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Indian Journal of Politics, Vol. XXXIX, No. 1&2, January-June 2005, pp.

43-58

GEO-RELIGIOUS FOUNDATIONS OF TECHNOLOGICAL COOPERATION AMONG


THE MUSLIM COUNTRIES OF THE INDIAN OCEAN REGION

Mohammed Khalid1

“There is no complete region less than the world” said Halford J. Mackinder in 1937 and in
1943 he held: “Regions can not be accurately delimited, for their boundaries are inevitably zones of
compromise as between limits based on different criteria.” 1 the concept of ‘region’ in geography,
ironically, has suffered from vagueness, relative neglect and lack of an agreed definition.
Generally, ‘region’ is an idea, and a method to study world politics, its divisions on regional
basis are mostly personal preferences, somewhat arbitrary, for the boundaries of the region being
quite ad-hoc. And this idea is so nebulous, so personal and peculiar, that its expression and
concretization can take different shapes. Hence the variety in its definition; “A domain where many
dissimilar beings, artificially brought together, have subsequently adapted themselves to a common
existence” (P. Vidal de la Blache); “An area characterized throughout by similar surface features and
which is contrasted with neighbouring areas”,2 (N.M. Feneman). A distinguished geographer Richard
Hartshorne writes “any regional division is not a true picture of reality, but it is an arbitrary device of
the student… depending on what elements appear to him as most significant.”3
Accordingly, the study of politics and economics of particular geographic regions has long
been in use and one finds in the contemporary terminology the regions referred to as ‘Western
Europe’, the ‘Middle East’, or the ‘Southeast Asia’, and so on. The implication of these
nomenclatures is that the states of such regions are in many respects interdependent and interrelated.
A region is also peculiarized using the criteria of social and cultural homogeneity, political attitudes
on external issues expressed in voting in the United Nations, political interdependence reflected in
participation in inter-governmental organisations, economic interdependence seen in the correlation
between intra-regional trade and national income and, of course, the geographic proximity.4
The configuration of the region is arrived at by mapping the basic attributes of the states in
the area and their major patterns of relations. The stress being upon geography together with the
insights of area specialists sensitive to factors such as consciousness of regional identity, felt culture
and other perceived affinities.5 The geographical setting of a region, “provides us with a basis for
understanding today’s political map and for anticipating change”,6 holds Cohen, and, the geo-political
map is closely attuned to the economic map of a region. A geo-political region “expresses the unity
of geographic features”, and [it] “can provide a framework for common political [and economic]
actions. Contiguity of location and complementarity of resources are particularly distinguishing
marks of the geo-political region...”7

Evolution of Indian Ocean as a Geo-religious Region:

