New book on Kazakhstan calls for building bonds and partnership with India

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New Delhi, Aug 27 (ANI): Relations between India and Kazakhstan took another step forward on Wednesday evening with Kazakhstan's envoy to India, Dr. Kairat Umarov releasing the book "Contemporary Kazakhstan - Success Story of Nation Building", authored by Mail Today journalist Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, in the presence of a select gathering of former diplomats, academia and media persons.

Addressing the gathering, Dr. Umarov described the book launch as a welcome and timely initiative that would cement Indo-Kazakh ties further and building bonds of everlasting friendship and partnership between the two countries.

He said 2009 has been a very positive and progressive year from the point of bilateral relations, as it included a visit by Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the signing of several important agreements to cooperate more actively in the field of petrochemicals, oil and natural gas, and explore and promote opportunities in the fields of science and technology, information technology, thermal power, hydro-carbons, pharmaceuticals and culture etc.

Additionally, he said, both countries are actively working to finalize an inter-governmental agreement for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which is significant in the wake of India gaining NSG clearance.

He highlighted the fact that leaderships of the two countries were now meeting more often at and on the sidelines of international conferences such as last month's Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia. This reflected well for enhancement of ties in the short and long term, he added.

Former Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs Rajiv Sikri spoke of his stint as India's ambassador to Kazakhstan in the mid-1990s, and said he was quite amazed by the progress Kazakhstan has made in the nearly two decades of its existence as a modern independent nation state.

He said that during his many visits to Kazakhstan, he had always come back with an impression of a country taking steady and concrete steps in establishing itself in the international community. He said that it was always a pleasure to visit Kazakhstan, and having an association with it is an honour.

Narender Kumar, owner of Har-Anand Publications, also recalled his past association with Kazakhstan, including writing and publishing a biography of President Nazarbayev, a reprint of which is due next year. Endorsing the views of other two speakers, Kumar said Kazakhstan is a country in constant evolution, always seeking ways to improve its infrastructure and the lifestyle of its people. He emphasized that both India and Kazakhstan should consistently look for ways to enhance people-to-people contact, trade, commerce and culture etc.

Chaudhury said that while his book was one of many on Kazakhstan, he felt that it would be a worthwhile read as what stuck out most about his visits to Kazakhstan and his interactions with the people of that country, was the warmth and affection that they displayed towards Indians. That, he said, was something to build on for the future.

Chaudhury, whose areas of interests include foreign policy issues and strategic affairs, said his book provides information on Kazakhstan from an Indian perspective and highlights aspects of a Central Asian country that would be of interest to the Indian reader.

Divided into seven chapters, the 88-page book (plus two annexures) effortlessly and lucidly bridges the awareness gap about contemporary Kazakhstan; dealing with its evolution into a modern nation state in the post-Soviet era (1991 onwards), its multi-vector foreign policy, its unique relationship with India and the steps it has taken under its visionary president Nursultan Nazarbayev to sustain a vibrant economy.

One of the seven chapters is dedicated to the special ties that India and Kazakhstan enjoy. It recalls the fact that contacts go back to the days of the Great Silk Route, which passed from China to the Western World through Central Asia. From an Indian perspective, the book highlights three key reasons why Kazakhstan is important - (1) Its strategic location (2) Its vast energy and mineral resources and (3) Its secular and composite social structure.

The fact that India was among the first countries to recognize Kazakhstan's independence finds special mention. The chapter on India also highlights the great affection that people of Central Asia have for Indians thanks primarily to its benevolent image, popular movies, culture and ancient civilization.

In the 21st century, the book talks of Kazakhstan and India rediscovering each other and predicts that as the pace of globalization increases, the status will change from "immediate neighbours to extended neighbours". The chapter concludes with a plea for improving modes of direct transportation.

It talks of a country that inherited a physical infrastructure designed to serve the erstwhile Soviet economy, and one that has sought to march with the times politically, economically and socially. The rapid development of its oil and gas fields in the early 2000s has facilitated huge economic growth (average annual growth rate of ten percent) and a modernized political structure. As a country, Kazakhstan has undertaken many timely reforms with the help of both Asian and European experts, and this helped it engage with major powers such as the US, the UK, the EU and China.

In his book, Chadhury sets out five goals for Kazakhstan to focus on viz. (1) Maintain sustainable economic development (2) Increase the role of political parties (3) Use reforms to improve the country's judicial system (4) Develop and strengthen local representative bodies and (5) To promote Kazakhstan as a center of inter-cultural and inter-religious harmony.

Published by Har-Anand Publications (P) Ltd, the book while throwing light on different aspects of national development and emerging opportunities; provokes new thoughts and ideas on the way forward between the two countries. (ANI)

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