Context: The 2nd meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue was held in the digital video-conference format  under the chairmanship of the External Affairs Minister of India. 

More on news:

  • Foreign Ministers of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Republic of Uzbekistan as well as First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic participated in the meeting. 
  • The Acting Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan attended the meeting as a special invitee.

Key takeaways:

  • Cooperation in COVID-19: The Ministers emphasized the need to continue close cooperation between the Sanitary and Epidemiological Services of India and the Central Asian countries in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic. 
  • Infrastructure: India is modernizing the infrastructure of the Chabahar port in Iran, which could become an important link in trade and transport communications between the markets of Central and South Asia.
  • Terrorism: 
    • The Ministers strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
    • They also reaffirmed the determination of their countries to combat this menace by destroying terrorist safe-havens, networks, infrastructure and funding channels. 
  • Afghan peace process: The Ministers called for the settlement of the Afghan conflict on the principle of Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process. 
  • Cultural and educational relations: The Ministers underscored the importance of humanitarian, cultural, educational and tourism cooperation between India and the Central Asian countries. 
    • Increasing tourism arrivals, creating tourism trails across the region, making the visa process simpler and encouraging investment in tourism infrastructure was emphasized. 
    • India hosted the training of Central Asian diplomats at the Sushma Swaraj Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi.

Initiatives Announced by India:

  • India is providing humanitarian medical assistance to their countries in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
  • India has provided a US$ 1 billion Line of Credit for priority developmental projects in fields such as connectivity, energy, IT, healthcare, education, agriculture etc. 
  • India is offering grant assistance for implementation of High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP) for furthering socio-economic development in the countries of the region.
  • The India-Central Asia Business Council (ICABC) 
    • The council was launched by the Government of India along with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
    • It is a B2B body under the India- Central Asia Dialogue, ICABC should promote business linkages, facilitate greater understanding of taxation, business regulations in India.

India-Central Asia Dialogue

  • It is a ministerial-level dialogue between India and the Central Asian countries - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
  • These five Central Asian States got their independence from the Soviet Union. 
  • These countries are also members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation except for Turkmenistan.
  • It is a platform for strengthening cooperation between India and the Central Asian countries in political, security, economic and commercial, spheres, regional and international issues of mutual interest.
  • The 1st meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue was held in Samarkand (Uzbekistan).

Line of credit

  • A line of credit is a type of loan that provides borrowers money they can draw from as needed. 
  • Once a borrower draws against a line of credit, they are responsible for making regular minimum payments to cover the interest accruing on the amount they draw. 
  • In addition to regular interest payments, borrowers can also repay part of what they borrowed against their line over time.

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Q) Discuss the significance of relations between India and Central Asian countries. Also suggest a way forward to improve the ties. (250 word)