External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar gifting Indian epics and classics to Prof. Turgunaliev at the Manas-Mahatma Gandhi library in Bishkek (Image courtesy: Twitter/DrSJaishankar)
With more than 80 per cent of its territory located at an altitude of more than 1500 meters above the sea level, quaint and beautiful Kyrgyzstan in the northeastern part of Central Asia, could soon become the next popular destination for Bollywood movies.
While announcing a USD 200 million Line of Credit offer to the government of Kyrgyz Republic in Bishkek on Monday – which has been accepted – External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar announced taking the historical and civilizational bond shared by the two countries to a new level.
"Having seen a little bit of Kyrgyz landscape yesterday on my arrival, I am convinced that the picturesque Kyrgyz lakes and peaks offer excellent destinations for Bollywood productions. An incentive-package by Kyrgyz side may open new avenues for Bollywood film shootings," Jaishankar said at the conclusion of his visit to the country.
The Kyrgyz Republic has as many as 1923 lakes – with Lake Issyk-Kul being one of the largest and deepest alpine lakes in the world – and more than 40,000 rivers, the main source of which are the mountain glaciers.
Located along the Great Silk Road, it has not only 583 historical and cultural monuments but also a number of specially protected natural areas.
"I am very happy to visit this beautiful land of 'Manas' – the land of Kyrgyz mountain peoples," said the External Affairs Minister highlighting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Bishkek in June 2019 saw the relations elevated to that of a strategic partnership.
"Kyrgyzstan was a special Guest-of-honour at Prime Minister Modi's swearing in after re-election in May 2019, which was very well-received in India," he added.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with his Kyrgyz counterpart Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev (Image courtesy: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kyrgyzstan
As reported by India Narrative yesterday, talks on connectivity, which according to India remains "a major impediment to bilateral trade" figured prominently in the discussions held between Jaishankar and his Kyrgyz counterpart Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev today.
With the air traffic connectivity between the two countries being inconsistent and unreliable due to the tensions on the India-Pakistan border, New Delhi and Bishkek have been working on alternatives and the need to develop communications through the seaports of Mumbai and Chabahar, followed by access to the Central Asian region via the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) project.
"We believe that respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is a prerequisite for any connectivity initiative," said Jaishankar, perhaps taking a veiled dig at China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Recent reports have suggested that fearing a Chinese "invasion" and "land-grab" through the BRI projects in the region, the "anti-Chinese sentiment" is growing in Kyrgyzstan.
"While this paranoid fear could be seen as a relic of the past, more Kyrgyz are becoming aware of the eradication of Uyghur culture and identity happening in neighbouring Xinjiang province in China, precisely by way of economic development and encouraged or forced intermarriage," Amsterdam-based Global Voices reported a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, in a concerted push to boost bilateral trade and investments, India and Kyrgyzstan have decided to explore joint-development projects in the fields of eco tourism, jewellery-design, pharma, medicines, medical education, IT Parks and data-banks. India will also support establishment of three more Tele-Medicine Centers in Batken, Jalal-Abad, and Chui regions of Kyrgyz Republic.
"Development cooperation is gradually emerging as an important pillar of our cooperation. The provision of Bhabhatron in Bishkek has been useful in diagnosis of cancers not only for residents of Bishkek but across the country. We are committed to providing another Bhabhatron for the hospital in Osh," said Jaishankar after the signing of the MoU on High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP).
Both ministers also discussed issues of regional security and the situation in Afghanistan, the fight against extremism and terrorism, conduct of annual military exercise 'Khanjar' and stressed the need for close interaction and exchange of information in order to counter regional threats and challenges.
Before wrapping up his quick visit, Jaishankar released a 'Hindi-Kyrgyz Dictionary of Words of Common Origin', jointly worked by Indian Council of Cultural Relations and Kyrgyz State Language Commission.
He also gifted Indian books to Manas-Mahatma Gandhi Library of the Kyrgyz Manas Chingiz Aitmatov Foundation which was dedicated to public services in Bishkek, in May 2021.