India-Central Asia Relations - December 2018

For the first-time, troops of a foreign army are serving under command of an Indian Army battalion at a United Nation mission. A company comprising 120 soldiers of Kazakh army were inducted with the 11 Jat infantry battalion of the Indian Army in Lebanon. With a total strength of 850 troops, Indian and Kazakh army are co-deployed in a mountainous, tough terrain along the Blue Line that demarcates Lebanon and Israel. While 90 soldiers from the Kazakh army will be deployed in the area under control of the Indian Army battalion, 30 of them will be placed at the battalion headquarter. Last year, two teams of the Indian Army went to Kazakhstan to make an assessment of the training requirements of their troops for common operational needs. Thereafter 30 troops from the Kazakh Army were trained in Delhi alongside 11 Jat soldiers to prepare for the UN mission.

Foreign Office Consultations between India and Tajikistan took place in New Delhi. Both sides exchanged views on topical issues of regional and international agenda.

In an Article titled “Seven Facets of the Great Steppe”, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has written: ’Ancient India with its rich polyethnic culture and the modern Indian people are naturally considered as one unique civilization, continuing its development in an uninterrupted stream of history. And this is the right approach, allowing you to understand your origins, and indeed the entire national history in all its depth and complexity.’’

International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM), one of India's leading chains of hospitality management institutes will open its ninth centre in Samarkand, Uzbekistan in collaboration with Samarkand Institute of Economics and Services. Faculty will be a mix of Indian and Uzbek professionals. Tourism is important for Uzbekistan and training students in hospitality will help promote tourism to the country.

The five Central Asian economies of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, hold nearly 31.26 billion barrels and 415.4 trillion cubic feet of oil and gas reserves respectively. Given the enormous and ever-increasing energy demand of India and the significance of Central Asia in connecting India to Russia and Eastern Europe countries, the region is a natural geo-strategic partner for India. 

India and Kazakhstan propose to take their bilateral trade to US$ 5 billion from the current US$ 1 billion. During a bilateral Investment Forum held in Delhi, the two sides discussed potential of Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran-India multi-modal connectivity corridor which can be further linked to Russia. More than 50 Indian companies attended the forum. Indian businessmen expressed interest in agricultural, ore-mining, engineering, telecommunications, healthcare and other projects.

Indian students in Kazakhstan appear to be shaken after some of them were subjected to muggings and assaults. Latest case in this was a 23-year-old medical student who was recently found dead under mysterious circumstances.

 

December 28, 2018

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About the Author

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar

Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of Global Studies and Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar belongs to the Indian Foreign Service and has acquitted his responsibilities in the diplomatic service for 34 years. He was Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia and has worked in senior diplomatic positions in Indian Embassies/Missions in Washington DC, Brussels, Moscow, Geneva, Tehran, Dhaka and Bangkok and also at Headquarters in India. He negotiated for India in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations and in negotiations for India-EU, India-ASEAN and India-Thailand Free Trade Agreements.

He contributed significantly to strengthening strategic ties and promoting cultural cooperation between India and USA, EU, Russia and other countries.Ambassador Sajjanhar worked as head of National Foundation for Communal Harmony to promote amity and understanding between different religions, faiths and beliefs. Ambassador Sajjanhar has been decorated by Governments of Kazakhstan and Latvia with their National Awards and by Universal Peace Federation with Title of ''Ambassador of Peace.'' Currently Ambassador Sajjanhar is President of Institute of Global Studies, New Delhi. He writes, travels and speaks extensively on issues relating to international relations, foreign policy and themes of contemporary relevance and significance. He appears widely on TV panel discussions. Ambassador Sajjanhar is interested in reading, music and travelling. His wife Madhu is an economist and an educationist. They have a son and a daughter both of who are accomplished singers. Their son passed out of Yale University and their daughter is pursuing her PhD at University of Minnesota.