Return to Transcripts main page
CONNECT THE WORLD
Special Coverage Of India's Election; Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Booed in Soma
Aired May 15, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Well, the world has never seen an election like it. And 24 hours from now, we should know whether India has voted out its ruling Congress Party and voted in a new era.
I'm Becky Anderson. I'll be live from New Delhi for the next hour and throughout the weekend telling you what this election means for the people of India and indeed for the rest of the world.
You're watching Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.
Well, all the latest on India's elections in a moment. First, though, we begin with the mine disaster in Turkey. And growing anger towards the government here for you with the very latest from there.
The president Abdullah Gul visited the hospital today to offer condolences to victims of the mine explosion and indeed the fire, nearly 300 miners were killed in the accident, dozens are still trapped.
Now hundreds of protesters furious with the government held rallies in Istanbul and in Ankara earlier. Police responded with water cannon and tear gas. And a photographer reportedly -- or a photograph reportedly showing a government adviser kicking a protester on the ground is sparking even more anger.
Well, Hala Gorani joins us live from the scene of this mine disaster in Soma in Turkey.
Hala, what's the latest?
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky this is really dry and dusty and harsh mining country here. And this is a town in mourning. We have 282 individuals confirmed killed after an explosion and a fire in the mine behind me. Today, a lot quieter, no bodies have been pulled out. Miners we speak with tell us they've lost all hope that anyone will be pulled out alive.
Of course a lot of anger, you mentioned it there at the top of the program with demonstrators, especially those opposed to the government here, blaming authorities saying that safety checks were not in place, that the standard that should be in place in mines in order to ensure that in the case of an emergency such as the one that happened here, that miners have an opportunity to get to the surface.
They say that was not the case here.
Abdullah Gul, the president, came today. He got slightly better reception than the prime minister yesterday who was booed, who was in fact pelted as his car drove out.
And one thing we did notice is that the family members and relatives of those believed still trapped in the mine and sadly probably not -- will not be coming out alive, those have been kept away. We hear from people here that permission to enter this zone is really granted only to officials, to people working on the rescue and to journalists as well.
So you're seeing a situation where it's a lot calmer. And today, Becky, importantly not a single body pulled out.
The question is are they not able to get to them. Are they at a stage where they've given up hope that anyone is alive, only the few coming hours are going to be able to tell us what happens. But the anguish and the mourning palpable here.
ANDERSON: Yeah, Hala thank you for that.
We'll have a lot more on the mine disaster in Turkey later on the show.
We're going to take a closer look at that controversial photo of a government adviser apparently kicking a protester, how that is deepening the anti-government sentiment that's been spilling onto the streets for months, remember.
And we'll talk about the wider political fallout from the disaster for the government of the prime minister Mr. Erdogan.
Hundreds of millions of votes, and now they are about to be counted.
After a decade under the leadership of Prime Minister Singh, India has undertaken the world's biggest ever exercise in democracy. And the subcontinent appears to be on the cusp of major change.
Let's take a moment to recap just how we got here.
Well, the world's biggest election ever has some 840 million eligible voters. Forget election day, this was more like election season. Voting staggered over nine days, starting April 7 in the northeast of the country and ending Monday in west Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. That was five weeks, sorry.
Nearly 550 million votes were cast. Counting them begins Friday, tomorrow morning.
989 counting centers have been set up across the country. And they are expected to give us some solid results the same day. If there is a clear winner with a clear majority of 272 -- that's the magic number -- 272 seats or more, the new prime minister and his cabinet are usually sworn in within a week.
Now if no single party reaches that number, it can form a coalition with other groups. If that doesn't happen, either the president steps in. He can invite the party with the highest number of seats to form a minority government.
Well, CNN's Sumnima Udas has been covering the elections over the past several weeks. She joins me now live from New Delhi. But not here at India gate.
This is the night before the morning after, as it were, with election results due at around 8:00, certainly the first of them. That is about 12 hours from now.
What's the atmosphere like, do you think? Test me the waters, if you will, here in New Delhi.
SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Becky
There's a lot of excitement. In the next 12 hours or so we'll really see the culmination of what's been a long hot, unpredictable and superchaged five weeks of voting and campaigning. Many people here say this is the most significant election India has seen in perhaps decades. And that's really because India is really at a crossroads of sorts. After many years of almost double digit growth, the economy has really slowed down in the past two years. Many people here are frustrated, particularly the youth. And they are yearning for some kind of change.
Now what that change will be, we'll only know, of course, in the next 12 hours or so once the votes are counted, once the results are announced.
But almost all the exit polls and opinion polls are indicating that the next government will be led by the BJP, which is of course the opposition party, with Narendra Modi as the prime minister.
Now as we've been reporting, throughout the week, Becky, Narendra Modi is perhaps one of the most controversial figures in Indian politics. People either absolutely love him here, or they hate him. I've been to some of his rallies here. He is almost that rock star kind of status. Tens of thousands of people chanting Modi, Modi, Modi, Modi. They say he is decisive. He's effective. He's efficient. He's exactly the kind of leader India needs at the moment.
But still there are a lot of critics as well. And they he actually represents an India that is perhaps more divisive. And that is, of course, because when he was chief minister of the state of Gujarat back in 2002 there were anti-Muslim riots where more than 1,000 Muslims were killed. And his critics say he didn't do enough to stop those riots.
He of course continues to deny those charges. The supreme court has said there's not enough evidence against him.
But still that shadow really of the Gujarat riots continues to hang over Narendra Modi.
Now to be fair to Modi, Becky, he has tried to remove himself from that discourse. And he's really been pushing the economy, the governance angle, particularly during the campaign. But still, his critics say he hasn't done enough to mend his relationship with the minority community here with the Muslims and particularly that he still hasn't apologized for what happened in Gujarat -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Sumnima Udas there in New Delhi for you with analysis on where things stand and where we might be going. Do stay with Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson as we take a closer look this hour at the largest ever election the world has ever seen.
This is the third largest Asian economy, but with growth at the sort of levels certainly down to the sort of levels we saw back in the 1980s. There is a faltering economy here. There is also a story to tell on the international stage. We'll tell you why. The outcome of a vote here will have global ramifications.
We are going to take a very short break. But can Narendra Modi get the Indian economy right? Investors seem to think so. We'll run the numbers for you after this. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Well, a very warm welcome back from New Delhi this evening. You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with my, Becky Anderson.
Well, hundreds of relatives in western Turkey are anxiously waiting for any word on the fate of their loved ones trapped underground after a mine explosion two days ago.
Now officials say nearly 300 miners were killed when a power transformer in the mine exploded. 88 were rescued alive shortly after the accident. Dozens, though, are still missing with little hope that they will now be found alive.
The Turkish president visited victims of the explosion. He told family members that a full investigation will be conducted.
Well, an image that's sure to haunt the Turkish prime minister is spreading like wildfire on social media. The image is said to show and adviser to the government seen here wearing a business suit kicking a protester on the ground in Soma in Turkey where this explosion happened. The man was being restrained by two security officers at the time.
Well, this troubling image comes after Prime Minister Erdogan was booed and jeered during his visit to the site on Wednesday.
Joining me now from Washington to discuss this is Steven Cook. He's a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies on the council of foreign relations.
We're going to talk about the prime minister, his reputation and his standing, but before we do that lest we forget there are people still trapped underground, sadly very little hope of finding them alive.
Steven, this is a prime minister that at least the opposition accuses of knowing that there were issues with the safety at the mines, particularly this one, and not doing enough about it. What sort of damage is this doing, if any, to the Turkish prime minister?
STEVEN COOK, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, it is true that Turkish mines are notoriously unsafe and that the opposition party did table a proposal to investigate mine safety in this area just last week, which the government rejected. And this is likely to have an impact on the political foment that has been going on in Turkey for the better part of the last year.
The prime minister's party just won municipal elections. They garnered about 45 percent of the vote. And it's -- but it's unlikely that this is going to have a profound impact on his standing in general. He's likely to stand for presidential elections in August.
