Q.) Central Asia is located at the heart of the Eurasia map, its Geographic proximity and historical linkages, render the region highly relevant to India’s strategic interests. Discuss.

Ans– Central Asia as a region located at the heart of the Eurasia map has always been an important geostrategic location due to its economic opportunities and regional stability in the context of international relations.

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan are groups of 5 countries that are generally referred to as Central Asian countries.

Geographical proximity to Central Asia for India–

  1. The essential Location of Central Asia is the main issue influencing India’s relations with Pakistan, Russia, China, the United States, and other power in the area.
  2. Part of India’s immediate neighborhood.
  3. Acts as a bridge between different regions of Asia as well as between Europe and Asia.

Thus, for India’s connectivity to other parts of Asia and Europe, the strategic Location of Central Asia becomes more significant. India- Central Asia relations are not based on economic values, but India has also cultural and historical linkages with Central Asia.

Historical and cultural linkages with Central Asia–

  1. The legendary Silk route facilitated trade in Central Asia and also lead to flow the of ideas, and philosophies across India and Central Asia.
  2. Buddhism and Jainism flow from India to the rest of Asia and Europe.
  3. Aryans migrated to India from these regions of Central Asia.
  4. There is a bronze age site in Turkmenistan where some artifacts of the late Harappan stage have been found which signifies a good trade relation between India and Central Asia from ancient times.
  5. Sakas, Parthians, and Kushans came to India and endowed India with their cultural practices.
  6. During the medieval period, Islam began to Trickle into India from Central Asia.
  7. Md. Ghaznavi and Md. Ghori and Babur all have come to India from these regions which lead to the rising of the cultural elements in Indian civilization.
  8. During the cold war period, non-alignment policy and cultural interaction were promoted.

India’s essential advantages in Central Asia in contemporary Times-

  1. Central Asian countries have abundant mineral resources like Petroleum, natural gas, Uranium, aluminum, gold, silver, coal, etc. which can ensure energy security for India. these resources have not been fully utilized yet.
  2. Regional peace and security– deal with terrorism and radicalization, the threat of supply of weapons of mass destruction, and Illegal drug trade from the golden Crescent of opium production. (Iran- Pakistan- Afghanistan)
  3. Trending India’s role in peace negotiation in Afghanistan leading to a peaceful stable government there.
  4. Connectivity to Europe via INSTC (International North-South transport corridor) to two other parts of Asia and Europe.
  5. Central Asian countries and reviews the consumer market for a range of goods and services like information technology, tourism, tea, and pharmaceuticals.

Efforts made by India–

  1. Central Asia- India dialogue– was held in 2019 with five Central Asian countries and India. all five countries are also part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Recently in 2021, the 3rd Central Asian- India dialogue was posted by India that stressed INSTC, the Situation in Afghanistan, counterterrorism efforts, post-pandemic recovery, and Restoration of tourism.
  2. Through the Eurasian economic forum, India is negotiating comprehensive economic cooperation with Central Asian countries.
  3. Wire Shanghai cooperation organization where all Central Asian countries i.e. Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Russia, India, and Iran are members. India is trying to address the issues of regional terrorism and radicalization which have the potential to threaten the Global order.

Way forward–

  1. Effective use of measures in Iran to establish transport communication in Central Asian countries.
  2. A shared collaboration of individual interests with individual countries in the Central Asian region can lead to boosting India’s presence in the region as a whole.
  3. Why are Central Asian dialogues, India has the opportunity to actively engage in the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan, better economic cooperation between India and Central Asian countries, and counter the influence of China?

Addressing the challenges in connectivity and the proper mechanism in the field of economic cooperation, Counter-Terrorism will lead to benefit of both the parties the strengthen their position in international diplomatic affairs.

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