India-Central Asia Current Affairs - 2019
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India and Tajikistan have signed four agreements in areas including on double taxation avoidance, money laundering and counter-terrorism.
These agreements were signed following delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon in New Delhi.
Signed agreements are
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Broadcasting in Exchange of Audio Visual Programs
- MoU for cooperation in the exchange of financial intelligence related to money laundering, related crimes and financing of terrorism.
- Protocol amending the Agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
- Announcement of initiation of Bilateral investment treaty between both countries.
Other highlights of bilateral delegation level talks
- Terrorism: Both countries agreed to deepen their engagement to deal with the threat of terrorism and radicalism in the neighbourhood especially in Afghanistan. Called to end sponsorship, support and provision of safe havens and sanctuaries to terrorists.
- CCIT: Both countries affirmed to resolve to work for early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the UN General Assembly.
- Security and Afghanistan: They called for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and national reconciliation for Afghan peace and prosperity.
- Agreed to intensify defence and counter-terror cooperation to stabilise Afghanistan
- UNSC: Tajikistan support India’s bid for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.
- Energy business: Tajikistan invited India to invest in four free economic zones that have come up in the country and thanked it for the modernisation of the Varzob-1 Hydropower Station. It also sought investment in the upcoming small and medium hydroelectricity projects.
- Connectivity: Need for exploring the possibility of increasing flight operations between the two countries. Appreciated signing of the trilateral Chahbahar port agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan as the project will provide connectivity to Tajikistan.
- People to people contact: Agreed to explore ways for easier business, medical and tourist and other visas to promote people to people exchanges.
India has been accorded full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) along with Pakistan at its Ufa summit held in Russia.
Technically, India and Pakistan will become the members of SCO by 2016 after completion of certain procedures.
This membership will help India to work with the 6 members grouping to enhance connectivity, combat terror and create an environment for boosting trade by easing barriers.
About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
- SCO is a Eurasian economic, political and military organisation.
- Headquarters: Beijing, China
- Established: 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders 6 countries viz. China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
- It is an outcome of The Shanghai Five grouping established in 1996 by Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
- SCO’s first enlargement was in 2001 with addition of Uzbekistan and second enlargement was in July 2015 with addition of 2 new members India and Pakistan.
- Presently it as four observers Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and
- Since 2005, India was having an Observer status of SCO and had applied for full membership in 2014.
SCO membership to India will have significant benefits in
- Economic view: Open up trade, energy sector and strategic transit routes for India between Russia, Central Asia and China.
- As Iran has observer status in the SCO, it will serve as a platform for India to boost trade through the Iranian ports of Bandar Abbas and Chabahar.
- These ports are considered as India’s gateway to Central Asia through International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
- Security grouping: SCO will provide platform for the security grouping for India and Pakistan especially on issue to counter terrorism.
- Provide a valuable interface to engage with security concern of Afghanistan especially its members including India due to pullout international troops.
- SCO may also serve as guarantor for projects such as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipelines, which are held by India due to security concerns.
- Balance in International Politics: In this politically polarised world, SCO will play an important role in counter-balancing India’s perceived tilt on security issues towards US and its allies. Thus, it can help to maintain full balance of India’s relations with the great powers globally.