But I think Turkey is in for a relatively difficult summer after this incident.
ANDERSON: It's had a fairly difficult year despite the fact, of course, that only a couple of months ago this is a prime minister who won out in the municipal elections much to his opposition's chagrin. And as you say, you point out rightly that this is a man who at least sees himself as destined for a presidency.
What does that mean for Turkey on the international stage, do you think?
COOK: Well, throughout this last year, beginning with the Gezi Park protests that were in Istanbul and other parts of the country, the corruption scandal that broke last December, a very difficult municipal election that saw the government banning Twitter and YouTube and Erdogan using all kinds of authoritarian tools, Turkey's international standing has suffered significantly.
This incident, the incident with this adviser Yousef Yerkel (ph) kicking a protester, all of these things are going to come together and paint a picture of Turkey rather than the prosperous, liberalizing country that everybody believed it was going to be at the dawn of Prime Minister Erdogan's tenures. It is now clearly a country that is turning illiberal, even authoritarian. And this represents a significant problem for Turks both at home as well as their standing abroad.
ANDERSON: I'm hoping that -- yeah, OK, it looks as if we may be having technical issues with our guest there, but you've hear what he said. As far as this mining disaster is concerned, a lot of those who oppose Mr. Erdogan out on the streets again.
But as our guest is pointing out tonight he says at least he thinks this is a man who can survive what is another, this time deadly and very tragic, episode in Turkey's history.
Well, this programming note, our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour sits down with Turkey's foreign minister to get his response to what is this unfolding disaster. Watch that exclusive interview today 7:00 in London, 9:00 in Istanbul, 10:00 in Abu Dhabi if you're watching here it is 11:30, that interview, in New Delhi.
We are live from New Delhi. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.
Coming up, growing frustration over rising living costs, the economy remains an absolute priority here for many in India. Can their demands be met? We're hours away from a new government. We're going to discuss that. Up next.
ANDERSON: From New Delhi tonight, welcome back. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.
Well, in the days leading up to our special coverage from New Delhi, we've been reminding you how big the task of holding elections is in India, the world's biggest test of democracy, don't forget that.
Here's how the process breaks down.
ANDERSON: India held the biggest election event in the world to select its next prime minister. More than 800 million Indians are registered to vote in a polling event that started on the 7th of April and went on until the 12th of May.
This was an unprecedented polling exercise from Kashmir in the north to Tamil Nadu (ph) in the south, India's mammoth voting process was spread across 28 states and seven union territories.
The 814 million eligible voters representing an increase of more than 100 million people since the last election in 2009.
The biggest increase is among 18 to 19 year olds. They make up 2.88 percent of total voters. To accommodate voters, 930,000 polling stations were set up around the country, that's up from just over 830,000 in 2009.
This election saw two significant changes in the voting process. When registering, voters had the option of selecting other in the gender category. The change was implemented to be more inclusive of the transgender community.
Also, voters had the option of selecting none of the above on their ballots, allowing them to reject candidates.
The economy, corruption, treatment of women all issues people are concerned with. Will this bring a change in a nation of more than 1.2 billion people?
ANDERSON: Well, I'm joined here at this local market in New Delhi by the former editor-in-chief of the Hindu, one of India's largest newspapers. Mr. Siddharth Varadarajan. It's clear that Modi, Narendra Modi and the BJP Party are likely to win this and win this big. What can we expect?
SIDDARTH VARADARAJAN, FRM. EDITOR, THE HINDU: So I think it's first priority is obviously going to be to begin to deliver on the promises he made on the economic front. Don't forget, this is a country whose young electorate appears to have overwhelmingly rejected the congress, because they say the congress isn't the party that's going to provide me jobs, isn't looking after the economy. And Modi portrayed himself as a guy who could deliver on that front.
So I think the expectations are enormous. And I think his first focus is going to be to do something to revive the growth rate in this economy.
ANDERSON: If you had to draw an analogy with Mr. Modi and somebody else on the international stage, who would it be?
