Relations between Uzbekistan and India have their roots deep in history. There are frequent references to Kamboja in Sanskrit and Pali literature, which is stated to include parts of present day Uzbekistan. Sakas participated in Mahabharata on the side of Kauravas. Ancient trade route uttarpath passed through Uzbekistan. In later years, Fergana, Samarkand, Bukhara in Uzbekistan emerged as major towns on the trade routes linking India with Europe and China. At various times the Saka / Scythian, Macedonian, Greco-Bactrian, Kushan Kingdoms included parts of both India and present day Uzbekistan, and at other times they were part of neighbouring empires. Buddhism is said to have travelled to China through Uzbekistan and Central Asia. Amir Timur was born near Shahrisabz and Babur came from Fergana in Uzbekistan. Indian merchants based in Samarkand and Bukhara were an integral part of local economy. Interactions over thousands of years contributed to close cultural linkages in architecture, dance, music and cuisine. Mirza Ghalib and Amir Khusro are notable Indians of Uzbek parentage. Indian movies have traditionally been popular in Uzbekistan.
India had close interaction with the Uzbek SSR during the Soviet times. Indian leaders often visited Tashkent and other places. Prime Minister, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri passed away in Tashkent on 11 January 1966 after signing the Tashkent declaration with Pakistan.
In August 1991, as the events leading to the disintegration of the USSR unfolded, President Islam Karimov, then Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Uzbekistan, was visiting India. Uzbekistan became independent on 01 September 1991.
Consulate General of India in Tashkent was formally inaugurated on 7th April 1987. Following Uzbekistan’s independence, it was upgraded to the level of Embassy through the signing of a Protocol on Diplomatic and Consular matters on 18th March 1992.
The subsequent period has been characterized by frequent high-level exchanges. Prime Minister Narasimha Rao visited Uzbekistan in 1993 and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on 25-26 April, 2006. President Karimov paid State visits to India in 1994, 2000, 2005 and in May 2011.
On 06-07 July 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tashkent to discuss bilateral issues. He visited Tashkent again on 23-24 June 2016 to attend Summit Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) during which India signed Memorandum of Obligations for obtaining status of the Member State of the SCO.
Minister of State for External Affairs Shri M.J. Akbar visited Uzbekistan from 30 October to 01 November as special envoy of the Prime Minister to express condolences and pay respects at the grave of President Islam Karimov in Samarkand.
On 09 June 2017 India became a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, of which Uzbekistan is a founding member. The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO-RATS) is headquartered in Tashkent. On 15 June 2017 the flag of India was raised at the SCO-RATS Headquarters in Tashkent. India has been actively participating in SCO and SCO-RATS events in Uzbekistan and other SCO countries. MoS (Law and Justice), Mr. P.P. Chaudhury led a delegation to the SCO Justice Ministers’ Meeting in Tashkent in October 2017.
A high level multi-sectoral delegation led by Mr.Abdulaziz Kamilov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan visited India from 21-23 August, 2017. The delegation included H.E. Mr. Elyor Ganiev, Minister of Foreign Trade and senior officials from several Ministries and State industry associations. Foreign Minister Kamilov called on Hon’ble Vice President of India. He also met with External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj, National Security Advisor Shri A.K. Doval, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry (Independence Charge), Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for External Affairs Shri M.J. Akbar, besides other engagements. During the delegation’s visit, an Uzbek-India Business Forum was held on 22 August 2017. Twenty-two contracts, worth more than US$80 million, and 20 investment agreements, worth over US$70 million, were signed at the Forum. The delegation visited the National Museum in Delhi and saw the special gallery dedicated to Central Asia. An agreement was reached on transfer of the copies of manuscript “Diwan-i-Babur” to Uzbekistan.
General (Dr.) V. K. Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs visited Uzbekistan as head of Indian delegation for attending the Conference on “Central Asia – Shared Past and Common Future: Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Mutual Prosperity” held on 10-11 November 2017 in Samarkand.
Bilateral relations are managed through a robust mechanism including an Intergovernmental Commission, which oversees trade and economic relations and Foreign Office Consultations. The last round of Foreign Office Consultations was held in March 2017 in Delhi. Uzbekistan and India have signed Agreements/MOUs/ Protocols/Joint Statements in areas such as trade, investment, education, civil aviation, tourism, science & technology, telecommunications, agriculture and IT.
Trade relations between India and Uzbekistan are governed by the Agreement on Trade and Economic Co-operation, signed in May 1993. This agreement contains normal features of trade agreements, such as mutual MFN treatment, etc. India and Uzbekistan also signed an Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation in 1993 and yet another one for Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection in May 1999 which India has sought to cancel and has proposed a Bilateral Investment Treaty.
The Indo-Uzbek Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation has met ten times and the last Session was held in Delhi in March 2014.
India-Uzbekistan bilateral trade:
(Source : Uzbekistan’s State Statistics Committee)
India’s exports: Pharmaceutical products, mechanical equipment, vehicle parts, services, optical instruments and equipment.
India’s imports: Fruit and vegetable products, services, fertilizers, juice products, extracts and lubricants.
A number of Indian business delegations have been visiting Uzbekistan either for exploring business opportunities or to participate in various exhibitions/fairs held in Uzbekistan. Prominent among them from January 2016 onwards are: 20-member delegation led by the All India Industrial Gases Manufacturers’ Association; delegation from ELCOM Innovations Private Limited; 28-member pharmaceutical delegation led by Pharmexcil; 52-member delegation led by ASSOCHAM; 22-member business delegation led by the Council for Leather Exports of India; Federation of Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Jaypee Hospitals; Moolchand Healthcare and others.
