GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

India’s Chabahar test + Immense opportunities after lifting of sanctions, says Modi

Issue

  • India-Iran relationship.

Context

  • Iran visit of PM Modi.

Direction of India’s Foreign Policy after economic reforms of 1991

    • Focus on mobilising external support for India’s rapid economic development
    • Engage all major powers
    • Normalise relations with the neighbours
    • Raise profile in the extended neighbourhood
    • And improve India’s international standing.

India’s relations with Iran

  • As the US sought India’s support in international forums against Iran, Delhi got into a funk, debating the issue in terms of non-alignment and strategic autonomy. In the end, the government was pragmatic enough to go along with the majority opinion of the international community rather than line up behind Iran and risk undermining its own nuclear deal with America.
  • The real challenge in India’s engagement with Iran was not about holding up the high principles of “strategic autonomy”, but of effectively navigating the international complexities surrounding economic and energy ties and seizing upon the few opportunities that were available for building a partnership under adverse conditions.
  • India’s performance here has been underwhelming.
  • India’s vote against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency on the nuclear issue has done a lot less damage than India’s inability to find practical ways to advance the relationship on the ground.

Silverlining

  • The current Government deserve credit for developing the necessary institutional mechanisms for India’s participation in the Chabahar project.

Importance of Chabahar project

  • The Chabahar project has the potential to alter the hostile regional geography that Delhi had inherited in 1947.
  • The partition of the subcontinent and Pakistan’s control of parts of Kashmir had left India without physical access to Afghanistan.
  • Pakistan, which resented Kabul’s special relationship with Delhi, had no desire to provide overland transit rights to India or facilitate an expansive cooperation between Afghanistan and India.
  • Chabahar’s significance also rose, as China began to develop Gwadar and unveiled ambitious plans for linking its far western province of Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea with a transport corridor running through Pakistan.
  • The successful launch of the Chabahar project allows India to circumvent the geographic limitations imposed by Partition and the enduring hostility with Pakistan.

Additional points

  • With Farzad-B [gas field], India has gone beyond the buyer-seller relationship to being genuine partners in the field of energy.
  • ONGC is in talks to secure development rights for the gas field it had discovered in 2008. It has already invested about $100 million in the project.
  • Taking concrete steps for enhancing regional connectivity has become one of the most important and promising dimensions of the growing cooperation between the two countries.
  • Chabahar port project has raised hopes for reordering India’s geopolitics to the north-west of the subcontinent.

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