VARADARAJAN: Well, he's a strong, some would say authoritarian centralizing figuring. Putin would be a good example. You know, Putin had this concept -- Vladimir Putin has this concept of (inaudible) where power is concentrated and what he decides gets enforced all the way down the line.
Modi, in many ways, is a guy like that. He doesn't rely too much on deputies. He doesn't delegate. What he says should -- you know, he pushes through what he wants.
ANDERSON: Just -- just then contextualize this for me, for the international viewer, why does what happens here and with India on the international stage matter?
VARADARAJAN: I think it matters for two reasons. One, of course India is a large economy, large growing economy that has slowed down over the last three, four years. And I think obviously this has a negative impact in terms of global economic prospects.
I think the world -- part of the reason why global business is bullish on Narendra Modi is that they hope that he will revive the economy, make it a better destination for foreign investment and so on and so forth.
The other reason is that, you know, India is bang in the center of a crucial geopolitical region. You have Pakistan and Afghanistan where the U.S. is going to withdraw from this year. You have, you can say worsening relations with China, between the U.S. and China.
How India negotiates its way through this very complicated environment will affect not just India, but also Asia and the wider world.
ANDERSON: And that...
VARADARAJAN: And that's a big challenge for Mr. Modi.
ANDERSON: Well, it certainly will be.
Investors seem happy at the prospect of a win for the BJP and that man, Mr. Modi. The Indian stock market closed at a fresh record high this season.
Let's bring in our Mallika Kapur. Mallika, you have been across the country reporting on the campaign, which has been somewhat five weeks now. What are people telling you?
MALLIKA KAPUR: What people are telling me is that they hope Modi can do for the rest of India what he has been able to do in Gujarat.
What he's been able to do, as people will tell you, he's created an atmosphere, an environment, that's really business friendly, an environment where it's possible to start a business, to grow a business and to have a business flourish. And it's been called the Gujarat model of development.
I recently met some young graduates of a top business school who live in Mumbai in the state of Maharajstra (ph), but when they had to choose where to set up their factories, they didn't chose their home state, they decided that they were going to set it up in Gujarat. Why? Because it's so easy to do business.
There is no shortage of power. There are no power cuts. There is no problems with water. The infrastructure is fantastic. And they said most of all, you know, we can just buy one license, we can apply for one license, we get it right away, and that takes care of so many other permits. And we don't have that atmosphere anywhere else in India. And that really sums up the Gujarat model of development.
ANDERSON: That's fascinating.
Mallika will be with me, as will Sumnima, as will our Indian bureau chief in the days ahead, as I say. We get the results to begin trickling in about 12 hours from now. And what happens here as we are pointing out, really means something on the international stage. This is not just an election that is important for India, it is an election that is important for all of us as we watch what happens here around the world.
The latest world news headlines are just ahead. And much more from New Delhi.
Plus, far away from the streets and the site of Turkey's mine disaster, anger is spilling out onto the street of Istanbul. We're going to tell you how authorities are dealing with that defense. That after this.
ANDERSON: A very good evening. This is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson from New Delhi this evening. The headlines this hour.
The head of the Thai army is warning protesters in Bangkok to avoid violence or he says the military will take action. Overnight, gunmen opened fire on anti-government demonstrators, killing three of them. In a separate incident, protesters stormed an office complex where Thailand's caretaker prime minister was holding a meeting, forcing him to flee.
The captain and three other crew members who fled a South Korean ferry as it sank last month have been charged with murder. If convicted, the four defendants could face the death penalty. The bodies of 284 people have been found since the ship sank on April the 16th. Twenty victims haven't been recovered.
It's been almost 13 years in the making, but the 9/11 memorial museum is finally open at Ground Zero in New York. A ceremony to mark the occasion has just taken place within the last hour. The museum will receive people directly affected by the attacks first and then open its doors to the public next week.
Turkish president Abdullah Gul visited with the victims of the coal mine explosion in western Turkey. He's pledged to conduct a full investigation into the disaster. Nearly 300 miners were killed when a power transformer exploded and sparked a fire. Dozens remain missing.
