Central Asia gained independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
India was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with all five Central Asian countries.
Over the last three decades, India’s engagement with the region has steadily improved.
India’s historical ties with Central Asia date back to the ancient Silk Route, fostering cultural connections.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to the region in 1955 marked early diplomatic engagement.
Central Asia possesses abundant mineral and natural resources, such as Kazakhstan’s uranium reserves, Kyrgyz Republic’s gold, and Turkmenistan’s natural gas.
India has strategic partnerships with all Central Asian countries except Turkmenistan, which follows a policy of ‘permanent neutrality.’
The 2022 India-Central Asia Summit strengthened strategic engagement to address regional issues.
India’s engagement is vital due to several reasons:
Ensuring security cooperation in the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan.
Countering China’s growing influence in the region and promoting connectivity with Europe through initiatives like the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
Meeting India’s energy needs through projects like the proposed TAPI gas pipeline.
India and Central Asian leaders agreed to hold regular leaders’ summits, foreign and trade minister meetings, and joint counter-terrorism exercises.
The operationalization of Chabahar port for all five countries fosters connectivity.
India’s leadership in the SCO presents opportunities for diversifying relations with Central Asia.