Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country in central Asia that borders Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. It used to be a part of the Soviet Union, but when it broke up, it became an independent state with a liberal government and a privatised economy. It was even called the “island of democracy” in the post-Soviet space. But, unlike other countries in Central Asia, this one doesn’t have a lot of oil and gas.
• India has had close ties with Central Asian countries, especially those that were on the old Silk Route, like the Kyrgyz Republic. During the time of the Soviet Union, India and what was then called the Kyrgyz Republic didn’t have many political, economic, or cultural ties.
• India was one of the first countries to have formal ties with the Kyrgyz Republic. They did this in March 1992, and on May 23, 1994, they set up their resident mission there.
• The two countries’ official ties have been going on for 30 years as of 2022.
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Where we work together
India is seen by Kyrgyzstan as a big, successful model of democracy and equality with growing political and economic power, not just in Asia but around the world. After Kyrgyzstan switched to a parliamentary type of democracy, it wants to make its relationship with democratic India even stronger.
• The political relationship between the United States and the Kyrgyz Republic has always been warm and friendly. With Rajiv Gandhi’s trip to Bishkek and Issyk-Kul Lake in 1985 and the Festival of India in the USSR in 1987 and 1988, people and cultures were able to get to know each other better.
• When the Kyrgyz Republic became independent in 1991, India was one of the first countries to make formal ties with it in 1992.
• During Narsimha Rao’s visit, an important street in Bishkek was renamed after Mahatma Gandhi.
• Former Vice Presidents K.R. Narayanan and Krishna Kant went to Kyrgyzstan in September 1996 and August 1999, respectively.
• When the Indian Prime Minister went to the Kyrgyz Republic in June 2019, the two countries’ relationship became a strategic partnership.
15 agreements or papers were signed, including the Bilateral Investment Treaty, the Protocol amending the Agreement on Avoiding Double Taxation and Fiscal Evasion, and a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in Health, Information and Communication Technology, and Defence.
The level of the two countries’ relationships was changed to “Strategic Partnership.”During the visit, the Prime Minister also said that the Kyrgyz Republic would get a $200 million line of credit to help pay for growth projects.
During Prime Minister Modi’s visit in June 2019, a 5-year Road-map for Trade and Economic Cooperation was agreed upon. Its goal was to create the right conditions for faster growth of mutual trade, more product diversity, and more foreign investment.
• On April 20, 2019, the 10th India-Kyrgyz Republic Foreign Office Consultations were held in Bishkek.
In 2018-2019, trade between India and the Kyrgyz Republic was worth US$32.60 million. India sent $30.02 million worth of goods to the Kyrgyz Republic, while the Kyrgyz Republic sent $2.59 million worth of goods to India.
• The growth in Indian exports from one year to the next was 8.75%. Only 0.01% of India’s total exports went to the Kyrgyz Republic.
• Some of the most important things we send to Kyrgyzstan are clothes, leather goods, drugs and pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, and tea.
• Kyrgyzstan sends raw hides, metal-rich ores, and metal scrap, among other things, to India.
• In 2004, Kyrgyzstan joined the Trilateral Transit Agreement, which was signed in February 1997 by India, Iran, and Turkmenistan.
• In 1995, India gave Kyrgyzstan a $5 million line of credit to buy tools and machinery from India for projects that would be set up in Kyrgyzstan.
• The Indian government gave $2 million to Kyrgyzstan so that the SCO Summit could be held in Bishkek in June 2019.
• The Kyrgyz Republic is home to about 20 Indian businesses.
• India’s economic involvement in Kyrgyzstan is based on technical support through the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme. This is especially true when it comes to Human Resources Development (HRD).
Since 1992, more than 1274 workers from Kyrgyzstan have gone to India to get trained. For 2019-2020, 80 ITEC spots were given the go-ahead.
• The training programmes have helped build ability and improve human resource development in Kyrgyzstan. The training programme is based on what people want to learn, and the topics chosen cover a wide range of skills and fields in IT and Telecommunication.
