Egyptian President Visits India As Chief-Visitor On Republic Day : Exploring The Diplomacy Behind The Invitation

Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the incumbent President of the Arab Republic of Egypt is the chief visitor for the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi immediately – for which he arrived on Tuesday. The Chief-Visitor invitation is an envelope that will get pushed by an intricate means of diplomatic foresight and strategic pondering – and this text explains the importance of such an invite, the concerns behind it and what Al-Sisi’s go to means for India because it celebrates its 74th Republic Day. 

Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, President of Egypt (C) being greeted by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India (R) & Draupadi Murmu, President of India (L) [Image Credits : DNA India]

India’s 74th Republic Day Celebrations

India celebrates ‘Amrit Mahotsav’ of its independence (Picture Credit : PIB)

India’s 74th Republic Day Celebrations are marked by an inventory of ‘firsts’ because it celebrates 75 years of Independence, or Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

The Rajpath has been renamed ‘Kartavya Path’ in honour of our foundational ideas of democracy – and the VVIP seats for immediately’s parade, normally reserved for  handed out to the households of the employees who toiled to present impact to the grand imaginative and prescient of the New Central Vista. 

The newly rebuilt and renamed ‘Kartavya Path’ (Picture Credit : Deccan Herald)

As a part of one other such ‘first’, the invitation of being the chief-guest for the occasion has been prolonged to Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the present President of Egypt – and his go to makes him the primary Egyptian head of state to grow to be chief visitor for India’s R-Day celebration. 

The distinction of being chief-guest for this occasion is by no means an arbitrary symbolic gesture. As Mrs. Narinder Chauhan, former Indian Ambassador, explains – 

“The visitor nation is chosen after a deliberation of strategic, financial, and political pursuits.” 

How are the invites important?

(Picture Credit : Harvard Worldwide Assessment)

The invitation to be the chief visitor at Republic Day celebrations is the best honor a rustic accords, when it comes to protocol. The parade and different ceremonial actions are carried out in a way that retains the chief-guest in prominence, and embeds him into the very material of the occasion. 

The visitor can also be given the ceremonial guard of honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan, and is hosted personally by the President, Prime Minister, Vice-President & Exterior Affairs Minister in varied receptions, lunches and conferences. 

The prince of UAE receiving the ceremonial guard of honour throughout his go to because the chief visitor a number of years again (Picture Credit : TOI)

Ambassador Manbir Singh, who served as Chief of Protocol for the MEA between 1999 and 2002, mirrored on the importance of the Chief-Visitor go to – 

“It portrays the Chief-Visitor as taking part in India’s pleasure and happiness, and displays the friendship between the 2 peoples represented by the President of India and the Chief Visitor.” 

Symbolisms reminiscent of this alerts larger diplomatic relations between the 2 nations, and serves as a software for forging significant bilateral ties. 

Diplomacy remains to be a grandiose affair – particularly when the Monitor-I order is anxious. Such a excessive honor, alongside a meticulously deliberate occasion of colourful, well-made tableaus and ceremonial shows of army prowess – all act as a heat prelude for significant dialogue. 

India believes within the beliefs of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’, and thus realises that present of courtesies and extensions of honour reminiscent of this to visitor nations can foster a larger admiration for India’s traditions and tradition within the visitor nation – which in flip act as instruments of soft-power to facilitate higher cooperation. 

An occasion such because the Republic Day celebrations additionally ensures ample media protection – and thus the programmes and protocol hold this in view, as identified by Ambassador Singh. Not solely does nationwide media cowl the proceedings, so does the media entourage of the visiting head-of-state. 

Numerous types of show throughout the Republic Day parade (Picture Credit : Jagran Josh)

This enables visible transmission of symbols of Indian custom, tradition, historical past, honour and variety – comfortable energy showcases alongside weapon shows, present of arms and air-shows – onerous energy showcases, to the general public of the guest-country, and shapes their notion in regards to the host nation. 

What are the concerns behind the selection? 

(Picture Credit : The Dialog)

The extension of invitation is barely the ultimate step in an in any other case lengthy and strategic choice course of. The Ministry of Exterior Affairs undertakes a number of concerns under consideration earlier than it zeroes in on a possible chief-guest. 

On the core of this choice course of, lies the concept that the go to acts because the ‘final signal of friendship between India and the nation of the invitee’, an MEA officer shares. 

