India has the largest number of Baha’is in the world today, followers of the world’s newest religion, which was founded in 19th-century Persia. Persecuted in their own country, they came to Bombay, which was already home to many Iranians, to purvey the message of their faith
Bombay’s trade with the Persian Empire grew rapidly in the 19th century because of regular steamship services between the city and prominent Iranian ports such as Bushire. The wealthy and public-spirited Persian merchants, who settled in Bombay, endowed their community with a religious and social infrastructure, in use even today
India finds itself in the long queue of global economic powerhouses that wish to avail the new opening between Iran and the international community. But India’s proximity and mutual interests of the two countries indicates that the time is ripe for a fundamentally new beginning in Tehran-Delhi relations.
The strategic and geopolitical importance of Iran’s Chabahar Port is not lost on India. It is for this reason that India is keen to partner with Iran on investing in developing berths at the Port. Although the relationship between the two have had its ups and downs, it is time that with a nuclear deal in place between Iran and the P5+1, India realises that it has much more at stake in its relationship with Tehran.
The landmark deal between Iran and the P5+1 countries will gradually phase out all international sanctions on Iran and pave the way for Iran's re-entry into the global economy. How will this affect the chaos in the middle-east and what are the opportunities for India?
The Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Ali Larijani, will soon visit India. Given that he enjoys Iran's Supreme Leader's confidence, and is Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s rival, he’s likely to be visiting India not just as a Speaker, but also as a key strategist of the Islamic Republic, and a messenger of Khamenei.
Apart from bilateral ties, also at play at the India-U.S. Strategic dialogue is the difficult triangulation in India’s relations with the U.S. and Iran. It does not serve India to get enmeshed in the U.S-Iran confrontation. Instead, the relationship must develop on the basis of realpolitik and mutual interest.
Given the immediacy of rising tensions around Iran’s nuclear programme, what can India and the U.S. do to resolve the issue? Gateway House’s Manjeet Kripalani talks to Ambassador Frank Wisner about the possibilities of a strike against Iran and its effects on the India-U.S. relationship.