The concluding session of the national seminar on India and Central Asia: Perspectives on Bilateral and Regional Cooperation was held on Friday at CRRID,Chandigarh.
The eminent panel on Friday listed the priorities,the challenges and the opportunities in Indian policy towards Central Asia,summing up the conference discussions. Ambassador Salman Haider chaired the session and highlighted issues covering polity,economy,and security of Central Asia in relation to India. His primary observation and concern was the lack of database on Central Asian studies.
So,the primary task of CRRID,discussed in Fridays session,is to develop a Central Asia database and creation of a separate website for Central Asia to further the research work. Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty,Special Secretary,Ministry of External Affairs (Public Policy Division) spoke about Indias interest in Central Asia and that India shall have a pragmatic approach while dealing with Central Asian countries. Though physical connectivity is a distant reality,it is worthwhile to focus on some issue,particularly telemedicine,for developing cooperation with the region, he said.
Professor PL Dash started with the fact that Central Asian states look north to Russia,east to China,west to Turkey but they do not look south and therefore to India. He listed capacity building,English language training and connectivity as potential areas of interest that India can offer to Central Asia. He further mentioned four tangible areas of concern which needs greater understanding,which included a mismatch between funding and opportunities in academic collaborations on the part of Central Asian states vis-à-vis India,India being a priority state in Information Technology for the Central Asian countries,the textile industry and agriculture and scientific opportunities.
PS Sahai marked the Pakistan Afghanistan Trade Transit Treaty and how India can make use of it or take advantage of it. He recommended building of expertise on Central Asia and the setting up of Indian cultural centres in other countries.
Colonel Subhas Bakshi listed security as a primary concern and suggested a detailed study of traditional and non-traditional security issues and the importance of Afghanistan post-2014.
Rajiv Sikri highlighted that Indias interest in Central Asia is primarily strategic as with population figures of just about 60 million people,trade potential remains limited. Indias Central Asian policy is linked to our Pakistan,China and Afghanistan policy. He emphasised the centrality of Xinjiang in Indias Central Asia policy.