1. Saudi Arab-Qatar diplomatic crisis unfolded in June 2017 and took many countries by surprise with it’s far reaching consequences.
  2. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday termed it an intra-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) affair and said New Delhi is not impacted by it.
  3. But in reality India can’t be immune to such crucial development in a region which is major supplier of India’s energy needs and home to millions of Indian diaspora.
  4. Qatar’s importance for India can seen in many ways.
  5. Indians are the largest expatriate community in Qatar, India has robust defence and energy ties with Qatar. Further India is the third largest export destination for Qatar (behind Japan and South Korea) and ranks at 10th position for Qatar’s imports.
  6. India maintains good ties with both Saudi and Qatar and therefore India has to be very cautious before any hard stand is taken. It is because in the long run Qatar has to stay with other gulf countries and imbalanced and hasty decision  may cost India heavy. Qatar itself depends on Saudi Arab for many of it’s needs like imported food, maritime security etc.
  7. If India continues with Qatar, despite Saudi’s reservations, India in the long run would lose both Qatar and Saudi support.
  8. Post crisis, passengers flying on Indian carriers to Qatar will face increased travel hours as airlines have been forced to take longer routes over Pakistan and Iran, amid airspace curbs in the Gulf region.
  9. Jet Airways, Air India Express and IndiGo are now operating flights to Qatar’s capital Doha through Pakistan and Iran airspace following restrictions imposed by the UAE.
  10. Apart from longer flying hours, the airlines would see a spike in costs for operating these flights due to higher fuel burn and the need for having additional human resources.
  11. India has time-tested friendly relations with GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. With over eight million Indian expatriates living and working in these countries, it has vital stakes in the regional peace and stability.
  12. As of now, impacts of short term nature are seen but if the stalemate continues this may take bigger shape and pose bigger challenges to India including loss of jobs in Qatar for Indians, decline in remittances for India, decreased trade and foreign exchange including investments as Qatar has been one of the major investor in Indian infrastructure.