Let's get you the very latest on that and, indeed, what is going on in Istanbul. From there tonight, journalist Andrew Finkel joining us. Again, Andrew, we made this point throughout the show, and we will continue to make it. There are still men down in that mine. At this stage, it seems, no real hope that they'll be rescued alive, correct?
ANDREW FINKEL, JOURNALIST (via telephone): Yes, that is correct, sadly. We're looking at Turkey's biggest-ever mining disaster. We know that 282 miners have already lost their lives, but we expect that that figure may go much higher as those still underneath the ground are accounted for, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes. All right. Let's talk about how people are reacting to what has happened in his mine and, indeed, more personally, protests against the prime minister. Where is he? What do we know about what he's doing next?
We certainly heard from the president, but booed and jeered, two words that were used or are used to describe just what happened when the prime minister visited that mine on Wednesday.
FINKEL: Yes, well, that was really an extraordinary incident. I think we're sort of -- I think this is a prime minister who is used to having things his own way, he's used to commanding the crowds and commanding with his own record.
But he suddenly found himself in great difficulties yesterday when he went to comfort the miners, understand what was going on in that situation, and found himself the victor of extraordinary anger in that town. His car was kicked by passers by. At one point, he actually had to escape into a supermarket in order to escape the angry crowds.
And there's a great deal of discussion now going on in the Turkish press. People are studying the video to see whether he didn't actually punch a woman while he was in that supermarket, someone who confronted him and --
FINKEL: -- accused him of the murder of his family. But what we do know is that one of his aides actually laid into one of these demonstrators and gave him several kicks while he was on the ground.
So, I think it's become a sort of almost greater aspect of this tragedy, that rather than grief bringing Turkey together, it seems to be pulling it apart, Becky.
ANDERSON: Andrew Finkel for you, live in Istanbul this evening.
Well, we are here in India, where we are waiting for the results of what has been the biggest democratic election in the world. More than 800 million people voted in the national polls, and we should know the outcome on Friday.
Beyond India, these elections being closely watched by the country's friends, its allies, and its neighbors. Not all of those are friends, of course. Our correspondents in the United States, in Pakistan, and in China have been monitoring reaction as these elections have unfolded. Let's begin for you this hour in Washington.
JIM SCUITTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: For Americans, the election is a first reminder that India's the world's largest democracy, and US officials have said repeatedly they have great admiration for what they call a vibrant and diverse political process.
Those shared democratic values form a key basis of the relationship, and so does trade. The world's number one and number three economies do business worth $100 billion a year. And they work together to fight terrorism, particularly groups based in Pakistan.
The relationship is also defined, in part, by India's powerful neighbor China. Washington sees India as a counter-balance to China.
The relationship has been strained most recently by the expulsion of an Indian diplomat in New York and the uncomfortable fact that India's likely prime minister, Narendra Modi, was denied a US visa in 2005 under a little-used religious freedom law.
As a result of this and other disagreements, the Obama administration may be hoping the election is a chance to reset relations with India.
Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.
SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The last time there was a BJP government in New Delhi, India test-fired its first nuclear missile. And Pakistan, under Nawaz Sharif and the PMLN, responded by doing the same, both sides announcing themselves as nuclear neighbors.
But it was the BJP and PMLN that came closest to achieving a peace initiative in Lahore in 1998. This time around, Nawaz Sharif is back in Islamabad, saying he wants serious sustained and constructive engagement with India.
Pakistan's military, too, last year made a huge paradigm shift with its new doctrine fighting homegrown militancy and not India as public enemy number one.
But there are some concerns amongst senior security officials that India is behind and sponsoring an insurgency in the southwestern province of Baluchistan. And both Islamabad and New Delhi are vying for influence over Baltistan, with Kashmir remaining a huge sticking point. Just recently, the chief of army staff of Pakistan saying it's the jugular vein of the country.
But the de facto foreign minister, Sartaj Aziz, tells me no matter who is in power in New Delhi, Pakistan is ready to talk.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm David McKenzie in Beijing. Asia's two biggest giants have a long and complex relationship, even fighting a brief war in 1962 over a border area.
