Central Asia : Challenges for India – UPSC GS2

Context: India’s participation in initiatives such as inauguration of India-Central Asia Summit, the India-Central Asia Dialogue, and the Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan indicate India’s renewed enthusiasm in the Central Asian region.
Significant Aspects of India’s Engagement in Central Asia:
  • Great power dynamics:
    • The decline of American presence and power in the broader region has led to a reassertion by China and Russia seeking to fill the power vacuum.
  • Focus on Afghanistan:
    • India’s engagement in Central Asia would also help it to consolidate its post-American Afghan policy.
  • Significance of Tajikistan:
    • Given its location bordering Afghanistan as well as its close geographical proximity to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Tajikistan holds immense geopolitical significance for India.
  • Role of Russia:
    • In India’s current vision for a regional security architecture, Russia appears prominent.
    • This growing India-Russia partnership also explains India’s non-critical stance on the developments in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
  • Economic and Energy Security:
    • India has major geostrategic and economic interests in this region.
    • Central Asia can be a future source of energy for India.
What are the Challenges for India?
  • India has limited economic and other stakes in the region, primarily due to lack of physical access.
  • China is the region’s most important economic partner, a reality that worries Russia and sharpens India’s relative irrelevance in the region.
  • There are mounting security concerns in Central Asia and South Asia over rising cross-border and state sponsored terrorism; religious extremism and ethnic unrest, radiating out of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Accessing the oil and gas from Central Asia remains the major difficulty. It’s prohibitive cost is the major issue of consideration.
  • Another problem that confronts India, Russia and CARs is that of drug trafficking. A lucrative drugs trade in Central Asia poses a major threat to stability in Central Asia.
Central Asia’s location, its geographical proximity to India, ancient linkages render the region highly relevant to India’s strategic interests. India has a huge goodwill in Central Asia.
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