You are here

Manoj Kumar: What have been the achievements of India's ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy so far, and what are its future prospects?

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • Meena Singh Roy replies: India’s ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy is an attempt to augment India’s renewed linkages with the entire Eurasian region. Its various facets include enhancing India’s engagement in economic, political and strategic fields, in education, connectivity and in the areas of culture and people-to-people contact. Since the policy was announced just two years ago in 2012, it is too early to expect much in such a short time. However, there are some initiatives which are in the pipeline and some achievements as well. As part of policy implementation, following developments may be noted:

    1. There have been many high level visits from both sides to enhance the political engagement.
    2. For increasing the connectivity, there has been some forward movement in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) project. In addition, India is also committed to investing in the development of Chabahar Port in Iran to enhance its connectivity through Iran and Afghanistan to the Central Asian Republics (CARs).
    3. India plans to set up a Central Asian University in Kyrgyzstan as well as medical centres in the region.
    4. In the energy sector, there has been a forward movement on TAPI which is expected to be operational by 2015 according to official sources. India’s ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) has got 25 per cent stakes in the Satpayev Block in the Caspian Sea and is also cooperating in getting uranium from the region.
    5. Under its development partnership programme, India has embarked on contributing towards capacity building and human resource development in the Central Asian countries to bolster its engagement with the region. Today, IT centres of excellence are operational in Tashkent, Ashgabat, Dushanbe and Bishkek, with one in the pipeline in Astana.
    6. India has gifted a Fruit Processing Plant in Dushanbe in Tajikistan and a Potato Processing Plant in Talas in Kyrgyzstan. Some other significant projects in Central Asia are computerisation of post offices in Uzbekistan, an Entrepreneurship Development Centre in Tashkent and a Tool Room in Dushanbe. Under its ITEC programme, India has allocated 645 slots to Eurasia in 2012–13, out of which 435 were allocated to the CARs. This is among the most successful programmes and is deeply appreciated by the CARs.
    7. During the visit of President Emomali Rahmon to India from September 1-4, 2012, India, as part of its ongoing developmental partnership with Tajikistan, announced new development projects including an IT Centre of excellence; an e-network, including tele-education and tele-medicine; medical centres; language laboratories; an Entrepreneurship Development Institute; supply of agricultural machinery; and, implementation of a package on small development projects.
    8. In addition to the above initiatives, India is working on a number of flagship projects. It is working on setting up an e-network to connect all five CARs with the aim of delivering tele-education and tele-medicine. As part of its effort to further increase the connectivity, the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation has since July 20, 2012 sanctioned fourteen flights per week for each of the CARs.

    The future prospects for this policy are immense. However, the biggest challenge is to ensure proper implementation of suggested projects and proposals. Most of the proposals are still in the pipeline and many of them will demand consistent follow up at the highest political level. The effective implementation of various proposals presupposes equal attention and cooperation from India’s Central Asian partners as well to make the ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy a success. At this point in time, it is too early to expect quick results from the policy.

    For further on the topic, please refer to my following publication:

    Meena Singh Roy, “India’s ‘Connect Central Asia’ Policy: Building Cooperative Partnership,” Indian Foreign Affairs Journal, 8 (3), July–September 2013, pp. 301-316.

    Posted on May 15, 2014