This article highlights the recent meeting between India’s National Security Advisor and counterparts from the US, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, which signifies India’s deepening outreach in West Asia. The changing dynamics in the region, with a diminishing American role and a rising Russia-China presence, have prompted India to adopt an integrated approach similar to its Indo-Pacific strategy. (The Hindu and Indian Express)
What is the context?
India’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, recently met counterparts from the US, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. This deepens India’s outreach in West Asia amid changing dynamics. The region witnesses a diminishing American role and rising Russia-China presence. The meeting signifies an integrated approach, similar to the Indo-Pacific, with the involvement of the US and regional partners. They discussed linking West Asian countries via rail networks, roads, and sea lanes to counter China’s Belt and Road initiative.
Introduction to the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)
The 7,200-km-long INSTC is a multi-mode network combining ship, rail, and road routes. It enhances trade connectivity between major cities like Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, and others. It aligns with the Ashgabat agreement, facilitating transportation between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.
Key Advantages of the North-South Transport Corridor
The INSTC addresses concerns about China’s “debt trap” and eases tensions among West Asian rivals. Leveraging India’s railway expertise, it enhances the country’s reputation. Direct corridors between West Asia and the Subcontinent improve energy security and offer better prospects for Indian workers and businesses. India’s focus on the Indo-Pacific expands diplomatic options and strengthens partnerships.
Key Challenges of the INSTC
Challenges include delayed construction, financial constraints, differing rail gauges, and geopolitical tensions. Infrastructure development, harmonizing customs procedures, reducing trade barriers, ensuring security and stability, and effective coordination among participating countries are crucial for the corridor’s success. Overcoming these challenges requires close collaboration and sustained efforts.
India’s recent meeting with the US, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE deepens its outreach in West Asia. The region sees a diminishing American role and rising Russia-China presence. India adopts an integrated approach to link West Asian countries and counter China’s Belt and Road initiative.
To fully realize the potential of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), addressing challenges and seizing opportunities is crucial. Efforts should be made to overcome delayed construction, financial constraints, differing rail gauges, and geopolitical tensions.
Key areas of focus include infrastructure development, harmonizing customs procedures, reducing trade barriers, ensuring security and stability, and fostering effective coordination among participating countries.
It is important to sustain efforts and build strong partnerships to maximize the benefits of the INSTC and solidify India’s engagement in the region
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