First India- Central Asia Summit: An Analysis : Daily Current Affairs

Relevance: GS-2 - International Relations - Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests; Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Key phrases:  Extended Neighbourhood, Energy Security, Counter-terrorism initiatve, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Ashgabat Agreement, Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure, Line of Credit, Belt and Road Initiative, Quadrilateral Traffic-in-Trade Agreement

Why in News?

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi held the 1st India-Central Asia Summit on Thursday, virtually with five Presidents from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan
  • The five leaders including Kazakhstan’s Kassym-Jomart Tokayev,Kyrgyzstan’s Sadyr Japarov,Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Uzbekistan’s Shavkat Mirziyoyev were due to be chief guests this year at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, but their visits were cancelled due to the current wave of coronavirus cases in India
  • Delhi Declaration along with 30 year roadmap was pitched

3 Objectives of the 1st India - Central Asia Summit

  1. To emphasise the centrality of the region to India’s integrated and stable extended neighbourhood
  2. To establish a framework of regular interaction among various stakeholders
  3. Shared commitment to a “peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan”

Takeaways from Delhi Declaration

  • A summit every 2 years
  • Regular meetings between Foreign Ministers and Trade Ministers
  • Joint Working group on Afghanistan
  • Joint Counter-terrorism Exercises
  • Group to operationalise the use of Chabahar port by all 5 countries
  • A secretariat for India-Central Asia in Delhi
  • Bringing Indian Hospitals and Universities to the Central Asian Nations

Areas of Cooperation - present status quo

  • Bilateral interests
    • Commerce
      • Trade relations to be improved from current $2Bn
      • It is skewed towards energy imports from Kazakhstan
    • Culture
      • Aim to enhance cultural connectivity of Buddhist Linkages
      • Also, culture of people residing in mountain-valley of Ladakh and Himalayan states
      • Increasing people-to-people contacts
    • Connectivity
  • Presently, Trilateral working group on Chabahar with Iran and Uzbekistan to strengthen connectivity to the region.
    • Building Developmental Partnership
      • India extended a $1 billion Line of Credit (LOC) for development projects in the areas of energy, healthcare, connectivity, IT, and agriculture in 2020
  • Discussion on Global and Regional Developments
    • Global Development - rebuilding economies affected by the pandemic (which was also taken up in Shanghai Cooperation Meeting)
    • Regional Development - integrated approach is required for developments in Afghanistan

Fora for engagement with Central Asia

  1. Connect Central Asia Policy
    • India's 'Connect Central Asia' Policy is a broad-based approach, including political, security, economic and cultural connections - since 2015
    • To reduce the dependence on its immediate neighbours of Central Asian countries
  2. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
    • It comprises India and 4 of 5 Central Asian countries (except Turkmenistan) along with Russia, China and Pakistan
    • RATS structure for joint anti-terrorism initiative and training
  3. Meeting of National Security Advisors at an India-Central Asia meet hosted by NSA Ajit Doval (in November)
  4. Meeting of Foreign Ministers of India and Central Asian nations for enhanced and integrated approach on issues plaguing the global world order

Recent issues

  • Conflict between Russia and NATO states
    • troops build-up in Ukraine and strained relations between the west and Russia can cause potential issues between India and Central Asian countries
      • As India will be against any violence and Central Asian countries have had close strategic ties with Kremlin due to them being former Soviet States
  • Russian military support to Kazakhstan’s President Tokayev was also viewed by the west as an ambitious intervention of revisionist Russia
  • Stance of Central Asian Nations on China
    • All have supported China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
    • Quadrilateral Traffic-in-Trade Agreement - is a transit trade deal between China, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan for facilitating transit traffic and trade
    • Beijing held a swift but significant talk, on 25th January, with 5 Central Asian Nations to increase assistance to the tune of 500 Mn $ along with resurgence in trade (more than 41Bn$ and connectivity)
  • Afghanistan Conundrum
    • Taliban is yet to agree on 3 things
      • to forming an inclusive government,
      • restoring education for girls of all ages,
      • giving concrete guarantees on preventing terrorist groups from operating in Afghanistan
    • not all Central Asian countries are on the same page as India on dealing with the Taliban, and with the exception of Tajikistan,
      • all have exchanged high level diplomatic visits with Kabul,
      • while at least two, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have reopened their missions in Afghanistan
  • Importance of each Central Asian countries vis-a-vis India
    • Kazakhstan has become a vital partner for India’s energy security,
    • Uzbekistan - state governments of India are also active partners in growing cooperation
    • Kyrgyzstan - active participation in field of education and high-altitude research, also 1000s of Indian Students are studying there
    • Tajikistan - long standing Security agreements [Farkhor air base is jointly operated by Indian Air Force and Tajik Air Force]
    • Turkmenistan - important part of Indian vision in the field of regional connectivity [Ashgabat Agreement]

Way forward

  • Increase trade connectivity by incentivising companies to invest in Central Asia (beneficial for 5 tn$ economy by 2024)
  • Diplomatic push for TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India)pipeline (enhanced energy security)
  • Utilise Buddhist and bollywood linkages to increase people-to-people ties
  • Joint counter terrorism exercise and deradicalisation initiatives to enhance regional and national security


  • India and Central Asia stand to gain from a continued and meaningful engagement.This will ensure growth and stability in Eurasian region and peace & security in the world.

Source: The Hindu; Indian Express

Mains Question:

Q. Why is Central Asia important to India’s Security, Energy and geo-political needs? Discuss