[Answered] Highlight the economic and strategic significance of India’s relations with Central Asia.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain some economic and strategic significance of India’s relations with Central Asia.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Recently for the first time, India hosted a meeting of top security officials of Central Asia with a focus on the evolving security situation in Afghanistan. It coincided with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Central Asian countries. Central Asian Republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) form a part of India’s extended neighbourhood.

Economic and strategic significance:

  • Central Asia is extremely rich in mineral and natural resources. Kazakhstan has one of the biggest reserves of uranium, besides stores of coal, lead, zinc, gold, and iron ore. The availability of commercially viable quantities of natural resourceslike oil, gas, uranium, lead, etc. make it important for India’s energy security (Turkmenistan is part of the proposed TAPI gas pipeline).
  • The geographical location of central Asia makes it important for India’s aspiration to connect to greater Eurasian regionvia land route including the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
  • The illicit drug trade, religious fundamentalism and terrorismemanating from the region create greater security challenge for India.
  • Central Asia has a growing consumer marketfor goods and services that India can provide.
  • Central Asia’s proximityto middle east, Afghanistan, Pakistan and China makes it important for India geo-strategic interests. g. security cooperation after the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan; to counter China’s influence in the region;
  • The Central Asian countries provide trade and investment opportunities in multiple sectors like IT, Pharmaceuticals, Tourism etc.

Given the historical, cultural and economic connect India is well placed to maximize its role in the development of the region. India shall maximize the use of multilateral platforms like SCO to further its interests in the region.

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