India’s relationship with the Central Asian republics has deep historical, cultural, and economic roots, evolving into a mature and transformative partnership. The “Connect Central Asia” policy highlights the multifaceted ties between India and the region, reflecting a relationship that has grown significantly over three decades. Central Asia serves as an extended neighbourhood for India, offering avenues for mutual cooperation and shared interests.


  • India’s “Connect Central Asia” policy focuses on political, economic, and cultural connections, marking 30 years of diplomatic ties with the Central Asian republics.
  • Despite substantial growth in the relationship, challenges persist, making the region’s importance in advancing and safeguarding India’s interests more crucial than ever.

Forwarding India’s Geopolitical Interests:

  • Geopolitical Bridge: Central Asia serves as a bridge between Asia and Europe, holding geopolitical significance due to its political borders with Russia, China, India, and other countries.
  • Regional Organizations: Central Asian countries’ presence in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) supports India’s vision of an “Asian century” and its commitment to peace and prosperity.
  • Countering Fundamentalism: Stability in Central Asia and neighboring Afghanistan is vital for India’s fight against religious fundamentalism and terrorism.
  • Mitigating Non-State Actors: The region’s role becomes crucial in countering destabilization caused by non-state actors used as foreign policy tools by Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • Balancing China: India’s strategic interests intersect with the region’s geopolitical significance, particularly in countering China’s assertive stance.
  • Anti-Drug Efforts: Collaboration in combating drug trafficking addresses a pressing challenge and ensures regional security.
  • Soft Power Projection: India’s cultural influence, through sports, music, art, cinema, and culture, strengthens its moral standing in the region.

India’s Geostrategic Engagement – The “4Cs”:

  • Security and terrorism
  • Trade and economy
  • Development partnership
  • Energy security
  • Climate change
  • Healthcare

Forwarding India’s Geo-Economic Interests:

  • Historical Significance: Central Asia historically played a vital role as a transit route, facilitating trade and cultural exchanges between India, China, Iran, and Europe.
  • Consumer Market: Central Asia’s substantial consumer market offers opportunities for India’s goods and services.
  • Trade Potential: The current bilateral trade of one billion dollars underscores the untapped potential for growth through increased cooperation and joint ventures.
  • Energy Security: Abundant natural resources, including coal, gas, minerals, uranium, and crude oil, position the region as crucial for India’s energy security.
  • Pipeline Projects: Initiatives like TAPI and IPI pipelines enhance India’s energy access and security.
  • Connectivity and Trade: The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and the Ashgabat Agreement enhance connectivity and trade routes.

The vast potential for cooperation between India and the Central Asian region calls for a long-term strategy. Recognizing the geopolitical and geo-economic benefits, India must tap into the region’s unrealized potential through sustained engagement. A comprehensive approach encompassing political, economic, and cultural ties is essential to secure India’s interests while fostering mutual growth and prosperity.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish April 25, 2024