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India – Ireland bilateral relations

India – Ireland bilateral relations


India–Ireland relations, also known as Irish–Indian relations or Indo-Irish relations, refer to the bilateral relations between India and Ireland. As former possessions of the British Empire, the two countries had a similar fight against a common adversary and there were many ties between the respective independence movements in the two countries.

Many of the provisions of the constitution of India were drawn from their Irish counterpart, the Constitution of Ireland. There are also regular governmental visits in both the countries. Indo-Irish relations were also strengthened by people like Jawaharlal Nehru, Éamon de Valera, Rabindranath Tagore, W B Yeats, James Joyce, Sister Nivedita and Annie Besant.

Emerging Relations

During the struggles for freedom from the colonial rule, Indian and Irish “nationalist movements were linked by a history of rebellion against the British rule.” Studies have often compared the two independence struggles. Independence leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Éamon de Valera were said to be in touch with each other. Likewise Vithalbhai Patel and Subhas Chandra Bose were also said to be in touch with Irish nationalist leaders. The strongest tie between the two was the link of Annie Besant, from an Irish family but a firm supporter of Indian self rule.

In 1916 the Home Rule League was launched to model Indian independence based on the Irish struggle. Both the countries held economic, political, and strategically important ties to the British Empire. In both cases, the independent struggles led to other movements within the British Empire for independence while even other European empires like Angola were motivated by these moves such as the defence of India against European imperialism.

A sixteenth century proverb said “he who would win England, must with Ireland begin;” this was matched by Lord Curzon’s “As long as we rule India we are the greatest power in the world. If we lose it we shall drop straight away to a third rate power.” Lord Salisbury continued, perhaps prophetically, that “Ireland must be kept like India by persuasion if not by force.” The aim to progress Irish Catholics and Indian Muslims and Hindus served to promote the cultural nationalisms and autonomous demands of both nations.

A significant number of Irish people joined the British civil service and the army regiment during the nineteenth century. The Irish civil servants included Sir Michael Francis O’Dwyer and General Reginald Dyer who provided distinguished service during the British Rule in India. Additionally, Irish missionaries, educationalists, medical and engineering service professionals were also posted in India during this period.

Economic Relations

Total trade between the two countries went from €363.5 million in 2005 to €447.3 million in 2007. Indian exports (having been higher in at least the accounted period) counted for €279.8 million to Indian imports of €167.5 million in 2007.

Indian exports included garments and clothing, textile yarn, and medical and pharmaceutical products. Indian imports included telecommunications and sound equipment, automatic data processing machines, and other manufactured articles.

Indian companies such as Ranbaxy Laboratories, Wockhardt Group and Reliance Life Sciences in the pharmaceutical industry; with TCS and other IT companies in the relevant field are prominent companies based in Ireland. Irish companies in India were much broader with IT services, banking video gaming, oil exploration, media outlets, the Met Pro Group, property companies, cement companies, food processing, and software products industries represented.

Furthermore, a Science and Technology  Cooperation  Agreement  was  signed  in  2006  with  Ahern’s  visit  to  India. Furthermore, an estimated 1,000 Indian students were said to be studying in Ireland, while 20,000 – 25,000 Indian and PIO’s were said to reside in Ireland (16,000 – 18,000 of whom were Indian citizens).

Ireland Indian Council also seeks to foster business ties between the two countries. The Council sought to increase “People to People Contact,” “Cultural Exchange” engendered through cultural awareness as a necessary attribute to nurturing bilateral relations and / or economic interactions, as “Exchange of Ideas,” and more importantly “Business-to-Business Interaction.” The council said it existed to provide services for:

  • Networking in desirable business sectors both in India and in Ireland
  • Assist its members in setting and operating their business in India and vice versa
  • Provide travel assistance to its members
  • Organize workshop and conferences to its members
  • Provide cultural familiarization and training to the companies staff and executives

The Ireland India Business Association (IIBA) was founded in May 2008 to enhance and increase commercial links between Irish and Indian businesses.

To know more about bilateral relations between India and Ireland, please download our booklet.

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