“Cultivate the moral self, then regulate the family, rule the country rightly and make the world stay in harmony.” – Li Ji (The Book of Rites)
Strong relations between Uzbekistan and India is the result of mutual cooperation and cooperative diplomacy dating back to several decades. From a historical perspective, there are frequent bibliographical references of Kamboja in Sanskrit and Pali literature, which is referenced to include parts of present-day Uzbekistan. It is a cited fact that the Shakas participated in Mahabharata on the side of Kauravas. Ancient trade route uttar path, having its reference in Ramayana passed through Uzbekistan. In later years, Fergana and Samarkand in Uzbekistan emerged as centres of trade on the trade routes linking India with Europe and China. India had close interaction with the Uzbek SSR during the USSR regime. Indian diplomats and Heads of State often visited Tashkent to strengthen cultural and diplomatic bonds. Bi-lateral relations between both the countries is also politically sensitive, because former Prime Minister, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri passed away in Tashkent on 11 January 1966 after signing the Tashkent declaration with Pakistan and in August 1991, as the events leading to the disintegration of the USSR unfolded, President Islam Karimov, in his then capacity as Chairman of Supreme Soviet of Uzbekistan, was visiting India. Uzbekistan was declared independent on 1st September 1991.
A numerically small but vibrant and active Indian community resides in Uzbekistan. The bilateral relationship aims to maintain regular links with the community through its social media accounts, targeted emails, and invitations to Embassy events. The Indian community actively participates in the celebration of the national days, International Yoga Day, Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, Hindi Diwas, Holi, Diwali and cultural programmes on various occasions. These frequent interactions over thousands of years since 1947 contributed to close cultural linkages in architecture, dance, music and art. India’s soft power has travelled through borders to Uzbekistan, and it is evident from the fact that Indian movies and cuisine have traditionally been popular in Uzbekistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon after his electoral victory visited Tashkent to discuss bilateral issues in 2015. He visited Tashkent again in 2016 to attend Summit Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) during which India inked the Memorandum of Obligations for obtaining a status of the Member State of the SCO, of which Uzbekistan is a founding member. On 09 June 2017, India became a full-time member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO-RATS) is headquartered in Tashkent and on 15 June 2017, the flag of India was raised at the SCO-RATS Headquarters in Tashkent. India has been an active participant in SCO meetings and SCO-RATS events in Uzbekistan and other SCO countries. Mr. P.P. Chaudhury, Minister of State for Law & Justice and Corporate Affairs, Government of India led a delegation to the SCO Justice Minister’s Meeting in Tashkent in October 2017.
Government to Government dialogues are managed through a robust mechanism including an Intergovernmental Commission, which oversees trade and economic relations and Foreign Office Consultations. Uzbekistan and India have previously signed Agreements/MOUs/ Protocols/Joint Statements in areas such as trade, investment, education, civil aviation, tourism, science & technology, telecommunications, agriculture and Information Technology. By the end of 2018, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Uzbekistan on Cooperation in the Sphere of Law & Justice. The MoU is an all-comprehensive diplomatic agreement covering the exchange of experience by legal professionals, Government functionaries and their training and effective legal aid mechanism for resolution. The MoU will accelerate greater cooperation between India and Uzbekistan in providing legal services in both countries in the field of exchange of experience through training and information sharing visits between both countries on enhancing legal capacities of Government functionaries.
The present Government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is practising a modern form of proactive diplomatic dialogue wherein there is tremendous focus on knowledge sharing areas in the field of law and policy. Strengthening the International law jurisprudence should be main focus of global economies striving for economic and societal progress. The MoU is also important from a diplomatic point for India as the Union Cabinet has also approved an agreement between India and Morocco on Mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. It will also fulfil the desire of both countries to strengthen the bonds of friendship and fruitful cooperation in the Civil and Commercial matters, which is the spirit, essence and language of the agreement. These dual agreements will enhance co-operation in the service of summons, judicial documents, letters of request and the execution of judgments decrees and arbitral awards.