Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an announcement on Saturday (September 9) that work will be started to establish a mega corridor from India through Europe to West Asia. Through this corridor, a wide communication system is going to be established between the Eurasian region by rail and by sea. Apart from the commercial benefits between the countries included in this corridor, analysts believe that there will be unprecedented success in the field of transportation of energy products such as green hydrogen and digital connectivity related to information technology.
Indian policy makers believe this corridor will change the world as an alternative to China. Prime Minister Modi announced this at the G20 summit on Saturday.
China’s century-old Belt and Road effort has long fueled concerns about the country’s connectivity projects in the region. India was also frustrated by Pakistan’s refusal to allow land use, establishing a credible link to the Eurasian landmass through Iran. This time, Arabs and Europe finally found a simple formula for such a connection.
Originally, the idea of a ship and rail link between India and the Arabian Peninsula came up after India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met US National Security Advisor Jack Sullivan in May this year. Since then the matter has progressed rapidly. With almost all the front-line leaders in New Delhi for the G20 summit—including the European Union, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States—the project offers an opportunity to begin a formal framework to follow through.
The proposed project would lead to the construction of a railway line across the Arabian Peninsula through the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. At the same time, the issue of ship connectivity with India and Europe on both sides of the corridor is also involved.
On the other hand, experts also believe that the corridor can be further developed to transport power through pipelines and data through optical fiber links.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh and Israel’s Tel Aviv have taken initiatives to normalize relations with the region. And in its continuation, there is a plan to include other countries like Israel in this project.
However, as a result of this project, it is believed that several new geo-political changes are going to happen.
Even a few years ago, there was a perception in Delhi that India and the US could work together in the Indo-Pacific region but not the Middle East. And this time, breaking that myth, India has set up the 12U2 platform for the development of several joint economic projects with the United States of America, Israel and the United Arab Emirates. As a result, the prospects of the India-Arab-Europe corridor are also going to be quite bright.
Second, Pakistan’s veto was broken after it proposed India’s land link with the West. Since the 1990s, Delhi has sought various regional connectivity projects with Pakistan, but Islamabad has been adamant about giving India access to land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Thirdly, while Tehran agreed to open a more open path for India, its conflict with the West affected the utility of trade corridors across Iran in Eurasia.
The fourth corridor is seen as a way to deepen India’s strategic ties with the Arabian Peninsula. Earlier, the Modi government has rapidly developed political and strategic ties with the UAE and Saudi Arabia over the past few years. Now they have an opportunity to build a permanent link between India and Arabia.
The Fifth Mega Connectivity Project is also believed to be helpful in easing the political tension in the Arabian Peninsula by promoting inter-regional connectivity, assuring US officials.
Sixth, it is no secret that the new corridor is being brought up as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). And this project has already been adopted by several countries in South Asia, Middle East and Africa. Given the pace at which the new corridor will be implemented, the financial and environmental issues associated with the BRI are seen as a major challenge to overcome as well as avoid sustainability issues.
The seventh corridor will also highlight Europe’s dynamism in infrastructure development in the region. The European Union has earmarked €300 million for global infrastructure development in 2021-22.
Finally, the United States and the European Union also plan to build a trans-African corridor linking Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. India has also increased its closeness with African and Indian Ocean littoral countries. In such a situation, India would like to be in the team of the United States and the European Union in Africa as well.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in reference to the corridor, “Today we have all reached an important and historic partnership.” It should be a major channel of economic integration between India, West Asia and Europe in the coming times.’ The initiative involves India, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, European Union, France, Italy, Germany and the United States.