Kazakhstan and India: reasons of mutuality and common spheres of interests

Kairzhan S. Abdykhalykov,

Ph.D, Department of International Relations

& Foreign Policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan,

Kazakh National University named after Al-Farabi

Relations between Kazakhstan and India are the most important orientation of foreign policy. Nowadays India is one of the dynamically developing countries in Asia.  According to experts India and China will be able to play leading role in overcoming global world crisis not only on Asian continent and also in world arena. In this connection during the post crisis period India will be able to become a real economic leader of Asia and influential economic power in the world. Nowadays, India plays dominating role in political and economic relations in South Asia, Indian Ocean basin and also in the countries of South-Eastern Asia. India begins to pay rapt attention to Central Asian region for increasing influence and interest spheres in new energetic recourses. Based on given postulates India naturally begins to take on special significance on international scene. Consolidation of mutual relations between Kazakhstan and India is a natural result of the globalization of international relations. The Republic of Kazakhstan also begins to gain a positive political and economic authority not only in its region and post-soviet area and also in Asia and Europe.

So, increasing influence spheres at the end of the 20th and at the beginning of 21 centuries, and also consolidation of regional and international positions of Kazakhstan at that time have given necessary development mechanisms for two-sided relations. It is necessary to say that relations between Kazakhstan and India developed in 90s of the 20th century but the basics of intergovernmental mutual relations have been laid before. However, relations between Kazakhstan and India haven’t had such impulse which would help to have more many-sided character. After gaining independence by Kazakhstan, former early cultural ties between Kazakhstan and India were developed in inter-state dialogue on political and economic levels. However, a certain geographical position of both countries, the economic crisis of 1990 and the specific political conflicts around Indian and Kazakh borders at the Middle East, failed to develop full bilateral political and economic relations between Kazakhstan and India. In view of that Indian direction of external policy of Republic Kazakhstan recently was considered to be important, but it was not full priority problem. However, at the beginning of the 21st century situation in bilateral cooperation began to be gradually improved. Such factors as a change in the historical background in Central Asia region and strengthening of economic power of India in this region played an important role. Why did Kazakhstan and India begin to develop actively their relations at the beginning of 21st century? Why did they have mutual interest to each other? There are some main reasons.

The first reason is that to the beginning of 21st century India by its increased economic potential became a real regional economic power and it was pretended to be world power. For increasing economic potential India chose right development strategy of the development of such innovation branch of economics as information technologies sector.  

The second reason based on the first reason is that India began to need more new raw materials and energy suppliers for expanding of consumable resources. Kazakhstan and also Central Asia were attracted by India not only politically and also economically.

The third reason is that foreign policy of Kazakhstan after ten years of its existence has become to play active role in Asian orientation. At the beginning of 21 century Kazakhstan has become to strengthen its positions and pay special significance to the Asian orientation of its foreign policy (including Asian Pacific Ocean Region, countries of the Middle East and South Asia).

The fourth reason based on the third reason is that Asian models of economic and political development are more receptive and acceptable in state development of Kazakhstan in comparison with European models (for example Singapore, Malaysia, India, Taiwan and others). Kazakhstan is interested to get new technologies and necessary experience in the further realization of liberal political and economic reforms. According to its multi-vector foreign policy Kazakhstan wants to have technological cooperation not only with western countries and also with rapid developing countries of South, East and South-Eastern Asia. 

So Kazakhstan can take new technologies from India and India needs to have raw materials from Kazakhstan. There has been an interesting formula. According to it relations between Kazakhstan and India have been developing. The result is that Kazakhstan and India have understood the importance of being equitable partners. The fact of evolution of Indian position in the relations between Kazakhstan and India was very interesting at the beginning of 1990. India paid special significance to Kazakhstan as a new nuclear power but after renunciation of nuclear power the relations between Kazakhstan and India became less intensive. At that time India was weaker, didn’t need any raw materials and also it couldn’t compete with West and Central Asia. However, the situation began to change at the beginning of this century when economic potential of India has been increased and India has begun to press towards the presence in Central Asia. In connection with this fact, India has begun to attract attention to the possibility of more diverse relationship with the countries of Central Asia, and primarily with the rapidly developing Kazakhstan. Given position affected on the revision of traditional categories of Indian foreign attention. And now India pays attention to Kazakhstan not only former nuclear power, but also in connection with fact that Kazakhstan is the most dynamically developing and attractive Central Asian country for India.

