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Prelims Capsule

International Relations

PM Modi hosted first India-Central Asia Summit

PM Modi hosted first India-Central Asia Summit


  • GS 2 || International Relations || India & Rest of the World || Central Asia

Why in the news?

In their first-ever summit meeting held India and  the five Central Asian countries have decided to form a joint working group on Afghanistan, While agreeing to a “common approach” when dealing with  the Taliban regime there.

History of India and Central Asia relationship:

  • Parts of these regions were occupied by ancient kingdoms such as the Kushana Empire. These historical and civilizational ties have influenced religion and society in a variety of ways.
  • These ties were deepened in the middle Ages with the arrival of Islam and the subsequent establishment of Muslim authority in India, with many of the kings hailing from Central Asia.
  • Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan make up modern-day Central Asia.
  • Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, all five Central Asian countries became independent.

Significance of the Summit for India

  • Geo-Political Dynamics:
    • The summit exemplifies the emphasis that India’s and Central Asia’s leaders place on a comprehensive and long-term India-Central Asia collaboration.
    • It comes at a crucial time when tensions between the West and Russia, as well as the United States (US) and China, are on the rise.
    • Following President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India, which may have allowed India to push Russia to moderately balance China in Eurasia and contain the dangers from Afghanistan, India has experienced geopolitical setbacks as well: border tensions with China and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
    • The recent instability in Kazakhstan also demonstrated that “new forces” are fighting for power in the area, albeit their motivations remain unclear..
  • Trade:
    • All five Central Asian governments have historically had great diplomatic relations with India, and Indian Prime Ministers have visited them, notably Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015. Despite this, India’s trade with them in 2019 was barely USD 1.4 billion.
    • To engage with the area, India joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2017. However, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is merely a sluice gate to moderate the subconscious rivalry between Russia and China, preventing either country from dominating the region.
    • Russia frequently employs the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to manage India-China relations.
  • Security:
    • The summit represents a significant step forward for India’s diplomacy. The summit will have a cascading effect, facilitating India’s multidimensional approach to the region, as the area is a vital lynchpin in its security policy.

Present scenario of India-Central Asia Relation:

  • With the rehabilitation of Chabahar port, the construction of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), and membership in the Ashgabat Agreement, India has made great progress recently.
  • India strengthens bilateral connections through the use of soft power and its widespread acceptance in Central Asia.
  • India strengthens historical links with the region through cultural activities such as classical dance, music, Bollywood cinema, yoga, literature, and educational initiatives.
  • The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Program provides technical support and training to India’s top institutions in fields including banking, remote sensing, and information technology.

Importance of Central Asia for India:

  • Economic and geopolitical interest: In Central Asia, India has a wide range of interests, including security, energy, and economic potential. Central Asia connects Asia and Europe, making it a geopolitically important region for India. Central Asia’s security, stability, and prosperity are critical for India’s peace and economic growth.
  • Abundance of natural resources: Natural resources like petroleum, natural gas, antimony, aluminum, gold, silver, coal, and uranium are abundant in the region and may be used to meet India’s energy needs.
  • Huge cultivable regions in Central Asia lie fallow and unused, providing tremendous potential for pulse cultivation. Commercial agro-industry can be established by Indian agribusiness businesses.
  • Infrastructure development: Several locations have grown desirable for the building industry as a result of increased economic growth, giving significant opportunities for Indian financial services firms, contractors, engineers, and management professionals.
  • Convergence of belief and ideas on global issues: Both India and the Central Asian Republics (CARs) have many similarities and perspectives on regional and global concerns, and may play a critical role in regional stability.
  • Development projects: In order for India to exploit Chabahar as a crucial gateway to Eurasian markets and to best operationalize its usage, a Central Asian state must become a direct participant in the project.
  • Pathway to global market: Central Asian regions are quickly being connected to the global market for production, raw material supply, and services. They’re also becoming more integrated into the East-West Trans-Eurasian transportation economic corridors.

Indian- Central Asian Region cooperation:

  • Cooperation in commercial farming: Food security is a major issue in Central Asia, and Indian experience in this area might be a game changer for the region. Another significant area where India and CARs may collaborate is commercial farming.
  • Shanghai Cooperation Organization: India’s experience with the green and white revolutions in raising food and milk production and upgrading agro-techniques can be a cure for Central Asia. Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the major cooperation done between India and CARs
  • Good connections with India would ensure that these nations have a reliable market for their energy, raw materials, oil and gas, uranium, minerals, hydroelectric power, and other products.
  • Infrastructure, hospitality, and medicine: In industries like infrastructure, hotels, and medicine, India has the potential to attract significant international investment as well as technological talent.
  • India has the potential to attract considerable international investment as well as technological talent in fields such as infrastructure, hospitality, and medicine.

Challenges in India and Central Asia Relations:

  • Access to China: China plays a key role in the foreign policies of various Central Asian countries. Furthermore, these countries are becoming increasingly reliant on China in terms of economic relations.
  • Russia’s perspective: Russia has a stronghold in these countries as a former member of the Soviet Union. India’s policies have appeared to favour the United States in recent years. The presence of Russia and China in such a situation will have an impact on India’s relations with these countries.
  • Terrorism: Some elements of these countries supported terrorist organisations. These countries, on the other hand, are currently aiding India in its anti-terrorism efforts.
  • Projects delayed by India: As shown most recently with Iran’s train project, India’s reluctance to execute projects on schedule after signing them causes a slew of problems.
  • Look East policy: India’s “Look East” strategy has resulted in a concentration of the country’s economic and diplomatic resources on Southeast and East Asia.
  • China intervention: While China’s participation in Central Asia through the Belt and Road Initiative offers India convenient access to the region, it also poses a danger to India’s regional dominance.

What more can be done to improve the relationship?

  • In several fields, it is widely acknowledged that the CAR and India have not properly utilised each other’s resources.
  • India is rapidly reaching its goal of becoming a regional power, which necessitates a steady supply of fuel and energy, both of which the CAR can provide.
  • A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is needed, with the potential to increase trade from $10 billion to $170 billion.

Way ahead:

  • India must first correct its big-picture perception of the area. India’s civilisational effect is undeniable in Central Asia.
  • The Ferghana Valley was India’s Great Silk Road crossing site. From here, Buddhism spread throughout Asia.
  • With the exception of Russia, Central Asia has no defined policy toward any country. They are wary of China, notwithstanding their hazy strategic ideas.
  • They do, however, have strong economic relations with China, but India has little or no economic dependence on them.
  • With the exception of Russia, Central Asia has no defined policy toward any country. They are wary of China, notwithstanding their hazy strategic ideas.
  • They do, however, have strong economic relations with China, but India has little or no economic dependence on them.
  • The region’s hostile attitude against Pakistan is fading, perhaps due to gradual Islamization of the populace or possibly due to Russia’s altered attitude toward Pakistan.
  • The popular imagination of “Hindustan” and the people’s longstanding passion for Bollywood could be significant factors in enhancing the relationship. India’s soft power, however, is dwindling as a result of generational shifts. This has to be stopped. Apart from commerce, the existing ill-defined goals of reconstructing India can only be replaced by a value-driven cultural strategy. Bonds from Central Asia.

Mains oriented question:

China is using its economic linkages and advantageous trade surplus to establish a potential military power position in Asia. Consider what this remark means for India as a neighbour. (250 words)