A Ministry of Exterior Affairs Assembly in progress (Picture Credit : IFS Arindam Bagchi @ Twitter)

Often the shortlisted invitees signify nations with whom India shares, or needs to share significant relations with a purpose to serve its political, industrial and strategic pursuits. 

Traditionally, nations which might be related to regional or multilateral groupings that India prioritizes, go increased up the short-list. 

For the reason that starting, members of the Non-Aligned Motion (NAM) have been prolonged the respect of being the chief-guest for this occasion. In 1950, President Sukarno of Indonesia, one of many 5 founding members of the NAM , was the chief-guest for the primary Republic Day celebration. Later, different key personalities reminiscent of Tito of Yugoslavia, additionally had been invited as chief-guests. 

President Sukarno of Indonesia being felicitated because the chief-guest of India’s first Republic Day ceremony (Picture Credit : 4to40)

As India went forward to grow to be a serious voice in South Asia, and with the formation of SAARC – this de-facto privilege handed on to SAARC members. India has hosted heads of state from Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri-Lanka and all different SAARC members a number of instances over. 

With shifting tides of multilateral alliances, this privilege stored being prolonged to numerous teams and casual groupings – reminiscent of ASEAN, BRICS, QUAD & SCO. 

Heads of 10 ASEAN states had been invited as chief-guests for the 69th Republic Day celebrations in 2018 (Picture Credit : PIB)

When it comes to protection, the MEA short-lists nations which both want to procure weapons and safety co-operation from us ; or nations we want to strategically ally with, and collect armaments from. 

The army parades, air-shows, weapon-displays act as each a present of power and of functionality – visitor nations are communicated the message that India possesses an excellent array of weapons and a big succesful contingent to place them to make use of, and in addition alerts that India is steady sufficient to be engaged as a army ally. 

Thus on this capability, the Republic Day celebration acts partly as a Protection-expo and partly as a 2+2 diplomatic & protection summit.

It’s stated that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s go to throughout the 2015 celebrations, and the go to of US President Barack Obama within the subsequent yr – led to a major shift of their notion of India’s defence potential, and paved the bottom for the QUAD alliance. 

The QUAD alliance (Picture Credit : The Diplomat)

Equally, French President Hollande’s go to as chief-guest for the 2016 Republic Day celebrations did ample for India’s procurement of Rafale jets from France. 

Rafale jets flying in formation for the Republic Day parade (Picture Credit : Zee Information)

Visits by heads-of-state from Bhutan (2005), Mauritius (2002), Russia (2007), UAE (2017), Brazil (2020), because the Chief-of-Visitor for the respective yr’s celebrations got here with the background of those nations seeking to import weapons, and concluded with them procuring Brahmos missiles, Pinaka rocket launchers & Dhruv mild helicopters from India in the identical yr. 

Brahmos Missiles being displayed on the Republic Day parade (Picture Credit : Swarajya)

Business concerns, reminiscent of bilateral-trade relations, curiosity to acquire a sure useful resource, potential for financial co-operation on tasks reminiscent of commerce corridors, logistical zones, larger multilateral initiative at WTO – all play a job behind the entries on the chief-guest short-list. 

Lastly, the provision of the visitor throughout this era additionally performs an important issue. Because of this, the MEA gives an inventory of potential friends – upon which Indian diplomats can keep it up communication and scheduling preparations with the heads of state who could make the go to. 

How vital is Al-Sisi’s Go to?

(Picture Credit : Newsbytes)

President Al-Sisi’s go to because the chief-guest for this yr’s Republic Day celebrations comes after a 2-year hiatus of not having any chief-guests for the celebrations as a result of pandemic. India & Egypt are additionally celebrating 75 years of diplomatic relations on this special day. 

Instantly after the invitation was accepted, the glory days of the Non-Alignment Motion had been recalled, as each India and Egypt had been founding members of the NAM and have been carefully associated ever since. 

Egypt & India share a ‘time-tested’ relationship, as expressed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who additionally shared that his expectations for this go to is to develop a way more strong partnership between these two historical civilisations. 

Egypt was chosen because the visitor nation, as consensus positive factors floor within the MEA that Egypt is a key participant within the Arab world – a strategic energy in Africa and a ‘gateway to the markets in Africa & Europe’. President Sisi’s go to makes him the primary Egyptian chief to grace the event. 