1
Department of Evening Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. e.mail: mdkhalidchd@yahoo.com

1
The expressions like Christian Europe, Muslim Middle East or West Asia are occasionally
found based upon the faith of the majority of the people inhabiting in a contiguous group of
countries. Here in this essay we rest on the fairly well established premise that the Indian Ocean,
since antiquity, had constituted a geopolitical region. Islam provided it a geo-religious character for
centuries and after a brief colonial and cold war interregnum is once again well on its way to
asserting itself.
Geologically, the Indian Ocean basin forms a contiguous mass since the Palaeozoic era.8 The
physical unity and symmetry of its area contrasts with the ‘shapeless vastness’ of the Pacific and the
corridor like form of the Atlantic. And “...considered geographically the Indian Ocean in its main
area... has some of the features of land locked sea.”
The climate of the Indian Ocean region varies from tropical to mild subtropical and its
geography from deserts, lush paddies to freezing chill of Antarctica. And yet, a vital aspect of the
monsoon winds, link very closely large parts of the region giving it the popular description of
“monsoon ocean.” Along with these winds is the feature of surface currents in the Indian Ocean that
describe a set pattern throughout the entire year. The Ocean is “fairly safe for navigation throughout
the year, though in some months the strength of the winds, occasional tropical and cyclonic storms do
pose hazards”.10
The rise of Islam in Arabia in the 7th century was a great happening in the world, and in this
region. Islam could not remain confined to Arabian peninsula for long and within decades it
conquered much of the Middle East. Its appeal spread to East Africa during 9” century where Arab-
Muslim merchants married into local lineages and assumed leadership of tribal coalitions and they
eventually became the elites of the coastal Swahili society.11 In Sudanic Africa, colonies of Muslim
traders became allied with local political elites and induced the rulers of the states there to accept
Islam.12
While Islam gradually engulfed the present day Iraq and Iran it became the new faith of the
Sassanians and eastern parts of Byzantine empire. The chronicles of time mention the presence of
sizeable settlements of Muslim merchants on Malabar coast of India and in the several cities up north
as Indus in the 9th century. Mohammed Ibn-Qasim’s conquest of Sind in North India in the early 8th
century and consequent attraction and conversion to Islam in Sind and beyond are well documented
facts in history.13 Sufis also helped to spread the message of Islam in the interiors of entire South Asia
as elsewhere in the region.14
Islam was first introduced into Indonesia at the end of the 13th century by the merchants and
Sufis from Arabia and India. The appeal of this great religion and the sheer local exigencies
smoothened the way for the spread of Islam in Indonesia and Malaysia.15 The islands in the western
part of the Indian Ocean could also not remain untouched by the Islamic faith.
The pertinent fact is that even though the lands and the people of the Muslim societies on the
littoral and the islands of the Indian Ocean display tremendous geographical, socio-economic, ethnic,
cultural, historical, and other kinds of heterogeneity, the waters of the Ocean and the faith in Islam

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have remained common factors among them. Islam provided them with a new concept of the
universe, ethical rules, legal norms for daily behaviour, and ritual prescriptions for mediating the
relations of human beings with God.
Historically, the linkages and continuous multi-faceted activity on and across the Ocean
goes back to pre-Christian millennia. The leitmotif of all such activities was primarily trade and
commerce and consequent exchange of populations. The major sea-farers and navigators in the
Indian Ocean were the Arabs.16 They traded with Indian ports and even carried their cargo as far east
as China. They also played great intermediaries between Asia and the Europe through trade. The
presence of the formidable Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires also promoted trade activity in the
area. One can also not ignore the significance of the annual practice of performing Hajj among the
Muslims which has been playing a great catalyst in disseminating Islamic knowledge, increasing
Muslim consciousness and solidarity. It also fostered a great trade network among the lands across
the Indian Ocean.17
No other religion has spread so enormously and extensively as Islam in the countries
surrounding the Indian Ocean though there existed massive centers of Hinduism, Buddhism and also
Christianity in the region. One finds the Muslims inhabiting in almost all the littoral countries of the
Indian Ocean and the island states, as shown in Table (1) below.
TABLE - 1
The Muslim Presence in the Countries of the Indian Ocean
Country Muslim Population Country Muslim Population
South Africa Very few Iran 99%
Mozambique 4 million Pakistan 95%
Tanzania 98% in Zanzibar and 1/3 on mainland India 11.2%
Bangladesh 86.6%
Kenya Arab-Muslims Myanmar 3.6%
Somalia Islam is the state religion Thailand 4%
Ethiopia 45% Malaysia 53%
Sudan Majority Indonesia 86.9%
Egypt 90% Maldives Islam is state religion
Jordan Majority Madagascar 7%
Saudi Arabia 99% Mauritius 17%
Yemen Majority Sri Lanka 7.36%
Oman Majority Comoros Majority Muslim
UAE Established religion is Islam
Qatar All Muslim
Bahrain 70% Bahrainis are Muslims
Kuwait 99%
IraQ 100%
Source: THE EUROPA WORLD YEAR BOOK 2000 (London) 2000, VOL. I&II AND
WHITAKER’S ALMANAC 1998, THE STATIONERY OFFICE, LONDON,
1997.

As to which country can be called a Muslim country, there can be varied opinions. Here, for
our convenience, we may take the majority of the population or the largest portion of the population

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adhering to Islam as the criterion. Thus, one can enlist Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan,
Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan,
Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia as the Muslim countries of the Indian Ocean littoral 18 and
Maldives and Comoros as the island states with overwhelming Muslim populations.