Similarly, the growing interest from Uzbekistan in exploring the Indian market is also visible in visits by delegations to participate in various exhibitions etc., e.g. in 16th INDIASOFT – INDIA IT SHOW 2016; 4-member Uzbek delegation for CAPINDIA; and a 14-member delegation participated in CPhI India 2016 etc.
Notable Indian Investments:
According to Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, Investment & Trade, 113 companies created with participation of Indian capital are working in Uzbekistan, out of which 19 companies are with 100% investment.
Minda Group: Minda Group of India established a Joint Venture company ‘UzMinda’ in 2011 with an investment of about US$ 5 million in Navoi Free Economic Zone and is producing car spare-parts for General Motors in Uzbekistan.
Polo Amusement Park: Fun and Food Village, Gurgaon set up a water park in July 2011. The company has invested an amount of US$ 4 million.
Nova Pharma: A Joint Venture (between individual Indian and Uzbek entrepreneurs) based in the Termez City of Uzbekistan with an investment plan of US$ 8 million in manufacturing of pharmaceutical and healthcare products in Uzbekistan.
Bravo Pharma: Set up with an estimated investment of US$ 5.5 million. This company is engaged in diagnostic and other healthcare services.
Ramada Hotel Tashkent: Started operation in Tashkent on 4th July, 2009. Owned by a Delhi-based businessman. The hotel has 120 rooms, an Indian restaurant, two business centres and all the other facilities available in modern hotels.
Shayana Farms: Owned by an Indian national. A pharmaceutical production company. Has a turnover of US$ 30 million per annum. Opened a second unit, with an investment of US$ 4 million in March 2017.
Orion Medicity: Established in 2011 and is engaged in healthcare services. It is affiliated with ‘MEDANTA THE MEDICITY’, India. A medical Centre, VITAMED, was also opened in Tashkent as a franchisee of MEDANTA of India.
Major Indian projects undertaken and other ongoing Indian projects
With a GOI grant of Rs. 3 Crores, the Jawaharlal Nehru India-Uzbek Centre for Information Technology (JNIUCIT) was established in Tashkent. It was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, in 2006.
In October 2011, under a Joint Action Plan formulated to further promote the activities of the Centre, MEA sanctioned Rs. 4.212 Crores to upgrade the Centre. Ten Uzbek Master Trainers were trained in CDAC, Pune. Two CDAC experts were in Tashkent between 26 January and 26 July 2014 for setting up the upgraded Centre as well as for conducting classes, workshops, etc. The upgradation was completed in 2014, and the Centre is functioning well.
Establishment of Entrepreneurship Development Centre, Tashkent
During the visit of then Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, in April 2006, an MoU was signed between India and Uzbekistan for establishing the Uzbekistan-India Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC) in Tashkent. The objective of establishing the Centre was to set up collaboration in exchange of experience in the field of Small and Private Enterprises to assist in the economic development of Uzbekistan. In 2013, MEA sanctioned an amount of Rs. 3.35 Crore for EDC’s setting up. The feasibility study and the business opportunity identification study has already been conducted by the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahmedabad, the implementing agency. The Uzbek Government has since finalized premises for the Centre at the University of Economy, Tashkent, and conveyed to the Indian side in March 2017. The Centre is expected to be functional soon.
Lal Bahadur Shastri Centre for Indian Culture working under Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), was established in Tashkent in 1995 and has been a household name in Uzbekistan for its cultural activities. Besides organizing seminar events relating to Indian culture, the Centre also organizes regular classes for Kathak, Yoga, Tabla and Hindi language. Three Uzbek educational institutions, nationwide, promote studies of Hindi language, from primary to post-graduate level.
Uzbek Radio completed 50 years of Hindi broadcasting in 2012. Uzbek TV channels regularly show Indian films and serials.
A Protocol on cooperation in the field of mass media was signed in October 1992. During the visit of President Islam Karimov to India in May 2000, another Protocol for cooperation in the field of information and mass media was signed. This Protocol envisaged cooperation involving exchange of TV programmes, visit of journalists, participation in international film festivals, cooperation among the filmmakers of both feature films and documentaries, visit of Radio and TV personnel etc.
Uzbekistan is a partner of India’s ITEC Programme since 1993. Currently 130 slots are being allotted annually. The ITEC Programme has been very well received in Uzbekistan. Areas of training include information technology, English language, management, journalism, diplomacy, small business planning, remote sensing, banking and hotel management etc. Twenty-five scholarships are being offered to Uzbekistan annually for various courses in Indian Universities under ICCR’s Scholarship Programmes and one scholarship for study of Hindi at the Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra.
In 2017, Uzbek artisans participated in the Surajkund Crafts Mela in Haryana in February; Embassy of India, Tashkent organized an Indian cultural programme by Uzbek artistes in March to mark the 25th anniversary of Indo-Uzbek diplomatic relations; an Indian jazz group participated in the 3rd International Jazz Festival in Uzbekistan in April; a Bollywood dance group visited Uzbekistan in May; an Indian Hindustani vocal group participated in the Sharq Taronalari international music festival in Samarkand in August; an Indian food festival was organized in some hotels in Tashkent in August; a folk group visited Uzbekistan in November; an Uzbek youth delegation visited Indian in December; an Uzbek family music group ‘Havas’ went on a three-week India tour in December.
A small but vibrant Indian community lives in Uzbekistan. Mission maintains regular links with the community through its social media accounts, targeted emails, and invitations to Embassy events. The community actively participates in celebration of the national days, International Yoga Day, Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, Hindi Diwas, Holi, Diwali and cultural programmes on various occasions. Contacts are also maintained with Indian communities in the regions of Uzbekistan.