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25 May 2016


India's decision to boost up the development of Chabahar port in Iran is of much importance. It is not something which merely got cooked up in recent times from the incumbent government, but the idea of creating such a kind of strategic deal was under a strong move since 2009. India, despite being the second largest importer of oil, had once made Iran unhappy by giving its support to the IAEA against Iran in condemning their nuclear deals. Now, India is likely to invest about $500mn for the development of the Chabahar port. Hopefully, this can help in providing a balanced image to India. For a nation like India, it is necessary to get a route opened into the Central Asia through Iran. Russia is already in tie up with Iran. At this point of time, where the dream project of underground gas pipeline through Pakistan, from Iran (TAPI) is almost in the air and the Chinese investment in the development of Pakistan's Gwadar Port is on the move, it is no good for a nation like India to sit simply without seeking for better alternatives. Hoping for a strategic path through Pakistan occupied Kashmir under present circumstances is politically impossible. It is to be noted that the Governments in India since 2009, were thoroughly alarmed of the Chinese interventions in the region. It is time to make a strategic circular lock around China.

Chabahar port is strategically important for India as it could be connected easily with the Kandla port in the state of Gujarat in India. As Nitin Gadkari has mentioned, geographically, the distance between Kandla and Chabahar is less than that of between Mumbai and Delhi. Already, BRO is laying 213 km s road between Zaranj and Delaram in Afghanistan. These would help India to establish a strong central Asian connection excluding China and Pakistan. Road projects are on the way through Armenia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan indeed. Eventually, this will reduce the distance to St. Petersburg. The Indian investments would help Iran to escape from the economic isolation created by the U.S.. Technically, the Indo-Iranian strategic relations are to be viewed in par with the Indo-Russian relations as the former has got the potential to decrease the strategic distance between India and Moscow! This will be really helpful in deterring the unethical teaming up of China and Pakistan

In the current world, having 'strategic alignments' is preferred to the rhetoric style of staying 'non-aligned'. For India, it is necessary to rewind the relationships with Iran so as to fix its diplomatic position in Central Asia. Cultural cooperation, resource sharing and various other facts also come under the recent Indo-Iranian agreements. It is to be noted that about 25,000  Iranian students pursue their higher education in India and the Indian Govt. provides scholarship to many of them. Cultural cooperation with a Shiite country like Iran could strengthen India's role in curbing international terrorism.

All those who criticize the Indian PM for his repeated international visits should bear these things in  their minds. For India, it is essential to draw a world map, without Pakistan and China. India is already on a smooth line with the U.S. and Modi is visiting the U.S. repeatedly. At the same time, President Pranab Mukherjee has flown to China and this could be a part of the same business.
One thing, the authorities should bear in mind is that one cannot hold with the hare and run with the hound simultaneously. But, as for India, with a history of  'non-alignment' strategy, the current mode of game playing seems to be pretty fine and powerful.

- Rahul Sharma

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