India would seem to have built-in advantages in trying to forge close relations with Central Asian states. It has a huge, growing economy, and, geographically, it is a neighbor. It also has historic ties dating back centuries; the Mughal Empire originated in what is today Uzbekistan.
And yet, India has made relatively few inroads into the Central Asian republics since they gained independence from the Soviet Union 20 years ago, as Marlene Laruelle and Sebastien Peyrouse, two French scholars of the region now working in Washington, write in a new book “Mapping Central Asia: Indian Perceptions and Strategies.”
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Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East. He is the editor of EurasiaNet's Bug Pit blog.