Technological Under-development of the Muslim Countries:


Technology broadly signifies the total knowledge and skills available to any human society
for industry, art, and for exploration and utilisation of available resources. In a somewhat narrower
sense, it also means the application of practical or mechanical sciences to industry and commerce. It
may also be defined as the systematic study of the techniques for making and doing things; in that
sense history of technology is history of man.
The human passion to invent new tools and techniques has helped him to create civilisations
and build empires. The birth of a new science and its translation into technology facilitated the
European geographical expansionism around the globe.19 The notable discoveries in Europe,
especially in Britain, in the field of astronomy, mathematics, physics and medicine etc. in the 15th
and 16th centuries, the building of fast sailing ships and improvement in fire power congealed and
consolidated to bring the new “oceanic age”, and later helped to bring the Commercial Revolution,
the Industrial Revolution, and so on.
The European entry into the Indian Ocean --Portuguese, in essence and later followed by the
Dutch, the British, the French and others-- and getting enmeshed in the lucrative trade network
flourishing here made them settle in the region on a permanent basis. Technology played a great role
in the process.
Though by nature technology tends to be cumulative, accelerative, and it diffuses widely and
quite rapidly from the land of its origin, however, this diffusion of European technology was not
allowed to occur in the interaction between Europe and Afro-Asia. It was done deliberately,
systematically and in fulfillment of an elaborate imperial design. The gap between the native and
European technologies increased from about the mid-18th century and widened rapidly. As the second
phase of Industrial revolution (about the mid-19th century) set in, the application of science to
industry accelerated20 and the difference in technologies broadened even faster.
It is a fact that the Muslims did not always lag behind in the scientific endeavour. The
phenominical achievements of Muslim philosophers-scientists, physicians, astronomers,
mathematicians are well recognised by the world. The famous Arab philosopher al-Kindi, in the 9th
century was gifted in physics, mathematics, optics, music and cosmology, Abu Nasr al-Farabi was a
known scholar in Greek philosophy in the 10th century. The eleventh century philosophical and
medical genius Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Ibn Rushd of Muslim Spain, Ibn al Haytham, Thabit Ibn Qurra
were well known mathematicians. Alkhwarizmi gave “algebra” its name, al-Idrisi and Ibn Khaldun
contributed to geography, and al-Razi’s expertise as a physician are just a few of the long list of
intellectuals-philosophers produced by the Muslim world. The Muslims contributed to astronomy and

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invented many astronomical instruments. The fields of architecture, alchemy and esoteric sciences
will always remain indebted to the contribution made by the Muslims.21
The accomplishments of extraordinary achievements in science and literature by Muslims
are testified by the monument of the Taj Mahal, the great mosques of Cairo, Damascus, Istanbul and
Esfahan; by the exquisite miniature paintings telling mythical sagas of Persian and Indian kings; the
fabulous tales of the “Thousand and One Nights”, Omar Khayyam’s Rubayyat, Mathnavi Maulana-e-
Rom are but a few of the celebrated Islamic creations.
The zest, vigour and the edge which certain Muslim countries once enjoyed in science for a
couple of centuries, however, gradually declined. The reasons for such a decline should not detain us
here, but, slowly the formidable Muslim empires (the Mughals, the Safavids and the Ottomans etc.)
weakened and faded away for varied reasons. The Muslim societies slowly paralysed into inertia, and
degenerated into hide-bound, illiterate, poor and scattered societies.
The rising tide of European dominance and their vested interests in the Indian Ocean region
shut out whatever of the indigenous technologies had remained. The Europeans developed most of
the Muslim countries as captive, bountiful markets essentially for the consumer manufacturers from
metropolitan power. With the discovery of oil and other natural resources in the Middle East, the
Europeans (and later joined by the US) became all the more determined to ensure uninterrupted
supply of almost free raw materials for their growing transport systems and industry. They implanted
only such technology here as would serve the imperial design and purpose.
Modern education was not encouraged to spread in the Muslim World. After a long spell of
dominance in these countries, when the European power weakened in the wake of Second World War
(1939-45), they started receding from the region. There were only a few centers of excellence in the
Muslim countries. University of Dhaka (1921) in Bangladesh; al-Azhar and Alexandria, in Egypt;
Tehran University (1934), Esfahan University (1936), Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (1937) and
Petroleum University (1939) in Iran; University of Punjab (1882), Sindh Agricultural University
(1939) in Pakistan; University of Technology (1925) in Malaysia and a few more were the only ones
existing at that time.22
These countries had low literacy rates, high birth and death rates, had no local industry or
the laboratories to carry R & D activity in science and technology. They were agricultural/pastoral
societies facing economic deprivation, low incomes and no infrastructure to harness and develop the
available resources. No viable communication-transportation networks existed. Providing the basic
needs to their people was the biggest challenge they faced for which lacked the required technology.
Most of these countries had unfamiliar, untested and sometimes corrupt and inefficient political
systems; weak, untrained administrative systems and consisted of orthodox, rigid societies, far away
from the scientific temper.
The complex range of colonial legacies, inhering national and sub national tensions and new
post-colonial environment called for these states to concern themselves at once with long neglected
and overdue economic development. To achieve that, they were obliged to create an infrastructure for

