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Prelims Capsule

International Relations

India Central Asia Relations & its impact on Geopolitics & Energy Security

India Central Asia Relations & its impact on Geopolitics & Energy Security


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

Why in the news?

The relationship between India and Central Asia has a long history. In terms of people-to-people interaction, trade, and business, the two areas have had strong cultural ties for over two millennia.

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.

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.
  • Same perspective on global concerns: 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: India has the potential to attract considerable international investment as well as technological talent in fields such as infrastructure, hospitality, and medicine.
  • 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: In the foreign policies of several Central Asian nations, China plays a significant role. Moreover, in terms of economic relations, these countries are increasingly reliant on China.
  • Russia’s perspective: As a former member of the Soviet Union, Russia has a stronghold in these nations. In recent years, India’s policies have appeared to favor the United States. The participation between Russia and China in such a circumstance will have an impact on India’s ties with these nations.
  • Terrorism: Terrorist organizations were sponsored by some elements of these countries. However, these nations are currently assisting India in its fight against terrorism.
  • Projects delayed by India: Many issues occur as a result of India’s failure to complete projects on time after signing them, as witnessed most recently with Iran’s rail project.
  • Look East policy: As a result of India’s “Look East” strategy, the country’s economic and diplomatic resources have been concentrated towards Southeast and East Asia.
  • China intervention: While China’s involvement in Central Asia in the shape of the Belt and Road Initiative presents an opportunity by allowing India easy access to the area, it also threatens India’s regional dominance.

What more can be done to improve the relationship?

  • It is widely acknowledged that the CAR and India have not fully used each other’s resources in many industries.
  • India is quickly approaching its objective of becoming a regional power, which needs a constant supply of fuel and energy, which the CAR can readily offer.
  • A Free Commerce Agreement (FTA) between India and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is required, with the potential to boost trade to $170 billion from the current level of $10 billion.

Way ahead:

  • India should pay close attention to its ancient Silk Route links with Central Asia and strive to tap into the region’s mostly untapped energy potential.
  • India has to make better use of its economic influence in order to strengthen connections with Central Asia.
  • The ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy is a broad initiative that encompasses political, security, economic, and cultural cooperation.
  • India should make attempts to increase multilateral engagement with Central Asian countries by using existing venues such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC), and others.
  • Relaxing visa regulations, building schools and colleges, boosting tourism, and investing in the agriculture sector may all help India enhance its standing in the area.
  • Growing synergies between India and the Central African Republic will benefit all nations’ security, stability, economic progress, and development.

Mains oriented question:

China is developing a prospective military power position in Asia by leveraging its economic connections and favorable trade surplus. Discuss the implications of this remark for India as a neighbor. (250 words)