India has always had a close relationship with Central Asian countries, especially countries that were part of the Ancient Silk Route, including Kyrgyzstan. The country got independence on 31st August 1991. India was among one of the first countries to recognize and establish its diplomatic relation which was on 18th March 1992. Further, on 23rd May 1994, the resident mission of India was set up. Since then, they have achieved a breakthrough in the planned the countries can be characterized as a strategic partnership, progressive friendship, and equality based on sustainable development and mutual trust.
India announced its Connect Central Asia Policy during the visit of the Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri E. Ahamed to Kyrgyzstan on 10-13 June 2012 with the first India-Central Asia Track-II Dialogue held in Bishkek. Kyrgyzstan has always supported India’s bid for a permanent seat at UNSC and India’s full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
The two countries share common concerns and threats like terrorism, extremism, and drug trafficking. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, the two countries have signed several framework agreements, including on Culture, Trade and Economic Cooperation, Civil Aviation, Investment Promotion and Protection, Avoidance of Double Taxation, Consular Convention, etc. An Indo-Kyrgyz Joint Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation was set up in 1992. The 8th Session of India-Kyrgyz Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation was held in Bishkek on 28 November 2016 in which India was represented by Ms. Rita Teaotia, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and the Kyrgyz side was headed by Deputy Minister for Health Mr. Amangeldy Murzaliev.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kyrgyzstan from 11th to 12th July 2015. The visit came after 20 years during which he met with the Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayen, Speaker Asylbek Jeenbekov, and Prime Minster Temir Sariyen. The four major agreements were signed between the two countries in the field of defence, culture, election, and standardization. In December 2015, on the sideline of the Heart of Asia Conference EAM Sushma Swaraj and Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyrdaev met to discuss the ways to further enhance the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
President of the Kyrgyz Republic Mr. Almazbek Atambaev paid a state visit to India from 18-21 December 2016. This was his first visit to India as the President of Kyrgyzstan. He also led a high-level delegation with Ministers, senior officials, and business leaders from the Kyrgyz Republic. He also held meetings with the President of India, Vice President of India, and the Prime Minister. It was during this meeting that seven agreements/MoUs in the field of tourism, agriculture, youth development, cooperation between diplomatic academies, broadcasting, exchange of cadets, and investment promotion were signed. This was followed by the Kyrgyz President also participating in the India-Kyrgyz Republic Business Forum.
In 2017, former Home Minister Sh. Rajnath Singh led the Indian delegation for the meeting of the Heads of Emergency Departments of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States. The meeting was held in Cholpon Ata, Kyrgyzstan between 24-25 August 2017.
President Jeenbekov visited India on 30th May 2019 and attended the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Both leaders met and discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and cooperation in the framework of international fora. Then in 2019, from 13th to 14 June Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Kyrgyz Republic to attend SCO Summit and also for a bilateral visit to strengthen the relations. In the Joint Declaration, it was announced that 2021 will be celebrated as the Year of Culture and Friendship between India and the Kyrgyz Republic. During the visit, India-Kyrgyz Joint Textile Exhibition was held in Bishkek. Prime Minister also announced that an Indian trade show called ‘Namaskar Eurasia’ will be organised in Bishkek from 9-11 October 2019. Prime Minister also announced a line of credit of US $ 200 million for financing development projects in the Kyrgyz Republic.
In 1995, India had extended a US$ 5 million line of credit to Kyrgyzstan; out of this, US$ 2.78 million were disbursed for four projects – a plant for manufacturing toothbrushes, a polythene bag manufacturing plant, a toothpaste production plant, and a pharmaceutical plant. Kyrgyz Republic repaid US$ 1.66 million and the balance amount was converted to grant. The fifth and sixth sessions of the India-Kyrgyz Joint Business Council meeting between the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Kyrgyz Chamber of Commerce and Industry took place in Bishkek on 19 March 2014 and in New Delhi on 02-03 December 2014 respectively.
