India had invited the leaders of five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to be the collective Chief Guests at India’s Republic Day parade and celebrations on the 26th of the month, but on January 18, 2022, news broke that the ‘Stans’ of Central Asia were not coming after all.
In the wake of the surge in Covid infections, India cancelled the plan and has decided to have a virtual meet instead, eports India Today.
It had been a tactical move on New Delhi’s part to invite the leaders of all five nations to be co-chief guests at the parade as the five ‘Stans’ are considered very crucial to an energy-hungry India. The Central Asian countries between them have huge reserves of oil, natural gas and uranium that India, with its very high energy import dependency, simply cannot ignore.
Over the past 30 years, since the time the ‘Stans’ stopped being Soviet Socialist Republics and became independent nations in their own rights, India has tried to develop strategies to harness their resource potential.
India was one of the first countries to accord recognition to the newly independent ‘Stans’ and the then Prime Minister of India Narasimha Rao visited the region twice, once in 1993 and then again in 1995, and trade and security treaties were signed. But despite three decades having passed, trade between India and the region still hovers around a relatively paltry $2-billion mark where China, whose influence has been growing in the last decade, in comparison, trades goods worth over $100 billion.
Source: United News of Bangladesh