IUP Publications Online
Home About IUP Magazines Journals Books Archives
     
Recommend    |    Subscriber Services    |    Feedback    |     Subscribe Online
 
The IUP Journal of International Relations :
Connectivity and Geopolitics: Factoring Iran in India-Central Asia Relations
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

India and Central Asian countries had incredibly long historical bonds, cultural interactions, economic and trade connections. These ties had been frozen with the replacement of Silk Route with the sea route. The British and the Russian colonial outstretch in the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia, respectively, further drifted them in opposite directions. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the emergence of independent Central Asian Republics (CARs), both the regions reconnected, but the strength and substance of the historical and civilizational relations have been rejuvenated with some policy frameworks on the part of both sides. However, the full potential of India’s ties with the Central Asian countries remains low due to the absence of land connectivity. To overcome this lacuna, several connectivity projects have been launched such as Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), and Chabahar Port (CP). But these projects have not been fructified for the given geopolitical dynamics. Against this background, the primary focus of this paper is to analyze the connectivity factor between India and Central Asia, how the geopolitical dynamics are effecting connectivity and how Iran could be a viable connectivity option between both the regions.

 
 
 

The Central Asia has always been held as of high strategic value for India. Geopolitical interests have obligated India and Central Asia to reconnect by reviving the rich legacy of historical and cultural contacts. This past affinity has been a bridge to develop mutually close and meaningful engagements. Trade was the motivating factor between India and the Central Asian regions throughout the recorded history. The resource-rich region is positioned at the interjunction of two great civilizations of the world and a gateway to Eurasia which further has made inevitable for India to reconnect with the region.

The Silk Route (114 BCE-1450s BCE), a bridge link between India and Eurasia had provided a powerful stimulus to the economic and cultural dimensions of the mutual engagements between the two regions. As far as India was concerned as regards Old Silk Route, the southern branch of the route had been passing through the Northern India. Indian merchants traversed long distances via Turkmenistan and the Caspian region to reach Kolkheti in the Black Sea (now in Georgia). The significance of the route was further highlighted by Joshi1 that the expansion and diversification of the caravan trade and the silk route led to the emergence of a strong Indian diaspora in the Central Asian region. However, these multifaceted interactions had enervated with the expansion of British rule in the Indian subcontinent and the Tsarist Russian (1721-1917) encroachment towards Central Asia. With the discovery of sea route, the British India had constructed numerous port cities such as Bombay (1870), Calcutta (1881), Madras (1881), and Kochi (1926) and thus, handling the Indian trade by the sea routes instead of earlier Silk Route which thwarted India’s presence in Central Asian Republics (CARs) because of the absence of connectivity via sea routes to Central Asia.

 
 
 

Connectivity and Geopolitics, Factoring Iran in India, Central Asia Relations