Turkmenistan used to be a part of the USSR, but when the USSR broke up in 1991, it declared its freedom.
Its largest river, the Amu Darya, forms its border with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Most of it is made up of deserts. It covers 488,100 square kilometres and is 650 kilometres wide from north to south and 1,100 kilometres wide from east to west.
Some cities, like Merv, which was one of the world’s biggest ancient cities at the start of the 13th century, and Urgench, which was a major centre of culture, had a big impact on architecture and art in all of central Asia and the rest of the world.
All over the country, hills and broken ruins show that this country has had a long and interesting history.
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Areas of Cooperation
The two countries have worked together in a number of areas, such as:
Politically, India and Turkmenistan also work together through the India-Central Asia Dialogue, which met for the last time in October 2020.
• Turkmenistan is important to India, which is clear from the fact that the Turkman gate was built in Delhi in the 1650s. In 1955, PM Nehru also went to Ashgabat. In 2015, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari made a second trip to mark the 20th anniversary of the “Permanent Neutrality” position, which is similar to that of the Non-Alignment Movement of India.
In the education field, Turkmen people living in India can get ITEC (Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation) training. Since the programme for Turkmenistan began in 1994, more than 400 Turkmen have been trained in different classes.
• It also gives scholarships from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to Turkmen kids who want to go to college.
• More than 300 students from Turkmenistan are getting their higher education at well-known universities in India right now. India set up a Hindi Chair at the Azadi Institute of World Languages in Ashgabat in 2010. This is where Hindi is taught to college students.
Turkmen people like to watch Indian films and TV shows. Turkmen people also have a special place in their hearts for Indian music.
• Turkmenistan has many places where Indian film festivals are held often. In May 2017, an event called “India Cultural Week” was held in Ashgabat to celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and Turkmenistan. The event included an exhibition, a dance show, a film festival, and a food festival.
• An Indian Tabla group went to Turkmenistan in April 2018 to take part in the International Scientific Conference and event “Ancient Cradle of Musical Art,” which was put on by the State Cultural Centre of Turkmenistan.
• In August 2019, a group of 14 people called “Bollywood Rockers” played in Turkmenistan. In December 2018, a group called “Galkynysh” from Turkmenistan came to India to take part in the International Folk Dance and Music Festival.
India has good trade ties and a good trade surplus. India’s main exports are raw hides and inorganic chemicals like iodine, while its main imports are electronics and electrical goods, machines, woven clothing, pharmaceuticals, frozen meat, and tyres.
The TAPI gas pipeline is the most important part of working together on energy.
Traditional Medicine and Yoga Centre:
In July 2015, the Hon’ble PM of India opened the first Yoga and Traditional Medicine Centre in Central Asia. It is in Ashgabat.
• A Yoga Teacher and an Ayurveda Expert from India have been sent to the centre to teach classes and give advice to people who are interested.
• Turkmenistan Airlines used to fly directly to New Delhi and Amritsar three times a week. These flights have been stopped because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Indian community in Turkmenistan:
• There aren’t many Indians living there. Most of them work in building as semi-skilled workers. In the oil and gas field, there are also a few engineers, professionals, and technicians. Turkmenistan does not have any Indian groups or Indian students.
Challenges in the Relation
• There aren’t enough interactions between people from the two countries. Turkmenistan doesn’t have a big Indian diaspora because the law there doesn’t let outsiders become citizens.
• The number of Indian workers has gone down because some projects that they were working on for foreign companies are now done.
• Turkmenistan does not have any Indian groups or Indian students.
• Concerns about connectivity: The rough terrain and the thorny border between India and Pakistan make it hard to connect, which makes it hard for India and the region to work together economically.
• Unrealized trade potential: Things like trade regulations that make it hard to do business and political instability can get in the way of trade.
• Security issues: Some of the security issues are radicalization, illegal movement, and the trafficking of drugs and substances that make people feel high.
• Turkmenistan should open up and make it easier for people from India and Turkmenistan to meet each other. This will be good for both countries.
• There is a lot of room for growth in trade, business, and security and defence cooperation.
Turkmenistan has also said it wants to look into the possibility of joining the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).
• The partnership between two countries gives them chances to beat others and go beyond bilateral relations because it is built on trust and teamwork.