5) Critically analyse the nature of India’s engagement and its mutual cooperation with the Central Asian countries and also comment if its ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy has lived up to its expectations.

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Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

5) Critically analyse the nature of India’s engagement and its mutual cooperation with the Central Asian countries and also comment if its ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy has lived up to its expectations. (200 Words)

The Hindu

The Hindu


The Diplomat

  • sri

    India shares close relationship with the central asian countries both historically and culturally.however the relationship has not made an great stride unlike apart from regular economic cultural and trade exchanges.The central Asian countries have a made a great economic and trade progress post the cold war era. Being a land locked region it has the major trade activity with the Russian and other trans-Eurasian countries. From India’s perspective the relation ship with the SA countries will provide a great advantage to India in both strategic and economic perspective.

    1: Indian currently being 4th largest energy consumer in the world needs energy to maintain the momentum in the growth rate. Here comes the importance of TAPI Project which is aimed to achieve exactly the same.Recent conflict in Yemen makes the middle east countries volatile.

    2.INSTC should be in top priority to counter the Chinese One road one belt initiatiative. Increase in strategic partnership considering india already has AF base in unzbekistan. Increaset multilateral Trade. Win WIN situation for CA countries and to opening of trade route for South Asian countries with the Central.

    3:Alternate trade route to afghanistan and CA countries via Iran’s chahbar port.India already pledged 100M dollars in the port .Strategically important to counter chinese led development of port near chahbar in pakistan.

    4.More the trade cascades to tourism and hence increase in people to people contact leading to deep ties and more economic co-operation..Huge potential for Indian industry in CA countries in areas of telecom etc.

    Hence the need of the hour is to do more and have a Proactive approach in the engagement with CA countries.If these projects are realized, soon there will be enhanced economic ,Strategic & multilateral close ties with the CA countries and that will give India a long term advantage both strategically and economically.Hence the visit to CA countries by our PM by breaking the protocol become much more important and a step in right direction.

    • El Magick

      I am not sure if the PM is breaking the protocol given that the meeting will take place in the BRICS and SCO context.

      Otherwise, you’ve covered most ground. the land-locked point is an important one. Thanks!

  • Aj

    Historically, India has had great relations with Central Asia. It was the gateway for India towards Europe. Trade and movement of people was extravagant. Some of India’s rulers even came from that region. In modern time especially since the British rule and partition, India’s relations with Central Asia have taken a back seat. Though ties with Soveit Russia of which Central Asian countries were part was high, specific interaction was low.

    Post the soviet breakdown, India was more focussed on East Asia and relations with super powers. Central Asia did not look large in foreign policy. However, changing geopolitics, indian economy, and the potential of these countries has made India change its policy. Central Asia is rich in minerals and energy resources. Their proximity to Russia and China and their location connecting west and the east and North and south of the continental mass give them strategic importance.

    Since the launch of the ‘Connect East policy’, high level engagement has increased. Cooperation in energy, mineral exploitation has been intitiated. India is looked at as a benign country and a balanced to Russia and Chinese influence. India’s expertise in higher education, technology, services, pharmaceuticals is attractive to these nations. India on the other hand can make these countries a part of the North South transport corridor through Iran. Lack of connectivity through road to these countries due to Pakistanis reluctance is an issue. The TAPI pipeline is hanging in the balance due to Pakistan. The Chahbahar port assumes significance in this regard. It is also important for India to join the SCO since it should not allow Russia and China to have their dominance here.

    The connect Central Asia policy is laudable since its comprehensive but its implementation has been meagre and in patches. We need extensive, long term and high stake engagement to extend our sphere of influence.

    • El Magick

      Good intro – implying a historical connection that could be tapped into. Your second last para is solid. I wonder if it would be possible to break it into points? I think you could link your second paragraph to the INSTC to demonstrate a win-win situation for both sides. In one place you refer to “Connect East”, did you mean “Connect Central Asia”? Also, a slight elaboration on what the “Connect Central Asia” policy may mean, may help. I’m not sure. 😀

      Overall, for me, it was like a smooth overview into our interests in C.Asia.

      • Aj

        By connect east I meant our look east during the early nineties. Wrote it as connect East mistakenly.
        I had this thought that I am clubbing too many points together but than I didn’t find any other way. They are continuous, linked points so writing in points wouldn’t give their essence I felt. Anyways I will look at the other answers. Thanks for the review.

    • Insights-Review

      With over 308 words, this answer has crossed the word-limit by a huge margin, so do not be so verbose. You can cut down the whole first paragraph, and just give a short intro regarding the relationship between India and the Central Asia.

      Then, it says critically analyze, so you could have divided the answer into two parts, one dealing with the pros, and one dealing with the cons. And then could have written a small note on “Connect Central Asia” policy.

      We need to practice the art of writing the answer to the question which has been asked. Keep writing, and keep it simple, concise and to-the-point.

      All the best!

      • Aj

        Thanks for the review insights. Word limit is seriously a major issue with me. Will surely work on it. And yeah emphasis on the directives. Thank you again.

  • wheeler-dealer


    • Insights-Review

      Hi Wheeler Dealer,

      First of all, we should say this, you have a nice handwriting which not only is legible but pleasing to look at. Keep up the good work.

      Coming to your answer, you have mentioned INSTC, SCO, TAPI etc., which is excellent.

      But the question also asks us to ‘critically analyze’ India’s engagement, so a little more points on the negatives should also have been mentioned.

      Anyways, nice attempt, well within the word limit, keep up the good work. All the very best. 🙂

      • wheeler-dealer

        Thank you insights.
        I couldn’t get a lot of negatives other than the delay in projects implementation. I will try to search on the negatives.

  • El Magick

    India’s relationship with the Central Asian Republics (CARs) can at best be described as piecemeal. While a policy of Connect Central Asia (CCA) was announced in 2012, ground level implementation is conspicuous by its absence. A problematic north-west frontier of Pakistan and unstable Afghanistan has compounded this problem, while the Chinese have pro-actively established close economic ties with the CARs.

    The CCA already sets out a vision of partnership, economic investment, cultural linkages and enhanced trade with the CARs. One way of measuring the success of the CCA is that trade has increased from $700 million to close to $1.5 billion in the three years since. In the same time period, CARs trade with China has increased by $4Billion to $50 billion. It is, therefore, in India’s interests to push the boat on CCA.

    Furthermore, India shares commonality of interests in addressing issues of terrorism. With unstability in its backyard, it is in India’s interests that the CARs remain stable especially given their attractive resources.

    India can give a thrust to the CCA by: one, institutionalising connections while maintaining bilateral ties to drive each agreed point from implementation to completion; two, it should look to get round its North-West dilemma by ensuring its investment in Chahabar port leading to a North South Transport Corridor; three, the NSTC will in turn reduce the cost of materials imported and exported; four, India can improve and support military training and development; five, India can leverage its soft power in terms of the IT industry, opening up its higher education through easier Visa processes thereby building deep-rooted ties; six, India should address its energy security through pushing for the TAPI pipeline (this will mean significant dollars for the CARs).

    Indo-CARs relationship can only be win-win. There is a synchronisation of economic, cultural and political mutual interests. It behooves us to not play catch-up anymore but lead in our relationships with our surrounding areas. Enhanced CARs relations can send a strong message out.

  • Manoj

    5) Critically analyse the nature of India’s engagement and its mutual cooperation with the Central Asian countries and also comment if its ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy has lived up to its expectations. (200 Words).

    Ans.India and central Asian countries traditionally gave importance to each other because of historical and cultural ties.But these ties couldn’t sustained.Today,India is already fourth largest consumer of energy.And energy is considered as prerequisite for infrastructure building and development of a nation.Hence India,s engagement with central asia in today’s globalized world is inevitable.
    Some of India’s initiative to enhance mutual cooperation with central asian countries are-
    1.Tapi pipeline if materialized ,will solve the energy need of central asian countries.
    2.Chabahar port in Iran is seen as transit and alternative route to central Asia.As Indo-Pak relations can create problem in connectivity .India’s plan to invest is chabahar port is good idea.
    3.INSTC(international north south transport corridor)including road,railway and water connectivity from mumbai to Russia via Iran.India has good opportunity to enhance connectivity with Eurasia and Central Asia.
    However ,India.s response to above projects is lukeworm.India launched its policy of ‘Connect Central Asia’ in 2012,under which high level visits,energy cooperation,economic cooperation,investment in medical and education sector ,etc was included.But India’s response was not adequate.
    However,India has large scope of enhancing cooperation by relaxing visa regime,Cooperation in I.T sector,medical service,etc.

  • Aseem

    India’s relationship with Central Asia has been historic, due to shared culture, in its importance but at the same time it can be seen that it has lacked political and economic backing.

    Central Asia has been viewed as a region of great economic and geopolitical importance by many regional as well as International players like US, China, Japan, Russia etc due to its vast mineral abundance and its links with Europe. This can be viewed in its trade engagement of $50 Billion with China, usage of gas pipeline infrastructure by Russia to reach Europe, a transit place to support US military in Afghanistan etc. Also, the development of non-state actors and terrorism in the West Asia like that of IS has increased its importance especially with large Muslim population prone to radicalisation.

    India, with only $1.6 trade relation with whole of Central Asia shows the lack of economic integration between the two. India gave importance to the region by documenting Connect Central Asia but any significant political strides seem missing.

    India can do well to reinvigorate the long pending TAPI project and also early completion of the Chabahar port in Iran which provides key routes to the region. Announcement of International North-South transport corridor in the Foreign Trade policy is a welcome step which can be backed by a India-CA forum to provide political backing to Connect Central Asia policy.

    Please review friends… 🙂

  • Batman

    India has shared deep trade , cultural and people to people contacts with the Central Asia since ancient time .The nature of India’s engagement and it’s mutual cooperation with the Central Asian countries can be summarized as below:-

    Positive aspects :-

    1.Almost all central Asian countries are friendly ties with India.
    2.with regard to Iran,deep mutual trade and cooperation in areas of energy ,infrastructure and port facilities development exists .

    3.Afghanistan remains crucial and long-time partner of India with mutual relations based on trusts ,deep engagement,counter terrorism cooperation, credit , aids and assistances by India in development of roads,housing and schools and other infrastructure,training of Afghan security personnel in Indian defence academies etc
    4.relations with energy rich belt of Central Asian nations -Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan carry great potential in future cooperation on gas pipeline along with Russia and rail and road corridors remain promising , thwarting terrorism and countering radicalism.

    Limitations and negative aspects:

    1. relations with most of the Central Asian countries remain under developed due to several geo-political factors and obstacles .

    2. Pakistan ,a gateway to central Asia for India remain unwilling and key hurdle in connecting Iran with India through roads and a proposed gas pipelines and blocking the transit facility with Afghanistan .

    3.Areas areas such as cooperation roads,rail, port and infrastructure development and energy remain unexploited to their true potential .Development of strategically significant Chabahar port has suffered much delay .

    4.The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) INSTC that includes rail, road, and water transport from Mumbai in India via Bandar Abbas in Iran to Moscow in Russia remained unexplored . It would help develop its economic and strategic importance in Eurasia and Central Asia.

    The “Connect Central Asia policy” that India declared in 2012 and yet to be pursued , must be implemented speedy with high level visits, strategic partnerships, comprehensive economic engagement, partnership in the development of energy and natural resources.

    • Vijay

      Mentioning Iran looks irrelevant

  • Aishwarya Sharma

    India has historic cultural relations with the Central Asian Region. The Central Asian countries were part of the erstwhile USSR. Thus, post independence, while the relations remained cordial, they were conducted within the overall framework of the Indo-USSR relationship. In recent times, there has been a move to improve relations with the resource rich Central Asian region (CAR).

    1. The landlocked CAR is rich in mineral and energy resources and overly dependent on China and Russia. Hence, close development of trade relations is a win-win prospect for both.

    2. However, due to lack of a viable trade route, the overall Indian engagement has not utilised the potential of the relationship.

    3. While India has negotiated energy related projects like Turkmenistan-Afganistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline for gas, the actual implemenation is mired in the instability of the region.

    4. India and the CAR both face problems with rise of extremism and terrorism. Thus, they have co-operated in counter-terror initiatives.

