the term yavanas and the Greek script yavanaani. The term also finds a mention in the ancient Indian epic of Mahabharata.
Following Alexander’s expansion spree, the advent of Hellenism or the spread of Greek language and culture proliferated and the Indo-Greek kingdom was established between 180 BC to 10CE, when King Demetrius invaded India, followed by the establishment of a number of dynasties, stretching from the capital of Taxila in Pakistan to Pushkalavati and Sagala, after seceding from what is now modern day northern Afghanistan. During this time, the Greeks and Hindus moulded and merged their culture in the form of Buddhist and Hindu religious practices, while also stamping their mark on blended coins, symbols and languages.
During the formation of the Mauryan empire, in 310 BC, Chandragupta Maurya, received considerable help from Seleucus, in toppling the Nanda empire. According the famed “intermarriage agreement” between the leaders, Chandragupta received 500 elephants, his daughter and ceded the territories of Kabul, Makran and Herat.
The ambassador to Seleucus, Megasthenes also met Chandragupta and in his magnum opus Indica, commented upon the geographical features of India such as the Himalayas and the religion of the people such as the devotees of Shiva and Krishna. Bearing a remarkable testament to the cultural vibrancy of India, most of the coins of Greek kings in India depicted the Greek language in front and the Pali language on the backside. Local technicians were used in the process of minting the Kharosthi letters, an ancient “alphasyllabary” used by the Gandhara culture.
More recently, after the independence of India, diplomatic relations were established between India and Greece when Greece opened its embassy in India in 1950 and India in Athens in 1978. The Greek Defense Minister visited India in 1998 and signed a MOU on Defense Cooperation while Greece has also declared its support for the abrogation of Article 370 and reorganization of territories in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, commenting that these are India’s internal matters.
While both countries have vociferously declared their support for non-permanent seats at the UNSC, Greece has also supported India’s candidature at ICJ, IMO and other international bodies while also standing with India at the Nuclear Supplier Group in 2008 and 2016. In his meeting with the Indian President, the then Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulo said that Greece recognises India as a “world power” and sees in India a good economic and commercial partner.
Bilateral defense cooperation was discussed during the visit of the late President Abdul Kalam, when he visited the Hellenic Aerospace Industries in Greece in 2007. At the Greece ‘Iniochos’ Air Force exercise of Greece in 2021, India was the only non-participating country to which an invitation was extended apart from the participating countries of France, UAE, Spain, Israel, USA and Canada.
Similarly, Indian-Armenian ties have existed since thousands of centuries (Indian settlements in Armenia existed as far back as 150 BC). Precious textiles, stones and herbs were exported from India and dyes and hides were imported from Armenia, particularly to and from the Armenian towns of Dvin, Metsbin and Artashat.
Armenians were highly respected by the Mughal emperor Akbar and a high degree of religious freedom and considerable privileges were granted to them to serve according to their capacity in the kingdom. Mariam Zamani Begum was one of Akbar’s queens and was of Armenian descent. The first ever Armenian journal published in the world was called “Azdarar” and was published in Chennai in 1794.
Three months after its declaration of Independence from the USSR, India recognised Armenia on 26 December 1991. The Indian embassy was opened in Yerevan in March 1999 while Armenia established its embassy in New Delhi in October 1999. Ongoing cooperation in fields such as healthcare, aviation, agriculture, investment and science and technology were discussed during the Fifth Session of India-Armenia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific & Technological, Cultural and Educational Cooperation (IGC) in Yerevan in October 2011.
Through the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme, India provides development assistance to Armenia in the form of capacity building and human resource development as well.
More recently, however, some analysts have argued that the threat to India, Greece and Armenia is coming from the alliance of Pakistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Its notable here that Turkey and Azerbaijan have always backed Pakistan over the Kashmir issue while in return, Pakistan has supported Azerbaijan in its war with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. This particular geopolitical gambit calls for a strategic alliance that includes trade and defense agreements. Armenia can play a crucial role in India backed International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and in trade of defense equipment's from India.
The mutual trade on defense have already fructified to a certain extent when a 40 million dollar arms deal was signed by Yerevan with India in 2020 for the purchase of four SWATHI radars, followed by the June 2022 Armenian defense delegation visit to India.
After the high profile visit, India has started exporting the Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL), anti-tank missiles and a DIGICORA MET Radar.
Given that the threat and commonality of their ideology to promote an unholy Ottoman inspired Caliphate design around the world, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan’s (TAP trio) declaration to boost cooperation spells out danger for the ancient civilisations of Greece, India and Armenia.
In light of the TAP trio’s burgeoning strides to strengthen ties; India, Greece and Armenia should form a common forum by institutionalizing networking between each other on three levels: Public Diplomacy, Government and Diaspora connection.
The “Coalition of Civilisations” should seek to strengthen the ancient ties between the countries while also trying to alleviate the threat from countries that propel to drive the world towards intolerance and violence, which has led to ethnic cleansing of millions of Christians in Turkey occupied part of Cyprus and the displacement of countless more from 1974.
Dr. Abhishek Ranjan is the Founder and Director of Red Lantern Analytica. Dr. Ranjan has worked as a manager at NITI Ayog’s Atal Innovation Mission and worked with startups to help them in incubation at JNU, New Delhi. He worked with Members of Parliament as a Researcher and was part of the coveted LAMP Fellowship 2015-16. He completed his engineering from MIT Manipal and his Post graduate Diploma in Management from IMT Ghaziabad. He is a published author and has co-authored a book ‘Show or Substance’, on political and development history of Bihar in the past three decades.