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the development of science and technology and for harnessing their resources to meet the basic needs
of the people. This alone, in effect, was likely to enable these states to play their due role in the
affairs of the world-something that had been denied to them during the years of colonial subjugation.

Imperative for Technological Development:


Under the circumstances, the full range or measure of their resource endowment had
remained unknown and untapped. For that the development of appropriate technologies and a
determined effort was to be pressed into service. So, striving to be self-reliant and sturdy in science
and technology, developed indigenously, became the imperative and irresistible compulsion. Most of
the Muslim countries were obliged to import technology, generate and harness it to utilise their
resources so as to make an advance in agricultural and industrial growth, education, health, food and
nutrition, social amenities and overall standard of living. They also required concerned, responsive
and decisive political leaderships to decide upon the import, harnessing and employment of science
and technology for goal attainment. However, in most of the Muslim countries of the region this
simply could not materialise.
Since the required technology was neither available nor could be evolved, most of the
Muslim states of the region turned to the more advanced, and willing countries, who would help on
certain terms and costs. This relationship impregnated their perpetual dependence and possible
subservience to those who provide technology and wherewithal for prosperity and progress through
development.
Developing the infrastructure and a network of science and technology is a slow and time-
consuming process. If the political leadership is not sincere or far-sighted it encourages unscrupulous,
rash and self-promoting components which make the growth sluggish, lopsided and mindlessly
imitative. As a result, leave alone the promotion of self-reliance, the advances in science and
technology actually contribute towards a steady increase in dependence upon those made the models
or sources in this respect. Borrowing technology in this fashion causes simultaneously, the problem
of inappropriateness and augmentation of dependence which in any case is inevitable as a
consequence of globalisation of economy.
The mounting wide-range dependence potentially places these countries in a weak
bargaining position, besides making them vulnerable in many other ways. The North-South
interaction over the past about half a century illustrates it vividly. Muslim countries still remain
dependent (outside the region) for the consumer, transport and communication technologies. The oil
producing countries - those of the Gulf, and the Indonesia in the region, for instance are, to this day,
largely dependent on foreign technology and imported skilled manpower which eventually drains out
hefty sums of revenues they earn from oil exports.
Most of the Muslim countries here are agricultural economies, even the countries producing
oil have substantial workforce engaged in agriculture sector. The climatic and resource conditions in
these countries call for different other kinds of technologies than that developed in the advanced

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industrial societies. However, the technology exporting powers and the MNCs deliberately and
willfully succeed in forcing/selling fancy, capital intensive technologies to these countries and
ironically, they are in no position to resist.
The question to ponder over is weather the ongoing technological dependence should
continue or there is a need for an indigenous effort to develop it within the region and exchange it
among them and also export it to the needy. The glaring fact is that the economies of the Muslim
countries under study in this paper suffer from stagnation.

Techno-economic Scene:
Any effort to break the shackles of dependency necessitates taking a comprehensive and
serious view of human and mineral resource endowment and existing and aspired levels of
technology in the countries under focus. A number of parameters can be used to make such a study
like, the state of economy, GDP growth rates, education - its quantity, and quality - and literacy,
health, civic amenities, the transport and communications; an articulative view of the shape of
agriculture, industry and manufacturing and service sectors; the infrastructure like roads, railways,
bridges, electricity, telephone lines etc; and of course the laboratories and research institutions etc.
The Table (2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) below give certain indications, and are based on the available data:

Table – 2
The Economic Indicators of Muslim Countries of the Region
Country GDP Exports Imports Trade Total external %age of people
growth Million US$ 1997 surplus or debt $ million below poverty
1990-98 deficit 1998 line
Bangladesh 4.8 5,069 7,677 D 16,376 35
Egypt 4.2 16,171 18,296 D 31,964 -
Ethiopia 4.9 1,017 1,683 D 10,352 -
Indonesia 5.8 63,238 62,830 S 1,50,875 15
Iran 4.0 23,251 18,072 S 14,391 -
Jordan 5.4 3,572 5,186 D 8,484 -
Kuwait 16,041 12,876 S - -
Malaysia 7.7 92,897 91,521 S 44,773 -
Oman - - - - 3,629 -
Pakistan 4.1 9,956 14,677 D 32,229 34
Saudi 1.6 64,939 52,399 S - -
Arabia
Sudan - - - - 16,843 -
Yemen 3.8 2,522 3,000 D 4,138 19
Source: WORLD DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2000, pp. 250-51 (FOR GDP), pp. 248-50 (FOR
EXTERNAL DEBT)

Table – 3
Public Expenditure on Education and Defence by the Muslim Countries
in the Region
Countries Pub. Expenditure Adult illiteracy % Countries Defence
on education % of of people 15 yrs. expenditure % of

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GNP 1996 And above 1997 GNP
M F
Bangladesh 2.9 50 73
Bangladesh 1.4
Egypt 4.8 35 60
Egypt 2.8
Indonesia 1.4 9 20
Indonesia 2.3
Iran 4.0 19 34
Iran 3.0
Jordan 7.3 8 18
Jordan 9.0
Kuwait 5.7 17 23
Kuwait 7.5
Malaysia 5.2 10 19
Malaysia 2.2
Pakistan 3.0 45 75
Pakistan 5.7
Saudi Arabia 5.5 19 38
Saudi Arabia 14.5
Yemen 6.5 36 79
Yemen 8.1
Iraq 4.9
UAE 6.9
Oman 26.1
Source: WORLD DEVELOPMENT REPORT 1999-2000, pp. 240-41; WORLD DEVELOPMENT
INDICATORS 2000 (WORLD BANK) p. 284-86.

Table – 4
Health Indicators of the Muslim Countries of the Region
Countries Child nutrition Public % of population Under 5 yrs. Life expectancy
% of children expenditure on without access Mortality rate at birth 1997
under 5 health % of to safe water per 1000
yrs.1992-97 GDP 1990-97 1995 1997 M F
Bangladesh 56 1.2 16 104 58 58
Egypt 15 1.7 16 66 65 68
Indonesia 34 0.7 35 60 63 67
Iran 16 1.7 10 35 69 70
Jordan 10 3.7 02 35 69 73
Kuwait 11 3.5 - 13 74 80
Malaysia 20 1.4 11 14 70 75
Pakistan 38 0.8 38 136 61 63
Saudi - 6.4 07 28 69 72
Arabia
Yemen 29 1.3 61 137 54 55
Source: WORLD DEVELOPMENT REORT 1999-2000, pp. 232-33 and 242-43.