And so, China is watching India's election very closely, especially the front-runner, Narendra Modi. Many people here see him as a potential nationalist who will be very hard on issues of border disputes with China at the negotiating table.
But there's also the business side. In a few short years, China and India might have trade worth $100 billion, and the two countries are very key to each other from a long-term economic standpoint. So, many here feel, regardless of the politics, money will eventually do the talking.
ANDERSON: To explore how India's foreign policy may evolve after the new government comes to power and what New Delhi needs to focus on, I'm joined by CNN's India Bureau Chief, Ravi Agrawal. Ravi, what happens in India doesn't stay in India, of course. The Indian -- or new Indian prime minister may not be going to the US, though, anytime soon.
RAVI AGRAWAL, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, that's absolutely true, Becky. What happens in India doesn't stay here. India's a huge country, it's very important. It's trying to be more. It's trying to punch above its weight in Asia.
Remember, India's been quite insular for some time. For example, India has fewer diplomats than Singapore. So, when I speak to external affairs people here, they always say that India needs to really big its presence up in Asia and around the world.
Now, on the US, that's a very interesting point, because the many that people think could be India's next prime minister, Narendra Modi, he did not get a visa to the United States when he wanted to go there in 2005. Once he becomes prime minister, that could be a problem.
Now, the United States so far has said that once he becomes prime minister, if he is prime minister, then they'll reconsider the issue, most likely they will give him a visa. But it's not the best way to start off relations between the two biggest democracies in the world.
ANDERSON: Fantastic. Ravi Agrawal, thank you very much, indeed. You're India bureau chief. And read more about the global connections tying this story here in India with the rest of the world. Head to cnn.com/international. You'll find this opinion piece by Ravi laying out lessons from India and what can be learned from China's economic policies, cnn.com/international.
And you can join me and the team here in India tomorrow for all the very latest news on the results of this election as they start coming out. A special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD starts 4:00 in London, 7:00 Abu Dhabi time, 8:30 here in New Delhi, only on CNN.
Parting Shots this evening, and we want to take you on a journey across what is this incredible country and show you the diversity of its people through the lens of photojournalist Tom Pietrasik, who spent much of the last ten years traveling across the country. Have a look at these.
TOM PIETRASIK, PHOTOJOURNALIST, WWW.TOMPIETRASIK.COM: India's an incredibly stratified country, whether it's in terms of class, caste, religion, and language. It's difficult to summarize a country as large as India.
And I've always been made to feel very welcome and inquiring into people's lives, photographing people's lives, I'm trying to understand a bit about their experiences. And bringing those experiences to life through photographs.
In the West, I think we have a certain notion of physical space, of how close we allow people to come to us, people we don't know. In India, those rules are slightly different. My sense is that people are more comfortable with having others in their proximity, and that would include a photographer.
I think the difference between the urban middle class, for instance, and the rural poor is such a huge gulf, and I think that has to be acknowledged and it has to be -- resources have to be devoted to the poor in a way that they haven't been in the past.
The argument for growth is always that the benefits will flow downwards and extend to everybody. I don't think -- that's not been my experience in India. I think all too few of the benefits of this growth have been extended to the rural poor. People feel angry that the incumbent government has not been able to meet their need.
ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson, and that was CONNECT THE WORLD from New Delhi this evening. Do stay with us. You can always contact us at facebook.com/CNNconnect, have your say, @BeckyCNN. See you tomorrow.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, HOST: This week on MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, India's six-week marathon election comes to a close. With 814 million eligible voters, it's the world's largest demonstration of democracy. We spoke with some members of the UAE's huge expat community to find out their views on the polls.
And former British prime minister Tony Blair on radical Islam and where Egypt goes after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Welcome to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST. There are more than 2 million Indians living here in the UAE, sending back more than $8 billion each year in remittances. Logistical reasons may stand in the way of them voting, but they have a whole lot to say about this landmark poll.
LEONE LAKHANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was once the heart of Dubai's business activity, Dubai Creek, where boats and barges sail daily, transporting goods and people to ports nearby.
