India-Egypt Relations

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January 27, 2023

Why in news?

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has been invited as the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations this year.

What is the significance of a Republic Day invite?

  • Choosing the Chief Guest - The choice of chief guest is dictated by a number of reasons — strategic and diplomatic, business interests, and international geo-politics.
  • Another factor in the choice of the Chief Guest is the association with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) which began in the late 1950s, early 1960s.
  • The first Chief Guest of the parade in 1950 was President Sukarno of Indonesia, one of the five founding members of the NAM.
  • Significance - Being invited as the chief guest at Republic Day celebrations is the highest honour a country accords in terms of protocol.
  • It is the ultimate sign of friendship between India and the country of the invitee.
  • This is the first time that an Egyptian President has been invited as chief guest for the event.
  • El-Sisi’s arrival in India as the Chief Guest invokes the history of NAM and the close relationship they have shared for 75 years.


What is the history of India-Egypt relations?

  • Historical - The history of contacts between India and Egypt, two of the world’s oldest civilisations, can be traced back to at least the time of Emperor Asoka.
  • In modern times, Mahatma Gandhi and the Egyptian revolutionary Saad Zaghloul shared common goals on independence from British colonial rule.
  • Geostrategic - Egypt, the most populous country in West Asia, occupies a crucial geo-strategic location — 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal.
  • It is a major market for India and can act as a gateway to both Europe and Africa.
  • It also has bilateral trade pacts with important West Asian and African nations.
  • Political - The joint announcement of the establishment of diplomatic relations at the Ambassadorial level was made in 1947.
  • India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser signed the friendship treaty in 1955 and they were key to form the NAM in 1961.
  • High-level exchanges with Egypt continued after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.
  • New Delhi views Egypt as a moderate Islamic voice, which has made an attempt to play a positive role in the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
  • Economic - The India-Egypt bilateral trade agreement has been in operation since 1978 and is based on the most-favoured nation clause.
  • The bilateral trade has increased more than five times in the past 10 years.
  • Agriculture will be a key area of cooperation as Egypt is facing a shortage of food grains due to Ukraine Russia war.
  • Other sectors – Egypt is keen to push for more tourism from India so that there is more forex inflow into their tourism-dependent economy.
  • A proposal for establishing an IIT in Egypt is in the works.
  • Egypt is interested in procuring defence equipment from India, which includes LCA Tejas, missiles like Akash, DRDO’s Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon, and radars.
  • Egypt has also been invited to participate in the Aero-India 2023 at Yelahanka Air Force Station, Bengaluru, next month.
  • Recently, India-Egypt bilateral relationship was elevated to a “Strategic Partnership” which will have broadly 4 elements.
    • Political, defence, and security
    • Economic engagement
    • Scientific and academic collaboration
    • Cultural and people-to-people contacts

What geo-strategic concerns lie ahead?

  • However, China’s bilateral trade with Egypt is double that of India’s in 2021-22.
  • India should use this opportunity to forge a new path ahead, not just for their strategic and economic interests, but as the voice of the Global South.

Quick facts

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

  • The OIC is formerly the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
  • It is the world’s second largest inter-governmental organisation after the UN, with a membership of 57 states.
  • Its stated objective is “to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world”.
  • OIC has reserved membership for Muslim-majority countries.
  • Russia, Thailand, and a couple of other small countries have Observer status.
  • India is home to the world's third largest Muslim population, next only to Indonesia and Pakistan.
  • Yet, India is not a member of the OIC.



  1. The Indian Express | Sisi’s visit as Republic Day chief guest
  2. The Indian Express | India’s ties with Egypt
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