Table – 5
State of Science and Technology in the Muslim Countries of the region
Countries Expenditure on Scientists and Technicians in High technology
R&D, % of GNP engineers in R&D per million exports % of mfg
R&D per million people of 1987- exports 1997
people 1987-97 97
Bangladesh 0.03 52 33 -
Egypt 0.22 459 341 07
Indonesia 0.07 182 - 11
Iran 0.48 560 166 -
Jordan 0.26 94 10 26
Kuwait 0.16 230 71 04
Malaysia 0.24 93 32 67
Pakistan 0.92 72 13 04
Source: WORLD DEVELOPMENT REPORT 1999-2000, pp. 266-67; WORLD DEVELOPMENT
INDICATORS 2000, pp. 304-06

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Table – 6
Communication and Information Indicators in the Muslim Countries
in the region (Per 1000 People)
Countries Daily news Radios TV sets Telep- Mobile Personal
papers 1996 1996 1997 hones telephones computers 1997
1997 1997
Bangladesh 9 50 7 3 - -
Egypt 38 316 127 56 - 7.3
Ethiopia 02 194 05 03 - -
Indonesia 23 155 134 25 05 8.0
Iran 24 237 148 107 04 32.7
Jordan 45 287 43 70 02 8.7
Kuwait 376 688 491 227 116 82.9
Malaysia 163 432 166 195 113 46.1
Pakistan 21 92 65 19 01 4.5
Saudi 59 319 260 117 17 43.6
Arabia
Yemen 15 64 273 13 01 1.2
Source: WORLD DEVELOPMENT REPORT 1999-2000, pp. 266-67.

The economic scene (table 2) displays that these countries have moderate or slow rate of
economic growth and, except the oil producing countries, they have negative balance of payments.
Many suffer from huge external debts and a good part of revenues go to the debt repayment. In the
countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan, a third of the population still lives below poverty line and
have no access to even the basic needs - food, clothing and shelter. Indonesia and Yemen too have
20% of their population as poor and deprivated.
The expenditure on education (Table 3) is abysmally low in some countries. Ironically, they
spend huge amounts on defence while a large section of their population can not afford even the
elementary education. There is a wide disparity in the literacy and education levels among the
females as compared to their male counterparts.
The state of health of any country depends on the availability of quality health services at
affordable costs. These countries have notable differences in life expectancy and mortality rates.
Similarly, the available data reveals that these countries spare very less for R&D in science and
technology (Table 5) and have less proportion of trained scientists and technocrats.
The Tables included here, by no means, bring out the total economic and technological
picture of these countries. For that, more intensive as well as extensive survey of these countries is
required to be done. However, the Tables give a glimpse of the state of affairs in these countries in
certain regards and the prevalent disparities among them.

Potential for Cooperation:


The conditions and capabilities of the Muslim states of the region impinge upon them to
share their common aspirations of; (a) rapid economic development and self-reliance (b)

9
modernisation to improve both the quality of life at home and a brighter image abroad; and the
aspiration to play their due and active role in the affairs of the world. Though there are other
compulsions too that determine their content, intent and conduct vis-à-vis each other. For instance,
the territorial or boundary disputes/disagreements between Ethiopia and Somalia, Bahrain and Iran,
Bahrain and Qatar (Hawar Islands), Iran and Iraq, Iraq and Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia and
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan etc. have the potential to hinder the efforts for
cooperation. Such conflicts between the immediate neighbours and other areas of disagreement
should not detract them from the essential truth – the techno-economic development and cooperation.
In the light of the compelling need for economic development, it is necessary for these
countries to prepare the ground --individually and collectively-- to import, adapt and generate
appropriate technologies conducive to their needs and resources. The sharing of technology will also
strengthen the trade network among them, which is not very encouraging at the moment.
Another important dimension of cooperation is the Indian Ocean --its water, and its bed--
and the Antarctica, which covers 13,900,000 sq km and defines the southern limits of the Indian
Ocean. As the resources on the land are fast depleting and may not last long, the only reserves of
natural resources which remain hitherto untouched shall be the Ocean bed and Antarctica. The Indian
Ocean bed is known to have millions of tons of manganese and polymetalic nodules. Its waters are
rich in minerals which can be extracted. The countries like US, France, Britain and India are
investing millions of US dollars to develop commercially viable technologies. It is certainly a
potential area of cooperation for the Muslim countries of the region.
Similarly, the Antarctica, the continent wholly overlain by a continental sheet of 90% of
world’s ice, water, in the form of pure ice, is totally uninhabited continent’s most abundant resource.
Metals like antimony, chromite, tin, zinc, copper and gold are believed to be present here. It is also
believed to have one of the world’s most extensive coal fields. There is little chance of early
exploration and exploitation of these resources because of lack of appropriate technology and also
because mankind just can not afford to disturb the ecological balance on this continent. However, it is
a huge natural laboratory where capable nations are doing the pure science research.27 Muslim
countries can collaborate to develop Antarctic sciences and technologies for the future. Hitherto no
Muslim country has a permanent research station on this icy continent.
Though there have been efforts to promote cooperation among the Muslim countries in
various fields in the past, such efforts usually have not involved all the Muslim countries of the
region. The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD); Arab Monetary Fund,
Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Council of Arab Economic Unity, Economic
Cooperation Organisation League of Arab States, OAPEC etc., are cases in point. However the
Islamic Development Bank and the Organisation of Islamic Conference are broad based in their
character, membership and efforts.
In this fast changing world, the Muslim countries are currently grappling with the complex
task of adjusting to the changing context of emerging globalism and, at the same time, to the rapid

