India’s engagement with Central Asian countries should be viewed from both a geocultural and geostrategic perspective. Along with this, the growth of bilateral mutual trade and economic cooperation will certainly add substance to the existing relationship.
India’s geopolitical engagement with Central Asia is shaped by four major structural perspectives. These are: a) the fallout from the Afghan security situation on Central Asia; b) a relatively weakened Russia, especially in pursuing its policy towards Central Asia, which Moscow once considered its “soft underbelly”; (c) the rise of China in Central Asia, which poses a major threat to regional security and stability in this region; (d) the diminished interest shown by Western countries, especially after the withdrawal of NATO troops from war-torn Afghanistan and the seizure of power by the Taliban.
From the above perspectives, five main geopolitical interests for India can be defined. These are: a) to strengthen geopolitical engagement with Central Asia within a geocultural framework; b) cooperate with Central Asian countries to counter radicalism, extremism and drug trafficking from Afghanistan; (c) India’s Connectivity Strategy with Central Asia; d) failure and checkmate of the process of hegemonization of China in the region; and (e) articulate a cooperative geopolitical approach in the geopolitical space of Central Asia.