India-Afghanistan Relations: Gaining Strategic Bonding
Reflecting on the history of Afghanistan-India relations spanning over thousands of years, the enduring bond of the two nations is an effort and determination of the people of both the countries for an ever flourishing comprehensive strategic partnership. Focusing on India’s cooperation with Afghanistan reaffirms the shared understanding that is indeed playing key role and making significant contributions to development, peace and stability thus bringing about brighter future for the two nations.
Through trilateral partnership cooperation between US, India and Afghanistan reflects how the two countries support changes the landscape of the war-torn country and building human capacity for sustenance. The real progress will only show the marked improvement and possibilities generated over the course of time for the welfare of the Afghan people. US imply on increase cooperation in Afghanistan, viewing India’s pioneering engagement creating levers for sustenance of human lives. The recent conversation of President Donald Trump with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for increasing cooperation in Afghanistan spells greater assimilation for inclusive development.
Recognizing the age-old relation of Afghanistan-India’ enduring cultural ties, friendship and the shared vision of both the nations has paved the way for ever flourishing comprehensive strategic partnership. Afghanistan-India relations are at the developed phase and continuous efforts are required for greater achievements to live up to the expectations of the two nations. India’s more than $3 billion assistance to Afghanistan since 2001 is setting forth enduring social foundation for bilateral ties of the two nations. Nonetheless, development cooperation and joint efforts in education, training, culture, and people-to people contact are dynamic in itself. The recent signing of 11 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) worth $ 9.5 million between India and Afghanistan in reinvigorating infrastructure development like establishing health clinics and government related projects is a witness of continued support of India for inclusive and sustainable growth of the war-torn nation. India’s ambitious target of $ 3 billion support to Afghanistan is creating major scope in creating Afghanistan’s potential at this crucial juncture.
India’s Support to Afghanistan over the Years – an Insight
With the passage of time India’s relation with Afghanistan has grown magnificently. The Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) of 2011 is the finest framework of India’s neighbourhood policy that weaves together the deep rooted association with Afghanistan. Over the past 17 years the relationship of the two nations are anchored on mutual trust and goodwill which is set off from humanitarian assistance to capacity building programmes as vital drivers for the benefit of Afghanistan. Reflecting on the insights and recent developments it is observed that the relation between the two nations has realised greater achievements and live up to the expectations of the people of India and Afghanistan.
The development partnership of India-Afghanistan is based on the principles of mutual sharing and solidarity which is branched into five founding modalities of development cooperation that includes capacity building, trade and investment, technology cooperation and others. The prominent one is the development of Chabahar port project connecting India, Iran and Afghanistan with Central Asian countries. The Chabahar port will promote connectivity through sea as well as improve the rail, road route bringing in investment and development in the region especially boosting railway, infrastructure and energy projects. In a recent development Afghanistan will be sending its goods to India every two weeks via Chabahar port starting from February creating opportunities for increased trade removing the obstacle of Afghanistan being landlocked. Among India’s support effort is the Air Freight Corridor programme with Afghanistan in 2017 which has grown exponentially with Kabul- Delhi, Kabul-Mumbai, Kabul-Kolkata, and Kabul-Amritsar cargo flights exchanged every week. There are more than 166 flights exchanged between India and Afghanistan. Last year Spice Jet has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for connecting Kabul with Indian metro cities. Connectivity via land, sea and air will help seize opportunities with new and emerging markets.
Further the International Solar Alliance (ISA) an intergovernmental organisation to boost solar energy development with its headquarters in India aims to mobilize $ 1 trillion funds to achieve one terra watts of solar energy capacity by 2030. In the first General Assembly of International Solar Alliance (ISA) Afghanistan became the partner country last year will provide ample opportunity for solar rich country to build new ties by focusing on scientific collaborations under the ambit of neighbourliness.
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has been playing a prominent role in enhancing and building educational capacities of Afghanistan through its various scholarship programmes. The initiatives taken by ICCR spell impressive growth in mobilizing education system and helping the students to contribute in the work force and for the development of Afghanistan. Education and cultural exchange programme has increased and it is believed that having received support from India will help Afghanistan in a big way. At present 1000 scholarship is provided to Afghan students and almost 16000 students are studying in various universities in India. Education has been the greatest single factor catalysing Afghanistan’s transformation. India’s cooperation in education and culture will help to achieve the great potential for development in Afghanistan.
The New Development Partnership of Afghanistan and India under the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) signed in 2017 to the tune of $1 billion, in which India took up hundreds of development projects in Afghanistan in areas including agriculture, water, education, health, etc.
India’s security cooperation with Afghanistan has been strengthened by providing Mi-24 helicopters to Afghanistan which was announced last year. India delivered four Mi-25 (Mi-24D) helicopters and three HAL Cheetah light utility helicopters to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) in December 2016.
India-Afghanistan Foundation promotes cultural and people to people contacts. To harness India’s sports potential, India has built Kandahar International Cricket Stadium.
Women Empowerment is another important aspect in which India is extending tremendous support. India’s Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) imparting training on sustainable livelihood generation and to be the part of inclusive growth and to be self-reliant. India-Afghanistan relations are aimed at a comprehensive development strategy that will foster and establish bilateral and multilateral relations which is better equipped to deal tough situations and bring peace and prosperity in the country and across the region.
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