India-Central Asia Relations - November 2018

Kazakhstan’s first ever UN peacekeeping contingent that is part of an Indian battalion in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) arrived in Lebanon. The contingent will patrol areas, organise observer posts and supervise ceasefires. 120 Kazakh peacekeepers have been deployed in Lebanon in their mission for UNIFIL with Indbatt. India, as the lead nation, is providing command, control and battalion headquarters, three rifle companies, a mechanised infantry company, a headquarters company and a support company, for a total of 730 service members. Kazakhstan, as a supporting state, is providing a rifle company numbering 120 service members. Training of main forces of Kazakh peacekeeping contingent was conducted at UN Peacekeeping Training Centre in New Delhi. The peacekeeping operation will continue for 18 months.

India held a preparatory meet for first phase of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) joint 2019 exercise to chalk out plan and modalities for the main exercise on ‘Urban Earthquake Search and Rescue’ scheduled between February 21-24, 2019 in New Delhi. Representatives of all SCO member countries attended the two-day meet. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been entrusted with responsibility to organise the exercise.

A roundtable conference on the theme "North-South Corridor (Kazakhstan - Turkmenistan - Iran - India) - Current situation and perspectives" was organised in New Delhi. Indian Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations and Ministry of Trade and Industry of India supported the Event. Purpose of the event was to inform the Indian business community about logistical capabilities of the eastern branch of "North-South" transit corridor and to attract Indian business circles to use it widely. Around 50-60 representatives of Indian businesses, including leadership of Indian seaports such as Mumbai, Mundra, Chennai, Calcutta, as well as heads of large Indian transport, logistical and trade companies participated in the event.

Pakistan is considering joining the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) project as it could be beneficial for the country. It was invited to join by Azerbaijan.

India, notwithstanding impending sanctions on Iran, intends to put in place a corridor linking Gujarat and West Bengal to Kazakhstan and Eastern Russia via Iran's Bandar Abbas Port. Plans are afoot to link Gujarat's Mundra Port with Bandar Abbas and connect it to Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan railroad network and onwards to Eastern Russia. The idea is to not only access markets of this landlocked region but also create a corridor to import natural resources from the region. The corridor will run parallel to the International North-South Transport Corridor and the Chabahar corridor, both through Iran. Goal of the proposed corridor is to connect Eastern India with Eurasia in the backdrop of India’s Indo-Pacific construct from the western part of Indian Ocean to the Pacific. The proposal for the new corridor comes on the heels of Moscow launching talks with Delhi for creation of a corridor connecting Russia-Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Oman-India.


 November 20, 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.