India and Georgia, represent two ancient civilization of the world. They are geographically not much far from each other. Both countries survived many historic challenges and had strong trade links in the past. In recent years, both countries are experiencing a steady rise in people-to-people engagement, especially in culture and trade. The Embassy of Georgia in New Delhi was opened in 2010. Considering the changing global geopolitical realities and increasing connectivity between Europe and Asia, India needs to revive and rebuild its historic ties with Georgia to meet its national interests in the 21st century. Georgia could be a ‘Gateway to Europe’ for India.
St. Relics of St. Queen Ketevan
On September 24, 2017, the relics of the 17th century Georgian queen and martyred saint, Ketevan, were temporarily transferred from India to Georgia following many years of extensive negotiations between the two countries. This historic return from Goa, India to Georgia happened after almost 400 years of absence. It occurred during a year marketing the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Georgia and India. The Georgian people have been waiting for that day for a long time, and the much anticipated arrival of the Relics to Georgia was only possible thanks to mutual commitment and sprit of strong collaboration between the Georgian and Indian sides. His Holiness and beatitude Ilia II, the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia sent an appreciation letter addressed to H.E. Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India.
St. Queen Ketevan carries enormous spiritual and inspirational importance for the Georgian people. She was strong in faith and devoted her entire life to the Georgian people. She struggled to defend dignity, faith and the identity of her nation. After refusing to change her faith, she was sentenced to death in Shiraz in 1624 after suffering indescribable torments. Shortly after her martyrdom, Queen Ketevan was canonized as a Saint by the Georgian Church. His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia greeted the relics of St. Ketevan at the Tbilisi Airport. The relics were put on display at the Georgian National Museum and the Holy Trinity Church (Sameba) in Tbilisi, and were taken to other dioceses in Georgia. They traveled throughout Georgia and the whole nation was greeting them with great joy and admiration. Under the transfer agreement, the Relics of the beloved saint Queen remained in Georgia for one year and then came back to Goa, India. The mutual gesticulation among the countries for each other’s culture and heritage marks a new beginning in the bilateral relationship, which is set to blossom in the coming years.
At present, India and Georgia are deepening bilateral ties in an array of field, including but not limited to tourism, aviation, investment and cultural exchange. Georgia, located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, can become a gateway for India to the European Market. The two market economise can build sustained partnerships in the knowledge-intensive service sectors, such as education, information & communication, and emerging niche sectors, such as renewable energy and green technologies. Such partnerships in process of fruition will create regional and intra-regional value chains that will interlock the domestic markets of the two countries.
Georgia and India are now attempting to re-discover their ancient ties. India, a fast-developing large economy, and rising global power holds the greater responsibility of reaching out and actively engaging with Georgia, a state of great geo-strategic importance with an open market, so as to generate wide-ranging mutual benefits. A close India-Georgia relationship will enable India to gain a strategically beneficial partnership with the Caucasus region, thereby expanding its connectivity strategy toward Europe. Georgia, in turn, will have a new supporter connecting it to the Orient.