    India formulated a ‘Connect Central Asia’ Policy in 2012 to ensure a holistic approach to improving relationship with the CAR. However, the policy has not been able to achieve complete success due to following reasons –

    1. Lack of a viable trade route between India and CAR. Even the International North South Transport Corridor started as a trilateral agreement between Russia, India and Iran.

    2. The sanctions imposed on Iran by the western nations has proved a major hindrance in the development of the Chabahar port by India which is the lynchpin of connectivity with CAR.

    India has recognised the importance of the Central Asian Region. What is needed now is to ensure quick and efficient execution of the policy to ensure that India’s strategic interests are protected.

  • India and central Asia has enjoyed cordial and mutually beneficial relations. The
    complementary nature of economies and shared historical and cultural similarities
    has played a crucial role in further cementing the ties.

    Central Asia is important source of energy and raw material. The sizeable reserves of oil and gas have a captive market in India. India has invested in oil exploration in Caspian Sea. But lack of proactive Indian policy, absence of sophisticated technology and huge capital requirement has resulted in suboptimal utilization. India has signed Uranium supply contract with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

    Connect Central Asia policy aims at deepening the partnership by high-level political visit, developing transportation link to leverage complementary strength of economies and developing infrastructure (especially digital and IT) to leverage human assets of region.

    India has established IT centre of Excellence and extended support in spreading telemedicine and tele-education in region. There is scope for further deepening and broad basing partnership by leveraging the private sector. The bilateral trades between Central Asian countries and India remain low despite huge potential.

    Strategic collaboration on counter-terrorism , cyber security and regional peace remain a promising issue for deepening cooperation.

    Connectivity has been constraining factor. The recent moves to speed up connectivity through development of Chabahar port of Iran and steps to accelerate TAPI pipeline for oil can help in strengthening weak link.

  • Subhash Tadala

    India having a cultural and historical contact to central asian republics made big strides to attract central asia, but the bag achieved is of lukewarm ouput. We can see them as below:

    1)India is trying to attract central asia to quench its energy thirst, but it didn’t focused effectively on infrastructure to bring that energy sources.
    2)The trade which was improved substantially after the Connect central Asia is laudable, but when compared to other countries share, india is a back runner.
    3)The leading players of different sectors in central asian countries are tending towards service sector which provide India a chance to leverage with its strong IT sector, but this was not given considerable Importance.
    4)Finally, though cultural ties exist, the Indo-Pakistan turf and lack of logistics hampered Indian advantages with respect to CA countries.

    With respect to Connect Central Asia(2012), it has not lived upto the expections due to:

    1)Non- Implementation of investment in International North South Transport Corridor.
    2)Lukewarm work on completion of India’s interest at chabhar port of iran
    3)Still India is in the observer status of Shangai Cooperation organistaion.
    4)The fate of TAPI pipeline to get the energy resource was still in the pipeline and spates of contention.

  • Meena

    The Central Asian countries sandwiched between three major powers of the world – Russia, China, India , play a key role in the connectivity across the Asian continent. India’s relations with these countries are mostly on the energy front, which is very crucial for the country’s energy security.
    India has a deal with Kazakshtan for Uranium supply, the TAPI pipeline from Turkemenistan will provide natural gas to India, the proposed North South Transport Corridor, a multimodal transport corridor will reduce the distance from Russia to India cutting across the central Asia region. For all these activities, the stability of these regions is of utmost importance. With a sizeable Muslim population, these countries are likely to be effected by the spreading IS terrorism. India must actively engage with these nations to curb & eliminate the IS activities.
    Apart from energy sector, India should also enhance trade and economic connectivity with these countries. Chinas trade with these nations is around $50bn, whereas India’s is a mere $800mn. India has launched a Connect Asian Policy in 2012 to establish high level dialogues and strategic,economic discussion with these countries, but the progress so far has been lukewarm.
    Given the aggressive Chinese silk road initiative, India should look beyond energy and establish cultural, trade, educational and connectivity ties with the central asian region. This will not only fulfil our Connect Asian policy but will aslo give India an edge to safeguard its strategic interests.

  • Yashaswi

    Self-reviewed already; additional criticisms welcome!

