This paper focuses particularly on Kazakhstan-India relations. Kazakhstan is celebrating its 25th anniversary of the state independence and sovereignty and this 25th anniversary is an excellent occasion to stare at how Kazakhstan-India relation is structuring since 1991. It is a known fact that historically, present day Kazakhstan is the result of centuries-long emerging and fading of tribes in the vast steppe between the Altai and Volga. The economic restructuring efforts undertaken by Kazakhstan after its independence were also accompanied by various reforms in the political arena. Kazakhstan became a constitutional republic with a strong accent on the principles of national identity and political stability. Distinct from other Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan is now constant both politically and socially due to its enormous political direction. In this context this paper deliberates the prospectus and challenges in KazakhstanIndia relation.
As far as ancient relation is concerned between two countries the Saka tribe and Silk Road played a significant role to establish a strong relationship between the peoples of two regions. Flow of knowledge and idea through Buddhism and Sufism also played very important role between two regions.
India and Kazakhstan contribute to general observations about necessitate to have companionship and reciprocally valuable mutual relations. India recognized the independence of Kazakhstan in 1992. After that to fortify their diplomatic ties a number of high level visits between India and Kazakhstan, have been exchanged on a regular basis. India-Kazakhstan Inter-Governmental Commission established in 1992 has been instrumental in developing bilateral trade, economic, scientific, technological, industrial and cultural cooperation.
India was the first country outside Commonwealth Independent States CIS region visited by President Nazarbayev after independence of Kazakhstan. The choice of India as the first foreign country of his visit was not coincidental for President Nazarbayev. The first new Embassy of India in Central Asia was opened in 1992 in Almaty and Kazakhstan opened its Embassy in New Delhi in 1993. After this there is several official visits took place as Vice-Presidents of India Shri K.R. Narayanan and Shri Hamid Ansari visited Kazakhstan in 1996 and 2008 respectively. Prime Ministers Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Dr. Manmohan Singh visited Kazakhstan in June 2002 and April 2011. These high level visits have laid a solid foundation for close and friendly bilateral relations between the two countries. The significant one was pursuance of the State Visit of President Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev to New Delhi in January 2009 and the adopted Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the Republic of India and Republic of Kazakhstan, it was agreed to further strengthen the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
Kazakhstan is supportive of India’s permanent membership to UNSC. Kazakhstan also cooperates with India in the field of counter terrorism and had condemned the Mumbai attacks in 2008. India and Kazakhstan actively cooperate under the aegis of Multilateral Fora including CICA, Sanghai Cooperation Organisation SCO and the UN organizations. India has been a consistent supporter of Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and is actively participating in the process. CICA is the only Central Asian forum of which India is a member.
The economic restructuring efforts undertaken by Kazakhstan after its independence were also accompanied by various reforms in the political arena. The complementary changes in the political and social landscape further support the economic growth in this emerging market by providing a stable business environment for foreign investors.
Kazakh economy has established a remarkable rate of growth in the recent years. This tendency is expected to persist in the next decade as a result of the country’s economic reforms and strategic expansion plans, which attract foreign direct investment to Kazakhstan. Furthermore, the profusion of valuable natural resources along with the prospects from oil reveals a vivid position for the future economic situation in Kazakhstan.
It is known fact that Kazakhstan’s economic strength depends on mainly gas and oil and economic stability has had enormous effect on social and political life in Kazakhstan. The future of the Kazakhstan economy is closely connected with further amalgamation into international economic relations, competent use of reserves of hydrocarbon and mineral resources, export of industrial and agricultural products and the best possible consumption of country’s transit impending and highly qualified human resources. Last 25 years since independence, Kazakhstan has stimulated from a centrally planned economy to a market economy. Kazakhstan has made substantial progress in implementing composite political, economic and social reforms to establish a politically stable environment. In this context India in 2012 declared policy named “Connect Central Asia” to strengthen the relationship with central Asian countries.
Most significant development took place between two countries when at the invitation of Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India, paid an official visit to the Republic of Kazakhstan on July, 2015. Leaders of both countries agreed that the visit of Prime Minister Modi would serve to expand the strategic partnership for the benefit of people of both countries. Prime Minister Modi congratulated President Nazarbayev for impressive all-round socio-economic development and progress achieved by Kazakhstan, as well as its important role in promoting regional and international peace and security.
