While throwing light on the geostrategic importance of Central Asian region, discuss some of the steps taken by India over the past few years to promote its concept of "extended neighbourhood"in the region.
Central Asia is referred as arena of great game. The global powers are relentlessly trying to increase their influence in the region due to its geo-strategic importance:
- Central Asian region has the potential to be the linchpin and gateway to West Asia, East Asia, South Asia and Russia from the West.
- Central Asia has huge reserves of hydrocarbons and mineral resources. This energy surplus region can aid world in assuring of energy security.
- Central Asia lies in neighbourhood of instability. An effective cooperation from Central Asia is needed to counter the menace of terrorism.
- Proximity of Central Asia for the golden crescent which is the hub of drug trafficking makes it a vital partner in fight against drug trafficking.
- Central Asia has a huge untapped market and the global majors are competing to exploit the growing trade opportunities in the region due to boom.
- The Fergana Valley is a hot spot of fundamentalism. Instability in Central Asia can spill over into Asia and Europe.
Steps taken by India to promote the concept of extended neighborhood:
- To strengthen the connectivity with central Asia India has ceded to Ashgabat agreement and revitalized the International north south transport corridor.
- India’s membership to Shanghai economic cooperation boosts the avenue of cooperation with the Central Asian economies.
- Attempts are being made to formalize the free trade pact with Eurasian economic union.
- India is deepening its relations with Central Asia through Indian technical and economic cooperation programme.
- India is strengthening its relations with Central Asia through connect central Asia policy.
- India has bilateral energy deals like TAPI and nuclear deal with Kazakhstan.
India has historic warm relations with central Asia. Supplementing economic diplomacy with its soft power can aid India in strengthening of the relations with Central Asia.