Before the beginning of the 21st century Kazakhstan didn’t pay any attention to Indian and Southern Asian orientation of its foreign policy. However, the situation began to change when Kazakhstan was able to raise its economic potential and began to realize the politics of economic modernization. So policy of Kazakhstan particularly became also more weighed and judicious after overcoming of crisis phenomena of 1990s. Kazakhstan understood that its multiple view ness is not only a declaration, but also a specific program of action, according to which India, with its rapid economic growth and wealth of experience in economic and political reforms could be a useful model for further state development of Kazakhstan.

Aspiration of Kazakhstan for being one of the Fifty most developed and competitive world economics has prompted to worry about the development of scientific and technical potential of the Republic not only by means of foreign investments as in 1990s and also by means of technological transfer or technological cooperation with foreign currency. To get not only foreign financial help and also modern technology is a new task for Kazakhstan in the field of attracting foreign direct investment. Aspiration for having modern technologies in the field of production and service has become important factor for Kazakhstan to see India as a potential partner and obvious example of the realization of economic modernization processes.

Kazakhstan and India situated at the same continent and at the neighboring regions have common spheres of interest where there are a lot of perspective orientations of foreign policy of both countries. It is necessary to point out that Kazakhstan and India will have such kind of interests. So these interests will have to be necessary basis for the further development of relations between Kazakhstan and India. 

Common spheres of interests of two countries can be divided into two categories: political and economic. Main political spheres of interests of Kazakhstan and India can be divided into following factors:

1. Interest in suppression and non-proliferation of religious, inter-confessional, international, ethnic extremist, and other negative events. This interest is mutual for Kazakhstan and India because the countries are poly-ethnic and multi-confessional. One has a choice to have its own religion. Religious freedom is an essential value of democracy and no one prohibits or impedes in religious questions. But sometimes religious freedom can do much harm to the state. So, using this freedom many aggressively inclined religious trends can do much harm not only to the domestic development of the society and also to the international image of the state. That is why when the country sees such harmful politics it will begin to prevent from this influence. All these factors will be able to lead to negative collisions and destabilization of international position. Simple example was in 1980 when India fought against the Sikh extremists and its negative international and domestic consequences. One more example happened in Kazakhstan was unskillful attempt of Almaty oblast district powers to cut down the krishnayat sect influence. Some international remedial organizations had negative statements upon Kazakhstan according to the accident. So political interest in peaceful regulation of religious and ethic conflicts is mutual for Kazakhstan and India. 
2. Principal similarity of Indian politics of non-alignment and multi-vector foreign policy of Kazakhstan. Speaking about India it is possible to say that the bases of foreign policy of India were laid down in the middle of the 20th century give the chance to India to maneuver with the framework of non-alignment policy between the world’s centers of power. Speaking of Kazakhstan it can be said that the multi-vector foreign policy of Kazakhstan provides the opportunity of needed flexibility in the relationship between the world’s centers of power. Two similar features multiple view ness and non-alignment of foreign policy of two countries are the important elements in the construction of economical, independent and politically free national states
Based on foregoing principles the governments of Kazakhstan and India are interested to increase the role of one super state and transform international politics into multi-polar system where the leading regional states can make decisions on behalf of all world regions. Here Kazakhstan and India aspire to strengthen the role of United Nations Organization with help of world-wide system “reforming”. International activity of this organization plays decisive role in the decentralization of modern world-wide system. It is necessary to say that Kazakhstan relies on its activity in the framework of Organization of Safety and Cooperation in Europe except its workmanship in UNO. The chairmanship of Kazakhstan in OSCE next year will show that developing post-soviet and Asian world countries begin to play more independent role in world politics.

As well, the chairmanship of Kazakhstan in OSCE will show and give hope for other developing Third World countries to understand that world-wide system is not only solved in “Washington White House”. World-wide system is transformed into multi-polar system, and the first summit of BRIC (Brasilia, Russia, India and China) which took place in Yekaterinburg in June, 2009 is a striking practical example. In this connection Kazakhstan following obvious example of India and other transitional countries has all chances to become a notable regional power which is economically and politically charged with regional processes in Central Asia.

