INSTC: An Indian OBOR
It is difficult to say whether India has any answer to Chinese high profiled one belt road initiatives but some echoes are already there in diplomatic quarters so as to what is the significance of India pushed INSTC project and how it can affect the power equations in the specific region.
What is INSTC?
International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a multi-nation project to create transport and logistics infrastructure similar to OBOR. It is basically a geostrategic initiative being pushed by India to connect with Central Asia and Russia. The 7,200 km long INSTC project will be a multi-modal (ship, rail and road) transportation system which will connect the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via the Islamic Republic of Iran, beyond which it connects St Petersburg, Russia, and North Europe.
According to the joint Russian& Indian Report, “The main route of this project begins in Mumbai, passes along the sea to the Iranian ports of Chabahar, and from there by land to Iran’s Caspian Sea coast and beyond/or across the Caspian Sea to Astrakhan, or overland to Central Asia or the Caucasus to Russia and northern Europe.”
Why it matters?
It is expected that once completed, it will cut transportation time of cargo from India to Russia by half to about 30 days and the cost of deliveries are also expected to be cut down unprecedently to 30-40 percent. INSTC is much shorter than the current route, which runs through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea and takes about 60 days to reach Russia. India is also planning to actively use its Chabahar base in Iran which will provide support as its logistics hub.
Our take !!
We strongly believe that every country has full right to protect its sovereignty and therefore this initiative is in the best interest of its people and we stand by the government in this decision. As China is rapidly moving with its belt Road initiative and is successful in garnering the support of even the US, the European Union and Japan, it thus becomes mandatory for India to move forward in laying down a transport connectivity system and trade corridor of its own if we don’t want to see ourselves in a state of diplomatic isolation by being inactive on foreign policy front. This project is successful in changing the notion of the world regarding India from one who is resistive to intercontinental connectivity project to one who is eager, contributive and enthusiastic towards the phenomenonal venture.