This working paper is a joint project by Spain’s Elcano Royal Institute and India’s Observer Research Foundation in the context of the commemoration of 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries and the recent official visit of Prime Minister Modi to Madrid.
The report’s aim is to analyse the current status of bilateral relations, to highlight the key areas where there is potential for further improvement and the obstacles that are hindering the relationship. It also explores the strategic sectors which can be key drivers for further cooperation to consolidate and expand the bilateral partnership.
Objectives and methodology
This working paper is a joint project by Spain’s Elcano Royal Institute and India’s Observer Research Foundation in the context of the commemoration of 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries and the recent official visit of Prime Minister Modi to Madrid. Its purpose is to contribute to further deepen and expand this bilateral partnership.
The Elcano Royal Institute is a think tank for international and strategic studies that analyses world events and trends from a Spanish, European and global perspective. The Institute was established in Madrid in 2001 as a private foundation under the honorary presidency of HM the King of Spain. Its Board of Trustees comprises prominent figures linked to Spanish foreign policy and representatives of companies that fund the Institute and four Spanish Ministries: Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; Defence; Education, Culture and Sport; and Economy and Trade.
The Elcano Royal Institute focuses on both specific topics and geographical areas. Asia-Pacific is included among the latter and in the past few years the Institute has produced various analyses and working papers on the bilateral relations between India and Spain.2
The Observer Research Foundation (ORF) is a think tank established in India in 1990. At a period of renewed Indian engagement with the international economic order, several challenges emerged, suggesting the need for an independent forum to critically examine the problems facing the country and help develop coherent policy responses. This was the origin of ORF, which brought together leading Indian economists and policymakers to design an agenda for India’s economic reforms.
From primarily looking inwards and engaging with domestic reforms to gradually forging global partnerships, ORF today plays a seminal role in building a political and policy consensus to enable India to interact with the world. As the country begins to take up a larger role in the 21st century, ORF aims to introduce new ideas into the policy discourse and provide a platform for a new generation of thinkers. It is supported in its mission by leading intellectuals, academics, policymakers, business leaders, institutions and civil society actors and has produced many analysis and documents on the relations between Asia, the EU and certain key European states.2 This paper is its first joint effort with a Spanish think tank.
Representatives of both institutions met at the first Spain-India Think Tanks’ Meeting and Dialogue on Global, Geoeconomics & Defence Challenges held in Madrid and organised by the Spain-India Council Foundation in October 2015.3 During the discussions at the meeting and in further communications over the following months, the Elcano Royal Institute and ORF concurred that the 60th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations provided an excellent opportunity for a Spanish and an Indian think tank to join forces in an effort to analyse the bilateral relations from the perspective of each country and to produce a joint working document with conclusions and recommendations to strengthen them.
One researcher from each institution has been responsible for conducting a field study including interviews and questionnaires with politicians, business people, diplomats, civil servants, academics, journalists and representatives of non-governmental organisations, in India and Spain. They have collected the relevant information and gathered ideas and contributions from these key national stakeholders involved in the bilateral relation.
After formulating initial drafts of different sections, the authors worked together to develop the document. They would like to recognise the support received from all those who shared their valuable knowledge and ideas with them over the past few months. Their contribution has played a decisive role in its preparation.
The aim of this working paper is to analyse the current status of the countries’ bilateral relations, highlighting the key areas where there is potential for further improvement and the obstacles that are hindering joint efforts. Its ultimate object is to present a series of recommendations and proposals to strengthen these relations and foster cooperation on common projects.
Following an introduction focused on the state of the bilateral relation, the paper analyses different key dimensions with a strong potential as drivers for a future and more relevant cooperation between Spain and India:
- Bilateral economic relations.
- Diplomatic cooperation and security.
- Joint efforts on science and technology.
- Education, culture and tourism as fields of cooperation.
- The role of migrants from both countries in Spain and India.
Although the focus of the document is the bilateral relation between India and Spain, the authors understand that there are significant avenues of cooperation as regards common interests and joint action in international organisations. Especially important in this respect is the role of the EU, which will be analysed in a specific chapter on the impact of EU-India relations on the bilateral connection.
The document concludes with a summary of its recommendations to consolidate a strengthened cooperation between India and Spain. To a large extent, this is yet an underexplored area with great potential at the political, economic, social and cultural levels and the authors expect to make a contribution to it.
Rubén Campos Palarea
Senior Research Follow, Elcano Royal Institute, and Programs Coordinator, Club de Madrid | @RubenCamposP
Senior Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, India
1 The most relevant is available in English: Rubén Campos (2015), ‘Spain’s current standing in India: its image and political relations’, Working Paper, nr 5/2015, Elcano Royal Institute.
2 Two recent examples are Samir Saran & Britta Petersen (2016), ‘Beyond #Brexit: what ails the European Union?’, Special Report, Observer Research Foundation, and Niccolo Beduschi (2016), ‘The new ASEAN community: the European way to integration?’, Occasional Paper, ORF.
3 The meeting’s agenda is at Spain-India Think Tanks’ Dialogue on Global, Geoeconomics and Defence & Security Challenges.