10
evolution of modern economic regionalism. For them, cooperation among themselves has become a
precondition for their development and mutual prosperity. Sooner they realise it the better. Various
groupings for regional economic cooperation are already in place like the EEC, the North American
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), SAARC Preferential Trade Arrangements (SAPTA) etc. are
jostling for regional economic cooperation.
The Countries of the Pacific have initiated cooperation through forums like, the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation, Pacific Community, Pacific Islands Forum. There are arrangements for
cooperation among the countries of the Baltic (Council of Baltic Sea States --CBSS) and the Black
Sea (Organisation of Black Sea Economic Co-operation). Similarly, we conclude, that the economic
and technological cooperation among the Muslim countries of the Indian Ocean also has the potential
to blossom and spread.

References:
1. W.H. Parker, Geography As An Aid to Statecraft (Oxford, Clarendon Press) 1992,
PP.127,131-32.
2. Roger Minshull, Regional Geography, Theory and Practice (London, Hutchinson University
Library) 1971, p.18.
3. Cited in Ference A. Vali, Politics of the Indian Ocean Region, The Balance of Power (New
York, Free Press) 1976, pp.14, 31.
4. See, Werner J. Feld, & G. Boyd, Comparative Regional Systems (New York, Pergamon)
1980, pp.3-4.
5. Ibid., p.4
6. Saul B. Cohen, Geography and Politics in a World Divided (London, OUP) 1975, pp.63-64.
7. Ibid., pp.64-65.
8. See, A. Wegener, The Origin of Continents and Oceans (New York, Dover Pub.) 1966, pp.
62-64; T.S.S. Rao & Ray C. Griffiths, Understanding the Indian Ocean Perspectives on
Oceanography (UNESCO) 1998, pp. 61-74.
9. K.M. Panikkar, India and the Indian Ocean (Bombay) 1971, p.19.
10. N. Balakrishnan Nair, “Indian Ocean, A New Frontier for Food and Wealth”, ICIOS II Vol.
F, Perth, Dec. 1984, p.7.
11. Ira M. Lapidus. A History of Islamic Societies (Cambridge University Press) 1989, p.250.
12. Ibid., p.249.
13. Syed Abdul Quddus, Sindh, The Land of Indus Civilisation (Karachi, Royal Book Co.),
pp.66-87; Ram Amarlal Panjwani and S.K. Mansukhani, Sindh, The Land of Hope and
Glory (New Delhi, Haranand Publications), pp.97-117.
14. See, Nikki R. Keddie, Scholars, Saints and Sufis Muslim Religious Institutions in the Middle
East Since 1500 (University of California Press) 1972; Menahem Milson (An abridged
translation and introduction by) A Sufi Rule for novices (Harvard University Press) 1975;

11
Richard Maxwel Easton, Sufis of Bijapur 1300-1700, Social Roles of Sufis in Medieval India
(Princeton University Press) 1978; Saiyid Akhtar Abbas Rizvi, A History of Sufism in India
(Delhi, Munshi Ram Manohar La!) 1983.
15. Islam appealed to the rulers of small coastal and riverian Principalities who had close
trading contacts with the Muslims and intense revelries with Indonesian and Chinese traders.
Acceptance of Islam by local merchant princes won them social and administrative support
and entry into extensive trading network. The spread of Islam in coastal regions of Malaya
and Indonesia was also closely related to the formation of new small states based upon trade.
Portuguese and later Dutch intervention in the Indies further stimulated the acceptance of
Islam. The struggle against the Portuguese and the Dutch made them accept Islam as a bond
of solidarity in resistance to the efforts of Christian powers to establish trading monopolies.
See, Lapidus, Op. Cit., p.249.
16. The discussion in this regard is based upon, Ashin Das Gupta, “Indian Merchants and the
Trade in the Indian Ocean, Circa 1500-1750” in Raychaudhuri, Tapan and lrfan Habib
(eds.), Cambridge Economic History of India, 1200-1750 (Cambridge) Vol. 1, 1982, pp.407-
33; Niels Steensgaard, “The Indian Ocean Network and the Emerging World Economy,
Circa 1500-1750” in Satish Chandra (ed), The Indian Ocean, Explorations in History,
Commerce and Politics (New Delhi, Sage) 1987, pp.28-29.
17. Ziauddin Sardar and M.A. Zaki Badawi, Hajj Studies, London (Croom Helm).
18. Afghanistan is a land locked Muslim country dependent for its trade and commerce on
Indian Ocean through Pakistan. The country has been ripped apart by the internecine war
going on for the last more than 20 years. It is essentially tribal society. The country can also
be included in the list here.
Egypt, known more as a Mediterranean State, has a coastline of 1,368 km along the Gulf of
Aqaba and the Red Sea is an Indian Ocean State. See, World Mark Encyclopedia of Nations,
Africa (New York) 1984, p.77.
19. The progress and power of Industrial technology helped European domination and
exploitation of Africa and much of Asia. In the year 1800 Europeans occupied or controlled
35% of the land surface of the world; by 1878 it reached to 67% and by 1914 over 84% of
the world land areas was European dominated. See, Daniel R. Headrick, The Tools of
Empire, Technology and European Imperialism in the 19th Century, (OUP), 1981, p.3.
20. The advance in chemical and metallurgical industries electricity and gasoline which
competed and then outsmarted steam as the source of power, extensive development of
railway and steamship revolutionized the transportation just as telegraph, cable, telephone
and wireless did to communication. For details of this discussion see, Howard R. Turner,
Science in Medieval Islam (OUP), 1999; P.M. Holt et. al. (ed.), The Cambridge History of
Islam, Vol. 2B (Cambridge University Press) 1970, pp.741-799.
21. Turner, Op. Cit.

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22. Extracted from, The World of Learning 2000 (Europe Publications) 1999.
23. Pack Howard, “Appropriate. Industrial Technology : Benefits and Obstacles”, Annals,
APPSS, No.458, November 1981, pp.27-40.
24. For details see, Alan J. Day (ed.), Border and Territorial Disputes (London, Longman)
1982.
25. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, 1989, Vol. 9, p.312; S.Z. Qasim, “The
Oceans; The Future Hope of Mankind” in Satish Chandra et al (ed.), The Indian Ocean and
its Islands, Strategic, Scientific and Historical Perspective (New Delhi, Sage) 1993, pp.31-
39.
26. India has already been given the status of “pioneer investor” and allotted an area of 55,000
sq.kms. in the Indian Ocean for deep sea mining and exploration. See, India, 1984, a
reference Annual (New Delhi, Publication Division, Ministry of Information and
Broadcasting) 1984, pp.111-12.
27. For the exploration of Antarctica, its resources, politics and research activities, see, Peter J.
Beck, The International Politics of Antarctica (London, Croom Helm) 1986; Trever
Hatherton (ed.), Antarctica (London, Mathuen & Co.) 1965; Frank Deben Ham, Antarctica,
the Story of a Continent (New York, Macmillan) 1961.

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