India had a cultural, historical, economic, spiritual and civilizational links with the Central Asia region. Exchanges between Central Asia and India were dynamic during the period of the Silk Route, from 3 rd Century BC to 15 th Century BC. Not only movement of goods, like silk, spices, gold, silver, textiles, but also thoughts, ideas, spirituality were exchanged between India and the region. The Bilateral ties between India and Uzbekistan have seen a significant upswing since Indian Prime Minister Modi resumed office in 2014 and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev assumed charge in December 2016. President Mirziyoyev has introduced several political, economic, social and institutional reforms, which have made Uzbekistan not only an attractive investment destination but also as a significant leader in Central Asia and the region. In the light of growing relationship, Ananta Centre held a digital session on “India – Uzbekistan relations: Growing coherence and convergence” with H.E. Dilshod Akhatov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan to India and H.E. Manish Prabhat, Ambassador of India to Uzbekistan chaired by Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden & Latvia and Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre.
The bilateral cooperation between India and Uzbekistan has been developing practically in all areas. The recent state visit by Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to India in October 2018, resulted in the signing of 20 documents in different areas of cooperation, opened a new age relations for both the countries. During the last four years, Uzbekistan have witnessed considerable intensification of trade and economic cooperation with India. Currently, there are more than 300 Enterprises with the participation of Indian capitalists in Uzbekistan. The joint projects worth over $650 million are being realized in the challenging times posed by the pandemic, both India and Uzbekistan have provided friendly assistance to each other in meeting the requirements of pharmaceutical products and medical equipments.
Despite the pandemic, the bilateral relations between two countries are continuing to develop steadily. Last year India and Uzbekistan has reached agreements on implementation of 15 investment projects for $3 billion. The Indian government has opened the credit line of $448 million for development projects in Uzbekistan in sectors such as like road construction, construction of sewage systems and information technologies.
Beyond the line of credit projects, India is also looking at high impact community development projects, India wants to do developmental projects in Uzbekistan, purely on the grant basis of Government of India. Right now between the ministry of investment and foreign trade of Uzbekistan and Ministry of External Affairs of India, have identified about six or seven projects to begin with which then could diversify into fields like healthcare, IT etc.
There are significant prospects for cooperation in the areas of information technology, digital economy, education and culture. In July 2019, the technological park of software products and Information Technologies: IT Park was created in Tashkent with the assistance of the Society of software technology Parks of India (STPI). In 2020, branches of this IT Park were opened in a number of cities of the Republic of Uzbekistan, for example, in Andijan, Jissakh, Gulistan, etc.
The cultural and tourist exchange also can contribute not only to the social, economic development of both countries but also strengthens the monetary basis of India Uzbekistan relations. The cooperation in transport and logistic sector is of great importance in promoting cooperation between the countries. Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries support New Delhi's efforts to develop Iran's Chabahar Port, which is set to become a key transit hub for India's trade with Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries. In December 2020 Uzbekistan, India and Iran held the first meeting of trilateral working group on joint use of Chabahar Port.
The deepening of a political dialogue and cooperation between India and Uzbekistan corresponds to a long term interests of the two countries and can make a significant contribution to the restoration of historical activity of Central and South Asian regions. India and Uzbekistan are rightly focusing on connectivity because it is the key in building the future path of bilateral relation between the two countries. On the political front, relations are good, both countries have taken a region wide effort to aptly cooperate and are thinking together on regional issues, global issues, etc. India also wants to become a valuable partner of Uzbekistan in civility nuclear cooperation, and in fact, the Global Center for nuclear energy partnership in India, and the Uzbek agency have signed a Memorandum of cooperation agreement in the field of civil nuclear energy and the Uzbekistan has plans to build its first civil nuclear power station in the coming years, and India can operate in this field also.
Furthermore, India and Uzbekistan have really stepped up multilateral cooperation. Uzbekistan had always supported India's permanent membership in the UN Security Council. In fact, the reform in multilateralism, has been one of the strands of India's foreign policy, and Uzbekistan has really supported it. On the platform of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, India and Uzbekistan work together, both countries meet more often, at various levels, and a lot of interesting avenues of operation has opened up. In fact, India and Uzbekistan is working together aim to enrich the bilateral relationship in coming years.
This digital session was a part of a series on “Ambassador Series”
Please watch the full session on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dpLrxQnV7s