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India & its neighbors.

The region in South Asia is popularly known as Indian Subcontinent. This geographical space is composed of multiple ethnicities, religions and races. The history of this region goes back to ancient times and it has occupied a bright spot in the sky of world trade and development of our civilization. The course of history has evolved this region into distinct political units with shared opportunities and challenges. India as a nation is a central fountain offering a kaleidoscopic view of the entire region. The relationship amongst India and its neighbours is layered broadly through the connections between state and non state actors. The political relationship between states is evident in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) organization. The non state actors like business communities and diaspora contribute towards the relationship via people-to-people contacts.The bilateral relationship between India and its neighbour countries is discussed below.

India shares its relationship with Pakistan through trade and geographical linkages. India has granted Pakistan a special trading status to boost economic ties. This trade relationship is enjoyed by the food and pharmaceutical industries. Besides, trade there is commonality of culture in between the two countries. The prevalence of Bollywood and Urdu language on either side of the border is part and parcel of both the cultures. The engagement through sports is another area of relationship. The presence of positives in ties has its negatives

through challenges of terrorism and counterfeit money. The Kashmir is major bone of contention between the two countries and figures predominantly in talks and ties. The interlinking of rivers is another issue which works as a hurdle in relationships

Nepal has been a Hindu kingdom and has a civilization connect with India from ancient times. Nepal currently is battling with political crisis in which India has provided crucial help through its experience of constitutional making. India and Nepal also share an open border which is a remarkable show of close relationships between the two countries. There are many rivers originating from Nepal which work as an elixir of life for the people residing in the Terai and Indo Gangetic Plains. Inspite of above, some sections of the Nepalese have viewed India negatively to draw political mileage. India needs to address this gap through delivering on its promises of trade and commerce for the shared prosperity and growth of both nations.

The problems of the northern region of Srilanka's Tamil Majority population offers challenges as well as an opportunity for the development of partnership between two countries. India has played pivotal role in resolving the political crisis in Srilanka at diplomatic and security levels. India abstained from voting at UN resolution against SriLanka for its human rights violations. At trade level, fishing and tea are important areas. The joined sporting events also increase the people to people contacts

India had assisted Maldives both at political and trade levels. Many Indians visit for tourism. Tourism forms a major trade for the Maldivian population. Maldives has also sent its students for education and skill development in India for its inclusive growth and progress.

Bhutan is a small kingdom located at the foot of the Himalayas. India is the largest trading partner of Bhutan and Bhutan holds India in great regard for it being the largest democracy in the world. India has invested heavily in Bhutan in the natural resources.

Apart from above India also shares ties with Afghanistan through its political, military and economic support.With the withdrawal of US led NATO forces role of both India and its neighbours becomes important for the stable progress of Afghanistan. The current government in India has placed its neighbours at the centre of its policy and increasing contacts at all levels of engagement to develop the geopolitical entity of SAARC. Capacity building initiatives of India through technology transfer, financial inclusion, political and military support are critical and being taken up on priority for the development of this region. The challenges offered in cooperation are complex which can only be removed by both vertical and horizontal level engagement in all countries. India needs to address the fear of hegemony in the minds of its neighbours through dialogue and cooperation. The provenance of SAARC defines the noble purpose of shared prosperity co-development of this organization, however it needs to be measured through evaluation of overall social, economic and political progress of all countries in this region in times to come.

Tatsat Mishra

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