India – Central Asia Dialogue

India – Central Asia Dialogue


Why in news?

  • The 2nd meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue was recently held in the digital video-conference format between Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar and Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyz Republic.


Highlights of the meeting

  • Emphasis on the need to continue close cooperation against COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations: All states reaffirmed the determination of their countries to combat the menace by destroying terrorist safe-havens, networks, infrastructure and funding channels and also underlined the need for every country to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks against other countries.
  • Extension of support for a united, sovereign and democratic Republic of Afghanistan
  • Announcement of an additional $1 billion Line of Credit by India for Central Asian countries. It is expected that the money will be spent for major infrastructural and connectivity projects.
  • Appreciation of efforts to modernise the infrastructure of the Chabahar port in Iran, which could become an important link in trade and transport commuications between the markets of Central and south asia.
  • Announcement of grant financing by india for high impact community development projects in the countries.
  • Establishments of working groups by India Central Asia Business Council comprising the key members of all participating countries.


Importance of Central Asia to India

  • Mineral resources: Central Asian countries have abundant mineral resources such as petroleum, natural gas, antimony, aluminium, gold, silver, coal and uranium which can help ensure energy security for India. For example- Kazakhstan has the largest uranium reserves in the world.
  • Strengthening India’s role in Peace negotiations in Afghanistan: India has always advocated for resolution of the Afghan conflict on the principle of Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process, which can be facilitated by support from Central Asian countries.
  • Connectivity: Central Asia lies in the middle of the Eurasian Continent and can help India achieve connectivity to Europe. The region is important for India to develop its transit and transport potential through regional and international transport corridors such as the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
  • Economic opportunities: Central Asia is a huge consumer market for a range of goods and services, which can be provided by India including IT services, tourism, tea, pharmaceuticals etc.
  • Ensuring regional peace and stability: Instability in the region can have wide ranging implications for India due to regional proximity and effect on India’s overseas projects such as the TAPI pipeline.
  • Some critical issues faced by the region
  • Terrorism and radicalization with existence of terrorist safe-havens, networks, infrastructure and funding channels
  • Threat of the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) as the region remains highly vulnerable to the smuggling of fissile material for WMD Illegal Drug trade emanating from ‘Golden Crescent’ of opium production (Iran-Pak-Afghan)



  • Growing influence of China in Central Asia: China’s One Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) seems to be a credible threat to India’s objective on overcoming connectivity issues with Central Asia to ensure strengthened economic-political relations.
  • Lack of accessibility: India does not share physical borders with any of the Central Asian states and the unstable situation in Afghanistan, impact of US-Iran tensions on regional connectivity projects and India’s antagonistic relations with Pakistan has further complicated connectivity and trade prospects for India.
  • Domestic challenges faced by the region: emerging from religious extremism, authoritarian regimes, terrorism, ongoing conflicts etc is in itself a challenge in furthering India’s economic interests.


About India-Central Asia Dialogue

  • India holds this dialogue with five Central Asian countries- Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic. All the countries participating in the dialogue, except for Turkmenistan, are also members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
  • The 1st meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue held in January 2019 in Samarkand (Uzbekistan). Also, Afghanistan attended the 1st and 2nd meetings as a special invitee.
  • The dialogue provides a platform for strengthening cooperation between India and the Central Asian countries in political, security, economic and commercial, development partnership, humanitarian and cultural spheres as well as exchanging views on regional and international issues of mutual interest and enhancing cooperation under the framework of UN and other multilateral fora.


Efforts by India to enhance engagement in the Central Asia

  • Provision of US$ 1 billion Line of Credit: by India for priority developmental projects in fields such as connectivity, energy, IT, healthcare, education, agriculture etc. in Central Asia.
  • To facilitate transport of goods between India and Central Asia via Iran, India acceded to the Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets in 2017 and joined the Ashgabat Agreement – which includes Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – in 2018.
  • High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP): Under these projects India provides Grant assistance for furthering socio-economic development.
  • India-Central Asia Business Council (ICABC): It was launched in February 2020 and comprises the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and chambers of commerce from the 5 central Asian countries.
  • Hosting of Central Asian media delegation in India in April 2019.
  • The training of Central Asian diplomats at the Sushma Swaraj Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi in July 2019.
  • Annual International Dance Festival with a focus on Central Asia, organized by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) in New Delhi in December 2019.
  • The Indian Government in 2019, extended a line of credit of US$200 million, for military equipment to Kyrgyzstan seeks to modernise its defence systems.
  • In 2019, India signed a uranium supply agreement with Uzbekistan.



India and Central Asia face a myriad of common challenges like terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and such other issues. All these commonalities make them natural partner in their developmental journey and calls for greater cooperation in regional and global arena.

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