Jaisalmer: Indian Army and Egyptian Army's joint exercise known as Cyclone 2023 has commenced its special heliborne operations at Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.

Taking to Twitter, the Additional Directorate General of Public Information said, "Exercise #Cyclone 2023 #SpecialForces troops of #IndianArmy and #EgyptArmy exercised Special Heliborne Operations during the ongoing joint exercise at #Jaisalmer."

It is pertinent to mention that Cyclone 2023 is the first-ever exercise that took place between the special forces of the Indian Army and the Egyptian Army.

The 14-day-long exercise which is being carried out in the deserts of Rajasthan engages both the contingents to advance special forces skills such as Sniping, Combat Free Fall, Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Designation, sharing of information on weapons, equipment, innovations, tactics, techniques and procedures.

The participants would also undertake joint planning and drills for Special Forces operations in a mechanised warfare setting as well as surgical strikes on terrorist camps/hideouts to include sniping of High-Value Targets.

India and Egypt, two of the world's oldest civilizations, have enjoyed a history of close contact from ancient times. With a population of around 110 million, a location that straddles Africa and Asia, and a capital that hosts the League of Arab States, Egypt is a pivotal player in development. It is also a country with which India enjoyed an exceptionally close relationship since immediately after its Independence. This is only natural, as the two countries were cofounders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in the 1950s.

India and Egypt are being brought even closer together by the Covid pandemic and following the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Both countries have also demonstrated mutual goodwill by helping each other at crucial times in the past.

Egypt's timely dispatch of 300,000 doses of Remdesivir in May 2021 during the devastating second wave of Covid-19 that hard hit India was well appreciated by all the Indians, and was reciprocated with the supply of wheat in 2022 to tide over the supply-side disruptions in Egypt which are world's largest importer of wheat.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has threatened Egypt with a shortage of wheat, 80 per cent of which is imported from Russia and Ukraine. Subsequently, the Egyptian Cabinet announced the inclusion of India in the list of accredited countries to supply wheat to Egypt in 2022 and this given impetuous for enhancing bilateral engagements.

Egypt's economic growth accelerated from 2017 through 2019 but slowed in 2020 and 2021, adversely impacted by multiple global shocks. Now, Egypt could give a fillip to economic recovery by partnering with emerging economies like India. Egypt could find a much more reliable partner for development in India without hampering its sovereignty, or ideology but with assured economic progress on the lines of trust, friendship and cooperation for the well-being of all.

The ambitious plan to develop the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE) into a global manufacturing hub is now gathering critical mass. Attractive tax incentives, the strategic location and free trade agreements that make it easy to access the European markets are key factors behind such a major investment. India can make use of these investment opportunities. Indian firms could invest in the SEZ with requisite incentives.

Egypt can collaborate with India in the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The role of ICT in developing the national economy of India has attracted Cairo's attention. The sector contributes about 8 per cent of the total GDP in India. This high growth in the IT sector is the result of public-private participation, especially the Indian government's efforts to support education and training, and encourage entrepreneurship in the fields of information and communication technology.

The recent visit of Amr Talaat, Minister of Communications and Information Technology to India reflects Cairo's intention in seeking cooperation with the Indian information technology sector. Egypt seeks cooperation with India in the field of communications and information technology, especially in areas related to digital transformation, the electronics industry, building digital capabilities for youth, research and development, and cyber security.

"Egypt and India are progressively emerging as ideal strategic and economic partners, with potential cooperation in defence, security, counter-terrorism, industrialisation, pharmaceuticals, and food security. India exempted Egypt from its recent wheat ban, and the two nations expanded their cooperation in pharmaceuticals," says Mohammed Soliman, an Egyptian analyst who is currently a manager at McLarty Associates, a global strategy firm based in Washington, and a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute.