India and Tajikistan: Building a long-term Strategic Partnership | Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses

Posted: October 6, 2012 in Tajikistan

 

September 18, 2012

India-Tajikistan relations received a fresh impetus during the state visit of President Emomali Rahmon to India from 1-4 September 2012. This was President Rahmon’s fifth visit to India, during which he held detailed discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Pranab Mukherjee, and Vice President Hamid Ansari. The leader of the opposition, Sushma Swaraj, called on the President of Tajikistan.

President Rahmon’s visit has not only strengthened existing ties but has also resulted in building a long-term strategic partnership. According to the joint statement issued during his visit, India and Tajikistan have “decided to elevate their bilateral relations to the level of a long-term strategic partnership.” This strategic partnership is expected to increase cooperation in a wide spectrum of areas – political, economic, health, human resources development, defence, counter-terrorism, science and technology, culture and tourism. President Rahmon’s visit can be analysed in the context of the recent trajectory of the India-Tajikistan relationship and the concrete outcomes which are expected to result from the new strategic partnership agreement inked between the two countries.

The significance of President Rahmon’s visit lies in India’s effort to accord Tajikistan a more prominent position in India’s foreign policy towards Central Asia. Tajikistan continues to remains a significant partner for India in the region. Political and strategic relations between the two countries can be termed as excellent. However, economic and trade ties remain the unsatisfactory part of an otherwise fruitful relationship. Although India’s total trade with Tajikistan has gone up from US $10.7 million in 2004-05 to $41.33 in 2010-11, these figures are much below the potential that exists. This was recognised during President Rahmon’s visit, when both sides agreed that there is need to enhance trade and investment relations. In this context, President Rahmon addressed a business meeting organised jointly by ASSOCHAM, CII and FICCI. He also invited India to invest in Tajikistan’s free economic zones.

Tajikistan’s importance for India lies in its geo-strategic location; it shares borders with China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan and is located in proximity to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). In India’s regional security calculus, Tajikistan assumes a significant place, especially in the context of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The infiltration of extremist forces into Tajikistan can have serious security implications for India because of its proximity to PoK and the likely impact of this on the situation in Kashmir.

In addition to its strategic location, Tajikistan is rich in hydroelectric power. It has the largest natural water resources in the region. In fact, 90 per cent of the water resources of Central Asia lie in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Tajikistan has more than 65 per cent of the glaciers in the region. It is second largest producer of hydroelectricity in the Commonwealth of Independent States, after Russia. The country’s hydroelectric potential, according to official figures, is about 40,000 MW, which is around four per cent of the world’s hydroelectric potential. According to the official report Tajikistan’s National Strategy for Energy Sector Development 2006-2015, the country is likely to reach a production of 35 billion Kwh in 2015. Tajikistan also has deposits of more than 40 semi-precious stones, gold and silver. There are large reserves of mercury, brown coal, lead, zinc, antimony and tungsten, and uranium deposits. These resources make Tajikistan a significant country in the region that offers many opportunities to India.

India and Tajikistan share close defence and security relations. India has upgraded the Ayni airport near Dushanbe, which is fully operational now. There is ongoing cooperation in the defence sector where India is providing training to Tajik forces with large numbers of Tajik military cadets and young officers undergoing training at various defence training institutes in India. This military training is offered free of charge to Tajik military personnel.

President Rahmon’s visit is also indicative of the mutual desire on the part of the two countries to raise the relationship to a new level marked by greater goodwill, trust and confidence. Six important documents inked in the area of Culture, Education, Sports, Textile, Labour and Family Welfare are indicative of the continued effort on the part of the two countries to further cement their relationship. These six agreements are:

  1. Programme of cooperation (POC) signed between their Ministries of Culture for the year 2012-2015, to facilitate exchange of material in culture and art, specialists, promotion of cultural heritage, performing art groups, art exhibitions and holding of days of culture in each other’s country.
  2. Programme of Cooperation between the two governments in the field of education, to facilitate close contact between the educational institutions of the two countries including enhanced exchange of scholars, teachers and conducting joint research as well. More importantly, a Joint Working Group (JWG) has been set up to facilitate the speedy implementation of the agreement.
  3. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of Sports, to provide a framework of cooperation in the field of sports and youth development and participation in youth festivals, etc.
  4. MoU between Tajikistan’s Ministry of Energy and Industry and India’s Ministry of Textiles, which envisages enhancing trade and economic relations in the field of textiles, clothing and fashion including research and development, investment cooperation and the promotion of export of textiles in each other’s market. Here again, a JWG has been established to ensure smooth implementation of the MoU.
  5. Cooperation between the two countries in the field of Social and labour relations is yet another step towards cementing bilateral ties.
  6. Agreement between India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Tajikistan’s Ministry of Health, to provide for exchange of information and experts in health, training, attending international meetings and also setting up of diagnostic Centre, training of medical professionals and promotion of medical tourism to India. Again, to monitor the implementation of the agreement, a JWG has been set up.

India and Tajikistan: Building a long-term Strategic Partnership | Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

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