India-Central Asia Relations - September 2018

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made a brief stopover at Ashgabat airport enroute to Russia during which she held discussions with her Turkmen counterpart Rashid Meredov on issues of bilateral interest. She had made a brief stopover at Ashgabat in August, 2018 also during her visit to 3 Central Asian countries.

A Kazakh delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Askar Zhumagaliyev visited India during which members got acquainted with digitalization projects in India, visited National Informatics Center, where solutions in field of information services and information and communication technologies were presented. Zhumagaliyev met Indian Minister of Communications and Information Technology and spoke about Digital Kazakhstan State Program. He noted significant experience of India in implementation of projects in field of cyber security, development of human capital, biometrics and others. India conveyed readiness to share experience in field of personnel training and expressed interest in cooperation in other spheres also. Indian companies like NASSCOM, NIELT, CDAC, SPTI, EP presented their products. Kazakh side presented the Astana Hub, opening of which will be held on November 5, 2018 and told about prospects for development of innovative ecosystem in Kazakhstan.  Zhumagaliyev sought partnership from both public and private sector in India to help Kazakhstan in its digital journey. He said that India has good experience in implementation of new technologies and Kazakhstan is interested in building partnerships in both software and hardware sectors.

India and Kazakhstan conducted 3rd edition of joint military Exercise KAZIND 2018 in Otar, Kazakhstan for 2 weeks from 10th September, 2018. This provided an ideal platform to both contingents to share their operational experience while also broadening interoperability and cooperation between armies of India and Kazakhstan. Primary focus was to train and equip contingents to undertake joint counterinsurgency and counter-terrorist operations in urban and rural environment under mandate of United Nations. Future editions of Exercise KAZIND are likely to witness a progressive increase in scope and content of combined training.
Development of regional economic cooperation was discussed in Dushanbe at Ministerial meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states. Draft report of the meeting will be submitted to next meeting of SCO Council of Heads of Government in October in Dushanbe.

5th meeting of India-Central Asia Dialogue was held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on September 13-14, 2018.

Uzbekistan wants to further elevate its ties with India and also take bilateral trade to US$1 billion within two years. Uzbek Ambassador Farhod Arziev said that the two countries are working on more transport corridors to boost trade after India joined the Ashgabat Agreement. Both countries are making joint efforts to bring peace in strife-torn Afghanistan. Uzbekistan stated that India is one of Uzbekistan's key partners not only in Asia but globally as well. 

VH Group — the largest poultry conglomerate in India — plans to construct a bio-technical park in Kazakhstan, which will include a laboratory for production of vaccines. Total investment in Kazakhstan amounts to more than US$1 billion. Kazakh authorities have expressed readiness to support development of poultry farming and creation of a cluster. 

An exhibition "India - Uzbekistan: Dialogue of Cultures" was organized at National Museum to mark the state visit of Uzbek President to India on 30th September-1st October, 2018. The exhibition showcases   original artifacts from National Museum collection which include coins from royal mints of Kushans including coins depicting portraits of Kanishka, Huvishka, intricate manuscripts including miniature paintings from Baburnama etc.

Astana hosted ‘’The Spirit of Dance’’ festival, at city’s largest concert hall. Dance groups from 14 countries, including Azerbaijan, Canada, Georgia, Latvia, India, Ireland, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan participated. Renowned choreographer Sudarshan Chakravorty from India and his team performed in the prestigious festival.

ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas investment arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), plans to exit Kazakhstan's Satpayev block after it could not find commercially exploitable oil. OVL had in April 2011 bought 25% of Satpayev block. It paid US$13 million as signing amount to Kazakhstan and an additional US$80 million as a one-time assignment fee to KazMunaiGas, the national oil company of Kazakhstan. Satpayev was OVL's maiden entry into Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, its exploration campaign did not meet with success. 


September 30, 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.