Prime Minister Modi valued the initiative of President Nazarbayev on institutionalization of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), which has emerged as an important organisation strengthening peace, stability and security in Asia and noted Kazakhstan’s efforts on transformation of the CICA to the Organisation on Security and Development in Asia. President Nazarbayev expressed gratitude for India’s continued support of CICA’s activity and contribution to the Conference.
They signed of several agreements in the several areas like defence and military-technical cooperation, agreements between the Chamber of Foreign Commerce of Kazakhstan and Federation of Chambers of Commerce of India (FICCI), Memorandum of Understanding between JSC «Kazxnex Invest» and JSC «Invest India», which includes a “Road Map” on Trade, Economic and Investment Cooperation, establishment of Joint Study Group between India and the Eurasian Economic Union on the feasibility of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), collaborate closely in the framework of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) as well as through bilateral initiatives to improve surface connectivity between two countries and the wider region, agreement that the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran rail-link, operationalised in December 2014, become a linked corridor of the INSTC, and Memorandum on Mutual Understanding on Technical Cooperation in the sphere of railways between the NC “Kazakhstan Temir Zholy” JSC and the Ministry of Railways of India. They also signed an agreement to inauguration of the Kazakhstan IndiaCentre of Excellence in Information and Communication Technologies at the L.N. Gumilev Eurasian National University in Astana with India’s assistance.
Defence, Civil Nuclear Energy and Hydrocarbons are three major fields where India can have immense collaboration between India and Kazakhstan. The extent of bilateral trade between India and Kazakhstan is however insignificant. It is characterized by two features: One, Kazakhstan is the principal trading associate of India among the Central Asian countries, approximately accounting for more than 70 per cent of total trade between India and the CARs. Second, trade has recently registered a faster growth than earlier. Kazakhstan’s main exports consist of mineral products, leather and raw materials while imports from India include tea, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, plastic, machinery and equipment.
There are several areas like cooperation in fields of fertilizers production, setting up of petrochemical complex, thermal power plants, Entrepreneurship Development center etc. Agreements in the fields of Agriculture, Health, Culture, Science and Technology and Education etc are currently under consideration by both sides.
Kazakhstan has also revealed a keen attention in strengthening military ties with India, particularly enhancing its arms exports and aerospace alliance. In its 2006 defence policy document Kazakhstan decided on the Indo-Pacific region, including India as export markets. Besides this Kazakhstan’s largest crop is wheat which is exports. It ranks as the sixth largest wheat producer in the world. During the Visit of Vice President of India to Kazakhstan in April 2008 where in agriculture was identified as a promising area of cooperation, both the sides recommended signing of an Agreement on cooperation in agriculture and allied sector between the relevant ministers as an important step in this direction.
Indian Small and Medium Enterprises after establishing their existence in the pharmaceutical and tea markets of Kazakhstan are now planning to venture into the country’s Information Technology (IT) sector. In addition to the government initiatives, Indian SMEs are also recommended to tap Kazakhstan’s IT market by offering new technologies like IP technology, Linux for critical applications and by formulating database for their domestic IT firms. It is one of the important sectors where India can accentuate.
Kazakhstan has sought India’s assistance in setting up of industrial clusters in textiles and cooperation in areas of hi-technology and financial services. Kazakhstan has a massive scope for textile trade between the countries, as there was a stable resource base, coupled with good logistics, and banking infrastructure in Kazakhstan. The pharmaceutical industry in Kazakhstan provides a market of $550 million. So this is an appropriate time for Indian pharmaceutical industries to venture there on a large scale.
Soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan was considered the most potentially unstable postSoviet state. Despite certain difficulties of first few years, Kazakhstan has managed to ensure economic and social development based on democratic priorities. Barring few incident of inter-ethnic strife, it has managed to preserve stability of the country and unity of the people and happily celebrated the twenty five years of their independence.
In the recent years, Kazakhstan has appeared as a deafening market with a fortunate evidence of economic growth. This striking economic progress demonstrates the country’s success in its smooth transition to a market economy. The elementary changes assumed in different parts of the trade atmosphere have created encouraging situation for other countries that would like to enter into the Kazakh market. Yet, there linger expected challenges for cooperation with Kazakhstan because of stalking from its precedent political, economic, and social systems. Therefore the strength of the post Soviet Kazakhstan and prospects of cooperation with India will depend on its mature leadership and citizenship and a civil society that is mindful of its common interest and democratic principles. There is no doubt that both the countries have potential for cooperation in various fields.