Taking trade and energy sectors, show how Central Asia is crucial for India. Why is the relationship subdued? What is being done?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to five Central Asian countries- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan- reinvigorated India's traditional ties with the region. Strong relation in energy, trade, culture and security sectors with the five nations is in mutual interest.
The economic development of Central Asia, specially in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, has sparked a construction boom and development of sectors like IT, pharmaceuticals and tourism. India has expertise in these sectors and deeper cooperation will give a fresh impetus to trade relations with these countries. India's trade ties with Central Asia have been performing well below their true potential. Pakistan refused to give India rights to overland trade with Afghanistan that hit our trade with Central Asia.
Poor connectivity has contributed to the below-par trade between India and Central Asia. But India has found a way to solve the problem. Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan recently inaugurated a railway line connecting the two countries with Iran. India has invested in Iran's Chabahar port and that will allow Indian products to reach Iran and then to Central Asia through the rail link. India seeks to re-energise the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) The INSTC was initiated by Russia, India and Iran in 2000 to establish transportation networks among the member states and to enhance connectivity with the land locked region of Central Asia. The successful nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers will also make it easier for Delhi to do business with Tehran.
Central Asian countries want to diversify their foreign relations away from Russia and China and believe that India's presence will help them achieve their aim.
Central Asia is known for resources like hydrocarbon, mineral deposits, hydroelectric power potential and gold.India has a deal with Kazakhstan for uranium. India's state-run oil firm ONGC Videsh Limited has a minor stake in Kazakhstan's Satpayev oil blocks. In Turkmenistan, TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline was discussed.