India-Yemen : Rich History of intense contacts
India and Yemen have a long history of people-to-people contacts dating back to historical times. Yemeni traders were intermediaries for Indian trade with the Roman Empire. Subsequently, the contacts were intensified with the Haj route from India running through Yemen, particularly Aden and Mocha.
In 1839, Aden became part of the British Empire and was administered by the Bombay Presidency. A garrison of 2000 Indian soldiers was established in Aden and the Indian Rupee was made the official currency. In 1855, a fortnightly steamer service with Bombay was initiated by Peninsular and Orient Line. Mr M.Visvesvaraya, one of the greatest engineers of India, was sent by the British to Aden in 1906 to lay out an effective underground drainage system and to prepare a scheme for providing drinking water.
NetajiSubhash Chandra Bose visited Aden in 1919 and 1935. Mahatma Gandhi, accompanied by Sarojini Naidu and PanditMadan Mohan Malviya, visited Aden on September 3, 1931, on his way to London to participate in the Second Round Table Conference, during which he was given a warm reception by the people of Aden.
The Aden administration was separated from India in April 1937 with the appointment of a Governor directly reporting to London. An Indian diplomatic mission at the level of Commissioner was set up in Aden in June 1950. The Indian Embassy in Sa’naa was established in 1970.
A large number of Indian nationals, including Hindus, Muslims and Parsis, had lived in Aden since mid-1880s. One such prominent person was CowasjeeShavakshaDinshawAdenwalla, who migrated from Surat to Aden in 1855. He was the founder of the Fire Temple in Aden. Many of the Indian traders later embraced the Yemeni nationality and settled down in Aden, engaging in trade and commerce. It is estimated that the Indians in Aden numbered 8,563 in 1856 and gradually increased to 15,817 in 1955. DhirubhaiAmbani, the founder of the now famous Reliance Group, also started his career as a trader in Aden. His son MukeshAmbani was also born in Aden on April 19, 1957.
At the same time, thousands of people of Yemeni origin, mainly from Hadramaut, migrated to India and settled down mainly in the city of Hyderabad. These age-old ties between India and Yemen are reflected now by the presence of around 300,000 strong Yemeni-origin Diaspora in India and a vibrant Indian-origin Diaspora in Yemen.
The Bank of India opened its branch in Aden in 1954 and remained as the only Indian bank in the country until its incorporation by the National Bank of Southern Yemen in 1970, which is now the National Bank of Yemen.
Today, the two countries share close and friendly ties, with significant economic interest in various fields and a bilateral trade of over US$ 3.25 billion.