Why India plans to invite heads of five Central Asian countries for 2022 Republic Day parade

If the plan materialises, this will be the first time that all Central Asian countries — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan — will participate as guests on 26 January

FP Staff December 14, 2021 16:07:27 IST
Why India plans to invite heads of five Central Asian countries for 2022 Republic Day parade

Each year, India has a grand parade at Rajpath in Delhi on 26 January. AFP

Who shall be the Chief Guest at the annual Republic Day parade held at Rajpath every year?

According to some reports, India is planning to invite the heads of five Central Asian countries, three of which share a border with Afghanistan, as chief guests for the 26 January celebrations.

As the diplomatic channels begin talks, we try to understand the message behind inviting these five leaders.

Who’s being invited?

Diplomatic talks have begun and as per an Indian Express report, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will talk with his counterparts of the five nations this weekend to iron out the details.

If all goes as planned, then five presidents — Kazakhstan’s Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Uzbekistan’s Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow and Kyrgyzstan’s Sadyr Japarov — will be the chief guests at the R-Day parade.

Earlier, there were talks of inviting the heads of BIMSTEC collective, which includes Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan. However, that did not work out.

If things move as planned, this will be the first time that all Central Asian countries will participate as guests on Republic Day.

In 2018, leaders from the 10 ASEAN countries were invited as guests for the celebrations.

Why these five nations?

Central Asia, as of date is very important given the situation in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

For those who don't know, of the five nations, three of them — Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan — share a border with Afghanistan.

India has been engaging with these nations in the past too, in an effort to bring peace in the area following the Taliban’s takeover and the security risks it poses to India.

Recently, the National Security Advisors of the five countries came to Delhi for the regional security dialogue on Afghanistan hosted by NSA Ajit Doval. All of them had expressed concern at the current situation in Afghanistan.

The Central Asia region is also resource-rich and can serve to meet India’s growing energy needs.

Moreover, as an article in the ORF explained that ‘anything that spills over into Central Asia has the potential to progress towards Russia and China’.

The invitation to the five heads also shows that India is focused on multi-polarity and also in establishing itself as a world power.

Past chief guests

In 2020, India had invited Brazil's Jair Messias Bolsonaro after Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson had to cancel owing to the COVID-19 situation in his country and before that, in 2019 it was South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa.

In 2015, United States president Barack Obama was the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade.
In India's history, there have been three occasions when the R-Day parade had no chief guest -- 1952, 1953 and 1966.

In 1966, there was no invitation extended due to the death of the then prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. The new government headed by Indira Gandhi was sworn in just two days before Republic Day.

With inputs from agencies

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