Wednesday, July 8, 2015

PM Modi's Central Asia sojourn: A Game changer

Diplomacy is also known as an instrument of winning new friends and enhancing trust with old friends. Carrying his distinct imprint on India’s foreign policy frame work forward, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a crucial visit of Central Asian countries. PM Modi is right on his track.

He has already visited Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, whom he has rightly described as India’s “valued friend”. In the recent past Central Asia has remained only a sub-text in Indian foreign policy paradigm as New Delhi remained largely engaged in South Asia and also big powers like the US and Russia and partly BRICS.

Therefore, Prime Minister Modi’s maiden visit to these Central Asian countries has raised positive vibes more than curiosity. 
Namo at the L.N Gumilev National Univrsity, Astana, Kazakhstan

Many are already calling it a likely game-changer. 
At Astana, Kazakhstan capital, Modi only articulated his keenness for making forward movement in the ties when he said India and Central Asia have influenced each other profoundly over the last 2000 years.

In Uzbekistan too, Prime Minister set the ball rolling on the right track by stating at a joint press conference with Uzbek President Islam Karimov that India’s  relationship with the region has ancient roots and left a strong imprint on both.

“It now occupies a significant place in India’s future,” Quote-Unquote he said to an enthusiastic response from his hosts.
Besides these two countries and also Russia where he is to attend the BRICS summit and also the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Ufa, Modi will also visit Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Observers see the visit to strategically located region as critical because besides providing access to hydrocarbons and uranium, these former Republics of erstwhile Soviet Union can be helpful in dealing with terror threats in the region.

Modi paying tribute at the bust of Lal Bahadur Shastri at Tashkent, Uzbekistan  
PM Modi has himself given confirmation to the significance of ties with countries like Uzbekistan, when he held very productive discussions with President Karimov. Both sides agreed for expanding economic cooperation, combating terrorism, advancing stability and promoting regional integration. 

In Tashkent, among other agenda, the Prime Minister paid tributes to Lal Bahadur Shastri’s memorial as the former Prime Minister had breathed his last in that country. He thanked Uzbekistan profoundly for preserving the legacy of India’s second Prime Minister.Crucial part of his interactions was with Indologists, Hindi language students and Indian community members.
Modi also released the first Uzbek-Hindi dictionary along with his Uzbek counterpart and Indologist Rakhmatov.

He said importance of Hindi language will increase further internationally as India is on course of economic advancement. Noting that the pacts inked between India and Uzbekistan in the field of culture and tourism will bring people of the two countries closer, Modi said, “Few countries can match Uzbekistan in nurturing Hindi and Indian culture”.

President Karimov and Prime Minister Modi also reached understanding on a wide range of issues to further deepen Uzbekistan-India strategic relations. The two leaders discussed ways to implement the contract for supply of uranium from Uzbekistan signed last year.
Modi with Kazakh PM Karim Massimov 

The pact was signed for supply of 2,000 metric tonnes of Uranium.

At Astana in Kazakhstan capital, in his address at the Nazarbayev University, Modi said India’s engagement with Central Asia has been short of promise and added that he is determined to change it with closer cooperation.

India is at the crossroads of Asia’s land and sea routes, Prime Minister said while emphasizing that his government is already working with a sense of priority to connect well to both the East and the West. 
And thus success of connectivity through and across Central Asia is important, he said.

He inaugurated the India-Kazakhstan Centre of Excellence in Information and Communication Technology.
National Monument of Independence & Humanism:Tashkent
Addressing CEOs from India and Kazakhstan at a business meet, Prime Minister Modi urged Kazakhstan to participate in India's "Make in India" initiative, Smart Cities and urban infrastructure programmes. Indian oil firms could invest with new technologies in Kazakhstan's vast energy sector as also there could be cooperation in agriculture and milk production.

True, expertise in diplomacy calls for creating opportunities where none might exist. In Indian case too, the journey has been tales of lost opportunities.
Prime Minister Modi’s outreach in the neigbourhood and also Central Asian countries thus would seek to achieve a few multi-dimensional goals for India. 


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