  • Sourav Das

    The engagement of India with central asian countries is chequered .It has both success and setbacks associated with Indian diplomacy.
    The positive aspects include:
    1.On the backdrop of recent muslim militant uprising in Central Asia Indian engagement with Afghanistan by providing military equipments to her somewhat deter the fear of possible Taliban attack in this country.
    2.India recently engaged with Iran in development of Chabahar port which not only open route to Indian export market to central Asia but will also decrease the hurdle faced by Indian traders while transiting through Pakistan to access the market of Iran and Afghanisthan.
    3.Thirdly,India’s diplomatic relation with Iran will also help her to get enough crude oil from central Asia particularly from Iran.Imported crude oil supply from Iran will not only help indian Oil & Gas Industries but will also help to decrease current account deficit because Crude oil import frame the largest segment of Imported goods along with Gold.
    But India’s foreign diplomacy towards central asian country has also include some major setbacks .They are as follows:
    1.After the retreat of US led NATO force from Afghanistan ,there exist a power
    vacuum in that country China’s latest Pak-Afghanisthan-China Economic corridor has dragged India’s foot back at that country.
    2.Indian foreign diplomacy is not likely to engage with Central Asian country partly because of they are little biassed to engage with Western superpower country like US.
    3.Last but not least, setback regarding Indian policy towards central Asia is that in country like Afghanistan there are growing engagements with Pakistan .Even the new Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani is more likely to be friendly with Pak Govt. and its Intelligence force ISI.It can be threatening for Indian because Afghan Pakistan friendship may result in nurturing terrorist ;anti Indian force in Afghanistan such as Taliban.
    Therefore in a nutshell it can be said that Indian bureaucrats must not be lulled by complacency of the fact that terrorist uprising in Central asian country will not affect Indian security interest .They should keep their eye open towards central asian geopolitics because it can largely affect India’s national interest as far as the security and economics concern.

    • Sourav Das

      Friends please review my answer….please

  • Vikas

    Plz review

  • akshayp

    The nature of Indias engagement with the Central Asian countries is energy needs based, security related and strategically important.
    1.The Central Asian nations offer India varied energy sources such as oil, gas and hydro power helping India meet energy needs.
    2. The Central Asian countries have a substantial Muslim population which has been attracted towards the IS. India is cooperating with them on security and defence against terror.
    3. The resource rich Central Asian countries are overly reliant on China due to geographical proximity. Indias intervention will help bring balance to Central Asia.

    India launched the Connent Central Asia initiative in 2012 to build better relations with the Central Asian nations. However lack of infrastructure and institutions are still sticking points.
    1. India lacks the necessary connectivity with the Central Asian region to take advantage of its resources. However the proposed investment in Irans Chabahar port might help.
    2. India does not have institutional mechanisms to connect with Central Asia like the India-Africa forum.

  • Central Asian nations came after Soviet disintegration and are actively engahed in builidng their identities. The region has always been given high priority in India’s policy and has cultural linkages since the spread of Buddhism to origins of Mughals and Great Game between the British and the Russians.
    The region is of importance to India because of its immense mineral reserves, hydroelectric potential, gas and other products. The Central Asian Regiob (CAR) is currently under Russian security perimeter and China’s economic influence but these nations want to diversify their relations. China and Russia exercise their control on these land-locked nations via Shangai Co-operation Organisation, in which India is an observer. Besides, CAR faces many challenges like growing Islamic fundamentalism, influence of ISIS, drug trafficking from Afghanistan, piracy, climate change, etc. where India shares their concerns.
    India’s Central Asia Policy of 2012 emphasized on more high level visits, comprehensive economic engagement, increased co-operation in security and intelligence sharing. However, the real problem is lacl of land route connectivity due to Pakistan. Hence, no meaningful relations can exist between India and CAR unless alternative steps are not taken.
    For fully realising the potential.of relations, we must push for Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Pipeline. Also, greater importance should be attached to Chabhar port amd International North South Trade Corriodr whicj connectw Mumbai to Moscow via CAR. Indian softpower can come real handy in education and medical and a CAR university could be set up. Most importantly, to have a proper dialogue forum, India should push for full membership of SCO, set up a India-CAR forum and think tank centre for the intellengentsia for exchange of ideas. India and CAR must seize the opportunity and evolve as the stakeholders in post-US Afghanistan.