3.  Based on foregoing factors there is a factor of mutual development of processes in the region where Kazakhstan and India are situated. Establishment of customs’ alliance, united economic zone in the framework of CIS and EEC, strengthening military constituent of CSTO, expansion of SCO activity are last initiatives of Kazakhstan. These initiatives say that Kazakhstan is interested to have friendly relations with neighboring countries and has a desire to strengthen regional cooperation. India has also a desire to activate integration processes of rapprochement in South and South-Eastern Asia. Establishment of Free trade zone (SAFTA) on the 12th Summit of SAARC, strengthening of Indian position in ARSIO and BIMSTEK shows that India is ready to be a locomotive of integration processes in South and South-Eastern Asia, and also in Indian Ocean basin. This interest is the same for Kazakhstan and India but not common because both neighboring countries are situated in different regions. It shows the high level of globalization and regionalization in all world regions. However, India begins to pay its attention to the Central Asian region. India is a permanent participant in CICA, and a permanent observer in Shanghai cooperation organization. India also actively develops relations with Central Asian States on two-sided level. Taking into account that CICA is a regional initiative of the President of Kazakhstan N.A. Nazarbaev, as well many-sided development of SCO is one of the main priorities in foreign policy of modern Kazakhstan and consent in this field for Kazakhstan and India helps to promote stable reciprocity of both countries on international stage. 
4. The factor of having common neighbors and common regional problems. Though Kazakhstan and India don’t have any borders but they have common “problem” neighbors. They are unstable Afghanistan and destabilization Pakistan in the light of last events. Terrorism extension problem and narcotic traffic is a main problem for both countries. India has longstanding argument between India and Pakistan concerning territorial rights for Dzhammu and Kashmir and also traditional aversion of Pakistan establishment by many Indian regional initiatives. So, apart from the rest facts Kazakhstan and Indian cooperation has got further development in narcotic terrorism struggle and in prevention of terrorist threat. The necessity of mutual actions in the strengthening of international terrorism struggle has become more real after known terrorist attack in Mumbai.
Except political factors Kazakhstan and India has common interests in economic relations. In this connection it is necessary to show a lot of factors which affects on the rapprochement of positions of Kazakhstan and India in economic sphere.

1. Searching of new ways of energetic and raw material resources’ transportation is a decisive factor for Kazakhstan. Searching of new product market and interest in new channels of providing by energetic and raw material resources is very important for India. In this question both countries are mutually interested in the development of two-sided economic cooperation because it gives them large opportunities in the national production and trade development. Consent of both countries’ interest in trade and economic sphere, and also absence of competitive branches let Kazakhstan and India have all chances for further increasing of goods turnover rate and economic cooperation.
2. Kazakhstan and India has same interests in the regional and interregional economic integration development. However it is early to say about cooperation and interregional cooperation character because level of economic integration development in Central and South Asia is on an initial stage. The economic development is observed to be on a regional level. However, interest of both regions in mutual economic cooperation has been increasing because of the level increase of regional economic integration. Such negative factors as conflict situation in Afghanistan, aggravation of relations between India and Pakistan, possible counteraction of China and Russia will be able to interfere to the economic interaction development in Central and South Asian regions.
3. Kazakhstan is interested to get new technologies which India can offer. Technological cooperation between Kazakhstan and India will be possible if Kazakhstan is able to transform its economics and make basis for the development of new economic branches. Politics of modernization of out-of-date branches and development of new economic branches correspondents to general vector of economic development of Kazakhstan, and it helps to enter the world economic space. Industrial and Innovation Strategy of Republic of Kazakhstan, the President’s Message to the People of Kazakhstan “Through crisis to rejuvenation and development”, and New Industrial Policy of Kazakhstan legally helps to provide the transformation of Kazakhstan economics into import and substituted economics and later into export-oriented model of economic modernization. Establishment of new branches of high technologies and off-the-shelf branches and resources’ diversification are main models of transformation. Information technologies sector, nanotechnology, pharmacy industry, biotechnology, application of new technologies in agriculture is new branches of high technologies. In this question Kazakhstan will be able to get obvious example by means of studying Indian experience of economic modernization. India was able to make highly developed information technologies sector and its development provides annual augmentation of Indian GDP (in pre-crisis time). So, cooperation between Kazakhstan and India in this question firstly let Kazakhstan to get technological support from India, and secondly it helps to study and apply Indian experience of realization of liberal economic reforms.
Thus, Kazakhstan and India should approach, first of all, on an economic basis as only close economic relations and joint industrial and innovative projects can provide stable development and prompt exit of Kazakhstan and India from the stagnation strip of economic crisis. Close economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and India will be able to lead to the further political alliance of both countries which helps to open the way of interregional cooperation and collaboration of neighboring regions of Central and South Asia.