You are here

Ajinkya asked: What is the ‘New Silk Road’ initiative taken by the United States? What are the benefits for India in this?

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • Rajorshi Roy replies: The ‘New Silk Road’ initiative was introduced by the former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2011. This US strategy primarily aims at the economic development of Afghanistan by utilising its potential as a land-bridge between the ‘East’ and the ‘West’ and connecting Central with South Asia. It has been reasoned that economic incentives will encourage political integration in order to build long-term stability in the region. This is an ambitious though a visionary plan which will require a lot of deft political and economic manoeuvring.

    The initiative aims to create new infrastructure like highways, railroads, electricity networks and energy pipelines along with reduced legal barriers to trade. Some specific projects which have been mentioned include the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project, U.S. sponsored project to transmit electricity from hydropower plants in Central Asia to Afghanistan and a plausible Afghanistan-Pakistan free trade agreement. The transit potential of Afghanistan can help sustain its economy over the long run and at the same time help build political, economic and energy ties across the region.

    In the Ancient Silk Road, wherein Afghanistan was centrally located due to its geographical location, goods were transported from Beijing to Bactria and then towards Turkey and the commercial ports of Europe. The ‘New Silk Road’ broadly highlights the present day geopolitical realities. To an extent, the new US policy can also be seen as an attempt to reduce Russia’s influence in Central Asia, a region often referred to as Russia’s ‘Near Abroad’.

    India has backed this multinational initiative aimed at linking the resource-rich Central Asia with South Asian economies. The mutual benefits are enormous. India will gain a direct access to both Afghan and Central Asian markets and from there on to Russian and European markets. This is a much more economically viable route. The energy potential of Central Asian countries can also be tapped into. Moreover, it has been envisioned that the new initiative will help in bringing lasting stability and prosperity to Afghanistan, a goal long strived for by India.

    For more details on the New Silk Road Initiative, please refer to the following US department of state web-link: