- India and neighbourhood relations.
Afghanistan opens new export route to India through Iran’s Chabahar port
What to study?
- For Prelims: Location of Chabahar port.
- For Mains: Significance of the port for India, Challenges to its development.
Context: Afghanistan recently began exports to India through Chabahar port in Iran. Afghanistan, a landlocked, war-torn nation is turning to overseas markets to improve its economy.
- Chabahar port is the result of healthy cooperation between India, Iran and Afghanistan this will ensure economic growth. The Iranian port provides easy access to the sea to Afghanistan and India has helped developed this route to allow both countries to engage in trade bypassing Pakistan.
Where is Chabahar port?
Iran’s Chabahar port is located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of the country. The port gives access to the energy-rich Persian Gulf nations’ southern coast.
Why Chabahar port is crucial for India?
- The first and foremost significance of the Chabahar port is the fact that India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan. Chabahar port will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
- Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
- With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.
- With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline. India has already increased its crude purchase from Iran since the West imposed ban on Iran was lifted.
- Chabahar port will ensure in the establishment of a politically sustainable connectivity between India and Afghanistan. This will in turn, lead to better economic ties between the two countries.
- From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.
Mains Question: Do you think India figures prominently in the West Asian countries’ security and strategic plans? Does developing Chabahar port give India strategic advantage in Iran and the region? Critically examine.