India-Kyrgyz trade was US$ 24.98 million in 2016-17. India’s exports to Kyrgyzstan were US$ 22.66 million whereas Kyrgyz exports to India were US$2.32 million. Apparel and clothing, leather goods, drugs & pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, and tea are some of the important items in our export basket to Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz exports to India consist of raw hides, metalliferous ores & metal scrap among other items. The bilateral trade during 2018-2019 was increased to US $ 32.60 million. India’s exports to the Kyrgyz Republic were US $ 30.02 million, while Kyrgyz exports to India were US $ 2.59 million. Indian exports registered a growth of 8.75% on a year-to-year basis. Kyrgyz Republic’s share in India’s total global exports was 0.01%.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Kyrgyz Republic on an official visit from 13-14, June 2019. A total of 15 agreements were signed including on Bilateral Investment Treaty, Protocol amending Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Fiscal Evasion, Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in Health, Information and Communication Technology, defence cooperation was signed. The bilateral relations were raised to the level of Strategic Partnership. During the visit, Prime Minister also announced a line of credit of US $ 200 million for financing development projects in the Kyrgyz Republic. During the same meeting, a 5-year roadmap for Trade and Economic Cooperation was adopted. The roadmap aimed at the creation of favourable conditions for accelerated growth of bilateral trade, diversification of products, and increase in foreign investment.
In June 2019, the India-Kyrgyz Business forum was held. Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov and Prime Minister Modi jointly inaugurated India-Kyrgyz Business Forum on 14th June 2019. 150 Kyrgyz participants and 50 participants from India including the delegation from FICCI attended the event. Addressing the Business Forum, Prime Minister Modi highlighted the opportunities for investors from India in areas of medicines, textiles, railways, hydropower, mining and minerals, and tourism. Both sides agreed to explore collaborations and cooperations in the fields of textiles, handicrafts, fabrics, and arts. Prime Minister Modi also announced that an Indian trade show called ‘Namaskar Eurasia’ was organised in Bishkek from 9-11 October 2019.
The Centre for Indian Studies was set up in Osh State University in 1997 and it has been useful in providing exposure to Indian culture and civilization to academicians and intelligentsia in this country. In 2014, the mission established an Indian Study Centre in the prestigious National Library in Bishkek. The Center is running with help of volunteers and imparts training in English and Hindi languages, Yoga, and Kathak dance. Another centre has been opened in Kara Balta city at the distance of 80 km from Bishkek. Numerous kathak, yoga, Indian dance, fusion music, Bollywood, and historical workshops and concerts have been organised to increase the influence as well as popularize the Indian culture and traditions. In March 2019, Yoga Caravan, Classical Indian dance, and Vegetarian Indian cuisine festival were held in Naryn, Karakol, and Bishkek to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, in collaboration with ‘Altyn Taj’-India-Kyrgyz Friendship Society.
An Agreement on Cooperation in the spheres of culture was signed during the visit of Prime Minister Modi in July 2015 to replace the agreement on culture, arts, education, science, mass-media, and sports of 18 March 1992. In general, there is an appreciation of Indian culture and its influence on the population has grown a lot. A 10-member Bhangra Dance group “Bhola Panchi”, sponsored by ICCR, performed in Bishkek on 18 October and in Kara-Balta on 19 October 2014. A renowned Indian musician Shri Dhruba Ghosh, Principal of Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai, performed in Bishkek along with a Central Asian Orchestra on 5 August 2015. A troupe, Natya STEM Dance Kampani, sponsored by ICCR performed in the most prestigious Kyrgyz National Philharmony Hall on 20 October 2015.
There are about 100 Indian nationals apart from 8000 students in Kyrgyzstan. In the year 2018, the Embassy of India has granted 2921 visas, whereas 466 e-TVs were granted in 2018. An Agreement establishing a visa-free regime for diplomatic and/or official/service passports was signed on 19 Jul ‘13 which became effective on 24th April 2014.