The Egyptian president is accompanied by a high-level delegation together with 5 ministers and senior officers, and ever since they landed on Tuesday, they’ve been a part of vital engagements, together with a bilateral meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 25, which addressed all problems with bilateral, regional and worldwide significance. 

The bilateral assembly between President Sisi & Prime Minister Modi on Wednesday (Picture Credit : ETV Bharat)

Commercially, India & Egypt share an in depth relationship. Egypt has historically been considered one of India’s most vital buying and selling companions within the African continent. This relationship has seen larger trust-building, particularly as Egypt grew to become a patron for India’s vaccine diplomacy throughout the pandemic – resulting in a 75 p.c improve in bilateral commerce in FY 2021-22 as in comparison with FY 2020-21. 

(Picture Credit : Azar Information)

The 2 nations are prone to cooperate within the sector of agriculture. Lately, Egypt has been dealing with a scarcity of meals grains because of Russia-Ukraine scarcity, and has expressed curiosity to acquire extra of the identical from India. Commerce talks across the identical can facilitate unique scientific cooperation within the subject of meals safety. 

Consultants from Carnegie inform that Egypt is at the moment dealing with a overseas alternate disaster – and would possibly have a look at Indian investments within the nation. India can also be planning to extend its investments in infrastructure tasks within the nation, particularly in and across the Suez Canal – which is rising in strategic significance for Indian companies in addition to the Indian Navy. This could additionally function an vital space of cooperation throughout this go to. 

The Suez Canal is among the most strategic delivery lanes on the earth (Picture Credit : The Marine Categorical)

Moreover, growing protection & Safety cooperation between the 2 nations can also be a serious motive behind the invite. Egypt needs to acquire Tejas mild fight aircrafts, Akash surface-to-air missiles and Dhruv superior mild helicopters from India – all of which might be displayed in immediately’s ceremony. Each the nations have additionally been participating in a number of joint army workouts and coaching missions. 

HAL ‘Dhruv’ Superior Mild Helicopters (Picture Credit : DefenceXP)

India’s present Presidency of the G20 additionally performs a job behind the invitation. Lately, India expressed that it needs to be the ‘voice of the worldwide south’ – and Egyptian cooperation is very vital for this, not solely as a result of it has emerged as a stakeholder in sure key areas of the World South such because the Horn of Africa – but in addition as a result of Egypt not too long ago hosted the UN Local weather Change convention, the place  main South-South cooperation was witnessed over the problem of ‘loss and injury’. 

The ‘Loss & Injury’ debate on the COP27 summit in Egypt dropped at the forefront a motion for local weather justice for the World South nations (Picture Credit : OpenDemocracy)

Egypt’s influential membership within the Arab League & the African Union additionally permits India to make grounds in regional boards of the World South the place it can’t attain out immediately. 

Egypt can also be a brand new member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which is at the moment chaired by India. India needs to construct significant cooperation with Egypt to maintain Russia & China in test and to ship on its goal to make SCO extra ‘SECURE’ underneath its chairmanship. 

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Subhajit Roy of the Indian Categorical additionally highlighted yet another political significance behind the extension of the invitation to Egypt. As India’s ties with Muslim-majority nations had been threatened as a result of current controversy across the feedback made by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, the connection with the Islamic nation of Egypt emerged extra vital. 

Egypt was one of many few nations from the Arab world to not formally react to the remarks. This made the MEA have a look at Egypt as a ‘reasonable Islamic voice’ – particularly within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the place a robust partnership with Egypt permits India to not directly counter its condemnation, led by nations reminiscent of Pakistan. 

On a ultimate notice…

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This makes President Sisi’s go to extraordinarily important for India, and as soon as once more showcases the diplomatic relevance of the chief-guest invitation for the Republic Day celebrations. 

Nevertheless, such significance additionally comes with a accountability – for the MEA to ask a head-of-state who represents and abides by the democratic beliefs of our structure. 

Jair Bolsonaro, the then President of Brazil was invited because the Chief Visitor for the 2020 R-day celebrations

When Jair Bolsonaro was invited because the chief-guest in 2020, New Delhi witnessed a variety of protests and damaging reactions in opposition to that invitation, majorly as a result of Bolsonaro’s insurance policies and actions had been perceived as authoritarian.  

That could be a reminder that must be internalised on the eve of India@75.

(Picture Credit : Harzindagi)