Uzbekistan And India Coming Closer

The Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov was on a visit to India. He met with Indian External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj. The two ministers discussed the current issues on the bilateral agenda and specific issues of regional cooperation. Both sides noted the growing interest among Uzbek and Indian political, business and other circles in further strengthening cooperation between the two countries. Issues of creating conditions and mutual support of contacts between Uzbek and Indian entrepreneurs, representing leading companies were discussed.  However, the growing threat emanating from terrorism was one of the most important aspects of the discussions. 

Last year, Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev had declared 2018 as the year of “Year of supporting active entrepreneurship, innovative ideas and technologies”.  The 2018 theme is based on the strategy of actions on five priority areas of development of the country from 2017-2021. The focus will be on the development of research and innovation activities, the mobilization of necessary financial resources, the full support of the participation of gifted youth in this process, creative ideas and developments. 

The 21st century is witnessing 4.0 and 5.0 Industrial Revolution. The President of Uzbekistan understands the need of the time for which the 2018 was carefully crafted. In order to attract business from internal and external sources, Uzbekistan is giving priority to provide wide scale support to entrepreneurship, creating favorable conditions for entrepreneurs and significantly reducing various bureaucratic hurdles. Apart from the economic side, the social and political aspect of the country too needs to be strengthened.

To modernize his country, the Uzbek President has stressed on some important matters. He has spoken on the necessity of moving Uzbekistan towards democracy (where there would be a programme of practical measures), decentralization of power in the centre, increasing the role of the civil society in furthering democratic reforms and ensuring the protection of human rights and freedoms and also ensuring the rule of law. He has suggested that reforms of the judicial and legal systems should be done through the introduction of the “Habeas Corpus” institute apart from other forms of changes.

Based on the 2018 concept; the Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister’s visit to India holds significance.

 Uzbekistan’s focus is in developing itself. However, at the same time, Tashkent understands that in order to see the country develop in a peaceful and prosperous manner, peace and stability in the region is necessary. The biggest threat the country and the region faces is from terrorism and organized crimes. With the alliance between the home grown terrorist groups such as IMU with IS, Taliban and Al Qaeda, the Uzbek government understands the gravity of the matter. The threat to stability and security in the region from terrorism is being fought at many multilateral regional initiatives that are being established in the region and Uzbekistan is a member of many such bodies. India shares age old ties with Uzbekistan and is working on various forums with Tashkent to address complex issues.

Tashkent is a member of Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) apart from others. The upcoming operationalisation of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) opens up a huge opportunity for the country. Hence, Uzbekistan is simultaneously modernizing itself as well as trying to take diplomatic initiatives in the region through its strategic partnerships with the major powers at both global and regional levels. Tashkent is playing a balancing role with the important countries like India whose actions directly influence the smaller countries.  Small countries face a dilemma because of their strategic location makes them vulnerable.

India is trying to strengthen its strategic partnership with Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries significantly because of her economic and diplomatic interests. India is a growing economic power that is helping the Central Asian countries in many fields. However, New Delhi faces threat from organized crime and terrorism. Maintaining a balanced relationship with countries like Uzbekistan is part of its foreign policy. The bilateral economic, cultural and security ties needs to be further augmented. The relations between India and Uzbekistan thus have got a fillip with the New Delhi visit of Uzbek Foreign Minister Kamilov.

Script: Dr. Indrani Talukdar, Strategic Analyst on Russia & CIS