Some examples of technical help given to the Kyrgyz side are an IT centre at the Kyrgyz State University of Construction, Transportation, and Architecture in Bishkek, a potato processing plant in Talas, a language laboratory at the Diplomatic Academy in Bishkek, tele-medicine links connecting six hospitals in Kyrgyzstan, Bhabhatron-II equipment, and an imaging simulator for treating cancer patients.
Culture and Education
• In 1992, the two countries signed a deal to start a cultural exchange scheme. It ran out in 2000 and needs to be renewed.
• Every year, India gives Kyrgyzstan grants through the General Cultural Scholarship Scheme of ICCR.
• In 1997, Osh State University opened the Centre for Indian Studies. This has helped academics and other smart people in Kyrgyzstan learn more about Indian culture and civilization.
• A Centre for Gandhian Studies was opened at the Bishkek Humanities University in 1996, and an India Centre was opened at the Kyrgyz State National University in Bishkek in 2004. Both of these things have helped higher education institutions in Kyrgyzstan learn more about India.
• The Kyrgyz Republic’s help for the Kyrgyz-India Mountain Bio-Medical Research Centre is appreciated by India.
• India has set up an AYUSH Centre (Centre of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy) in the Kyrgyz Republic to offer consultation and instruction in Traditional Indian medicine. This centre also sets up yoga camps for teachers from all over Kyrgyzstan.
• In March 2019, Yoga Caravan, Classical Indian dance, and a Vegetarian Indian food fair were held in Naryn, Karakol, and Bishkek to honour Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday. These events were put on by the ‘Altyn Taj’-India-Kyrgyz Friendship Society.
• The Kyrgyz armed forces have been getting help from India since 1997, when they signed an MoU on Military-Technical Cooperation.
• The two countries have been having joint military exercises called Khanjar. The most recent one was in 2018, and it was called Khanjar V.
• In August and September 2016, the third Joint India-Kyrgyz Army Mountaineering Expedition took place.
• India and Kyrgyzstan are building the Kyrgyz-Indian Mountain Training Centre together in the city of Balykchy in Kyrgyzstan’s Issyk-Kul District. This centre will teach and train members of the Armed Forces of the Kyrgyz Republic. It will also host joint mountain training drills between the Kyrgyz Republic and India.
Ties between countries
Political relations with the Kyrgyz Republic have always been warm and friendly. The Kyrgyz Republic helped India become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and it also backs India’s bid for a permanent place on the UN Security Council.
• Both countries are worried about extremism, terrorism, and drug crime.
Indian Community: • In Kyrgyzstan, about 4,500 Indian students study medicine at different medical schools. In Kyrgyzstan, there are only a few people who do business in trade and services.
• India and Kyrgyzstan are working together at a slow but steady rate. This needs to get better for the following reasons, so that both countries can move forward by working together.
• Getting closer to Kyrgyzstan will help India fight against China’s growing power and impact. It will help Kyrgyzstan become less dependent on China. Kyrgyzstan supports India’s bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Deeper cooperation between the two countries will help deal with the problems caused by terrorism and extremism around the world and in Asia. This is important for creating a safe and stable environment for peaceful economic growth.
Problems in the Relationships
China, Turkey, and CIS countries are all strong competitors for trade with India:
• Lack of connections and long, unreliable trade paths on the ground make it hard for India to sell its goods abroad.
• There haven’t been many Indian investments in Kyrgyzstan for a number of reasons, such as the lack of a good investment environment in the country and the fact that its banking system and financial institutions aren’t as well developed as they need to be in order to attract foreign direct investment and send profits back to India.
• The way visas work in Kyrgyzstan right now also makes it hard for Indian businessmen to travel there.
• There are often reports that Indian medical students at several universities in Kyrgyzstan are being extorted and harassed by the cops. Even though high-level diplomatic attempts have been made to increase India’s “soft power” in the area, there is growing tension between Indian medical students and Kyrgyz people.
• Kyrgyzstan has let China in too much, making it hard for India to compete.
• India should look into the idea of making weapons and testing them in Kyrgyzstan as part of a joint venture.
• The land of Kyrgyzstan has routes that go north to south and east to west.
• India should use Kyrgyzstan’s vast mineral resources and huge hydropower potential.
• India should get more involved with culture, especially in the Osh area.
• India needs to pay attention to and understand how the US and Russia use their air bases in the area.