India-Iran ties

Our PM’s visit in May this year was the first bilateral visit exchanged between the two nations since 2003. Despite having good relations earlier, India-Iran relations suffered from lack of trust which developed during the times of sanctions on Iran. One prominent reason was India voting against Iran at the IAEA. Though the vote was not entirely due to pressure from US, it was also partly due to India’s self interests. The lifting of sanctions from Iran after its agreement with P5+1 offers new opportunities to India to take the bilateral ties forward.

One of the main interests of India in Iran is Chabahar port. It will provide access to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan. This will also boost India’s Connect Central Asia Policy. It is also seen as counter to China’s development of Gwader (Pakistan). Though, questions have been raised over India’s seriousness regarding to this port, the fact is that the enthusiasm has been lacking from the Iran side due to vested interests. India’s dedication can be gauged from the completion of Zaranj Delaram road.

Besides, India is also looking for stake in Farzad B gas fields. An under sea gas pipeline from Iran to India is also in the offing.  The lifting of sanctions also brings Iran’s oil in the world market thus taking the price of crude even lower levels, which is desirable for India. This can help India ensure energy security and boost its manufacturing.

On the geopolitical front, India ,while engaging Iran, should not alienate Israel and Saudi Arabia. What India lacks in Iran is some significant stake. For instance , in Saudi Arabia, we have a considerable diaspora (our stake there). The investment in Chabahar port and Farzad B gas fields will give us that stake. This will considerably improve our bilateral relations.

Also, the involvement of Iran in the peace process is crucial for stability of West Asian region. This is important for India due to its sizable diaspora in the region and the remittances coming from them.

Iran is a well educated, industrialized and stable country. With the lifting of sanctions, India should look to take care of the misunderstandings that have emerged over time. Iran, at the same time, is also fully aware of the potential, both economic and geopolitical, of its relations with India.

Source : Himanshu Garg


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