Much of it went to and from India. Over time, it became the United Arab Emirates' largest trading partner. In the 1970s, trade between the two countries amounted to $180 million a year. Today, it's $75 billion.
LAKHANI (on camera): With growing business ties, many Indians moved here in search of work and opportunity. Today, they make up nearly a third of any of the population, outnumbering any other nationality, including UAE citizens. And they contribute to almost every aspect of the economy.
SHEKHAR PATNI, MANAGING DIRECTOR, JEWEL TRADING LLC: This is the silver jewelry.
LAKHANI (voice-over): Shekhar Patni is one of almost 2 million Indians in the UAE, trading in silver, diamonds, and gold bullion. He moved here more than 30 years ago. He decided it was a good place to set up his jewelry business.
PATNI: The culture -- mixed culture of India and the Middle East, this is more important for us. And this is very close to India.
LAKHANI: He says his business is now worth $20 million, with his wife and family firmly rooted here in the UAE. But now, as his native country embraces the outcome of parliamentary elections, he's watching events closely, even though he couldn't vote from overseas.
PATNI: I am the national of India, and I hope to invest something there also if, suppose, I want to go back home.
LAKHANI: So, planning for the future, Patni says he sends a huge portion of his earnings home for his family, business, and investments. He's not alone.
Krishnan Ramachandran runs a wealth management group in Dubai that manages $400 million worth of assets belonging to Indians living in the UAE. The majority is reinvested in India.,
KRISHNAN RAMACHANDRAN, CEO, BARJEEL GEOJIT SECURITIES: It is always the aspiration of any expat Indian coming to this region to save and send as much as possible back home. So, we are, on an average, the target is moving 40 to 50 percent of their earnings here is what they would like to send back home.
LAKHANI: That's because most of his clients intend to go back one day, he says.
MUKESH SHARMA, INVESTOR: I'm in the UAE for the last over ten years. And I've been working in the construction industry. We keep transferring the money through exchanges and all. It plans to grow maybe after two or three years.
LAKHANI: Remittances from overseas Indians like Sharma amounted to $71 billion last year, according to the World Bank, more than any other country in the world. That gives them tremendous economic clout, even without a vote in the elections.
DEFTERIOS: Leone Lakhani getting insight from the Indian community here. Now, an Indian banker's view. V. Shankar is one of the top bankers in the region. He's the regional CEO for Standard Chartered Bank. He joins a long list of Indian expats who have made their way throughout the Middle East. He shares his insights on the Indian election and what needs to be done with the economy.
V. SHANKAR, CEO, STANDARD CHARTERED BANK EMEA & AMERICA: This is an interesting election, John, because you have over 800 million voters, but roughly 20 percent of them are first-time voters. And also roughly half the voters are under the age of 35.
This is a very young population, and if you look at the turnout, it's one of the highest ever, well over 65 percent.
I think this is indicative, reflective of the mood for change. If you take India over the last several years, it's been afflicted with policy paralysis, political drift, slow economic growth, and issues around governance and corruption. And I think the people of India want change.
DEFTERIOS: The growth is less than half what it was in 2010, when they were growing 10 percent a year. The two or three critical ingredients to unlock growth again, and can you get to that level?
SHANKAR: It'll take a while to get. Let's not underestimate the challenges. Mr. Modi does not have a magic wand. He has the momentum. So, it'll take a few years to get it going, but what does he need to do?
Clearly, I think he will be focused on most important, restoring confidence. Indian businessman have not been investing in India. If you look at growth in manufacturing, it's actually been negative for a few quarters. So, restoring confidence in the business community is going to be a very important ingredient of that. Also, restoring confidence among foreign investors.
DEFTERIOS: If you look back at the relationship, for example, between the UAE and India, two things happen simultaneously. The creation of the Jebel Ali Port in Dubai, which fostered the trade, and then the liberalization in India, 1991. Those forces came together, and as a result, the bilateral trade has skyrocketed between the two.
