Indo-Irish relations are the bilateral ties 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, Bunreacht na hEireann. Mutual benefit has been seen in keen economic ties. There are also regular governmental visits. Indo-Irish relations were also strengthened by such luminaries as the likes of Pandit Nehru, Éamon de Valera, Rabindranath Tagore, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, Sister Nivedita and Annie Besant.
During the struggles for freedom from colonial rule, Indian and Irish "nationalist movements were linked by a history of rebellion against British rule." Studies have often compared to 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 firm supporter of Indian self rule. In 1916 she launched the Home Rule League to model Indian independence on the Irish struggle. Both 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 moves such as India in defence against european imperialism). A sixteenth century proverb said "he who would win England, must with Ireland beging;" 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. Additionally, Irish missionaries, educationalists, medical and engineering service professionals were also posted in India during this period.
Mutual recognition occurred in 1947, upon Indian independence, while diplomatic exchange opened later. India established an embassy in Ireland in 1951, while Ireland did the same in 1964. Ireland maintains Honorary Consulates in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru.
The bombing of Air India's Kanishka on June 23, 1985 led to a further bond of ties beyond the political arena. In this the families of Indians and NRI's were tied with Ahakista and County Cork. An elegant memorial in the village stands as a testimony to these ties; while the opening of an eamon de valera Marg in the Indian capital also fostered these ties.
The Irish embassy says "Ireland is well-known for being at the forefront in fostering policies and programmes for global development. The Irish are well-known for their generosity in responding to humanitarian emergencies, and are also amongst the world’s top donors in per capita terms in support of more long-term development programmes." In like measure, it was said that Irish voices are renowned for speaking out against poverty and injustice, while the likes of Bono have used their status and influence to advance many important causes such as the campaign for debt forgiveness in the developing world and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Some €5m was said to be being spent in India each year. A substantial proportion of the funding was said to be channelled through some of the large Irish NGOs, including Trócaire, Goal and Concern, and agencies that augment the Irish Aid funds from their own resources to implement large-scale programmes where they focus, such as Orissa and West Bengal. Further portions of the funds were granted to a second category of Irish and international NGOs to fund stand-alone projects and programmes through the Civil Society Fund. An increasing level of resources was also earmarked by the Irish Government for supporting the work of indigenous civil society within the country. The Irish embassy was also said to be pursuing a range of initiatives and strategies to ensure that resources produced maximum outcomes in terms of efforts to reduce poverty in some of the poorest parts of India. Amongst the highlighted social issued in India, one NGO, using Irish Aid funds, developed wells at girls’ schools; this supported the twin aims of providing clean water and promoting education for the girl-child.
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 Ranbaxy Laboratories, Wockhardt Group and Reliance Life Sciences in the pharmaceutical industry; with TCS and other IT companies in the relevant field. 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 1000 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).
And Ireland India Council also seeks to foster business ties between the two states. 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
- Organise workshop and conferences to its members
- Provide cultural familiarisation 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.
During a visit to India in November 2012 with delegation from 16 universities, Minister for Education and Skills Ciaran Cannon said that the two countries have "old ties" and there were many Irish missionaries who run schools in India. He also announced: "We want very strong education ties with India. We not only want Indian students to come to Ireland but we also want Irish students to come to India. Ireland to grow, needs trade. If our students have international exposure, it will be easier for us to grow." In this vein, he unveiled several scholarships for Indian students to study in Ireland. IUA's International Education Manager Sinead Lucey said: "Choosing Ireland is a very smart choice for students in areas such as IT, pharmaceuticals and food where there are not enough graduates to fill the jobs. In fact, Ireland has been looking to India to fill some of these jobs. Also, the number of multinational companies in Ireland is something you won’t get in other countries and they continue to create job opportunities for skilled graduates." It followed the enticing prospect of extended visas to work in Ireland with chances to apply for residency and citizenship.
- From India
- From Ireland
- In addition to the Ireland and India, one such study (T.G. Fraser's Partition in Ireland, India and Palestine.) has also extended the comparison to the other great British blemish Palestine.
And see http://www.columbia.edu/cu/english/orals/India_Ireland.htm
- The Decline of Empires By Emil Brix, Klaus Koch, Elisabeth Vyslonzil