SHANKAR: Unbelievable, isn't it? For UAE, India is its largest trading partner. And for India, UAE is the largest export destination, as well as its second-largest trading partner. That's a sea change from what it was 20, 30 years ago.
But interestingly, the trade is very concentrated in petroleum, precious stones, and gold and jewelry. So there is, I think, scope for more diversification of that.
DEFTERIOS: Many look back now and say, let's stack up China versus India. Same population size, very similar. But that's where it ends, in a sense, right?
SHANKAR: India and China were almost even-Stevens. If anything, India had the edge on China those days. And then they diverged.
If you look at China's GDP today, it's $9 trillion, versus India's $1.8. It's five times. China is growing at north of 7 percent, and India has faltered, the last eight quarters under 5 percent.
The more interesting thing is that China, at a $9 trillion economy growing at 7, 7.5 percent, produces an India every three years. That's phenomenal. I think India can learn a lot from China.
DEFTERIOS: V. Shankar of Standard Chartered Bank sharing his thoughts on the Indian economy. Coming up, what could be the biggest threat to global security and potentially, growth in the region. My interview with former UK prime minister Tony Blair is just ahead.
DEFTERIOS: Welcome back to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST. Last month, British prime minister Tony Blair gave a speech which raised some eyebrows, suggesting that the greatest threat to global security is coming from radical Islam.
We know the impact it's had on the Middle East, for example, in Iraq. More recently, we've seen the threat in Nigeria from Boko Haram. I asked Blair if the world is ill-equipped for radical Islam.
TONY BLAIR, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: We tend to treat each of the arenas in which this Islamism is doing its work as separate, whereas I think yes, there are all sorts of separate, local characteristics, there are issues to do with tradition and history and drive and so on that go to create the problem.
But the unifying element is an ideology based on an abuse of religion, which causes people to act in a fanatical and extreme way, and makes it very hard for countries to make progress where this type of ideology takes root.
And what is necessary is for us to say very clearly that you can be a devout Muslim in the same way you can be a devout Christian or Jew or Hindu, without taking your religion into a position of dominance in politics.
DEFTERIOS: The response in Egypt has been a very heavy one, some 1200 people, now, sent to death row in a reaction to the Muslim Brotherhood. So, that's not inclusive as a response. Is that the only response in the 21st century to crack down that heavily to get stability, or could it have been a different path?
BLAIR: No, look, you've got to have proper judicial process, and you've got to distinguish between those people engaged in violence and those people you disagree with. And I think there are a lot of people in Egypt who think those court decisions can't be justified.
However, the question is whether we're also prepared to combat intellectually, politically, the ideology that I think is really incompatible with the modern world and with proper democratic rights, which is an ideology that is based an exclusivist view of religion. In other words, if you don't share my view of the way religion works, then you're not an equal citizen.
For a country like Egypt, which after all has got 8 to 10 million Christians in it, and a country that is devoutly Muslim, but it's a country that wants to be proud of its traditional values, its ancient civilization, and does not want to be taken over by an ideology like the Brotherhood, which is going to take it in the wrong direction.
When you come to debating this ideology, I think there's a feeling in the West sometimes that the Muslim Brotherhood is kind of like a normal political party, like the Labour Party in Britain, or the Christian Democrats, say, in Germany.
But it isn't. It's essentially an ideological cult or movement that is more, really, akin to the old revolutionary Communist or Fascist parties.
DEFTERIOS: The Gulf States were very quick to support -- almost $20 billion to the interim government in transition right here. Will this come back to haunt those states that backed this government who overthrew the Morsy governments?
BLAIR: What's the best hope of moving the country forward? I think the best hope is to put in place a government and a president that's got genuine popular support. I think this will happen.
And then, for the country, with full international support, to engage in a reform program that changes the way the country works, makes the necessary economic and social reforms, rule of law reforms, that allow Egypt to take its place, as it should be, as one of the great nations of the 21st century.
DEFTERIOS: Former British prime minister and Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair here in Abu Dhabi. And that's all for this edition of CNN MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST. I'm John Defterios. Thanks for watching. We'll see you next week.