India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical and cultural links. India has played a significant role in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan. We believe that democracy and development are the key instruments to ensure that Afghanistan becomes a source of regional stability. This has been reflected in the Strategic Partnership Agreement, signed between Afghanistan and India during Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s visit to India in October 2011, which reinforced the strong, vibrant and multi-faceted relations between the two countries and at the same time formalized a framework for cooperation in various areas between the two countries: political & security cooperation; trade & economic cooperation; capacity development and education; and social, cultural, civil society & people-to-people relations. This agreement is a strong signal of our abiding commitment to peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan during this critical period of security and governance transition. The commitment is also reflected in our extensive developmental assistance programme, which now stands at around US $2 billion, making India the 5th largest bilateral donor in Afghanistan after the US, UK, Japan and Germany. This, by any reckoning, is a substantial amount for a non-traditional donor like India.
India has played an active role in the development of Afghanistan based on the understanding that social and economic development in Afghanistan is crucial to regional stability. The principal objective of India’s development partnership is to assist in building indigenous Afghan capacity and institutions and to ensure that development touches all the regions of Afghanistan and encompasses all the sectors of development. India’s pledged assistance to Afghanistan stands at a little under U.S. $2 billion, making it the fifth largest bilateral donor in Afghanistan. All the projects are undertaken in partnership with the Afghan government, in consonance with the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. India’s programmes cover four broad areas – infrastructure projects, humanitarian assistance, small and community-based development projects, and education and capacity development. The 218 km road project from Zaranj to Delaram in southwestern Afghanistan to facilitate movement of goods and services to the Iranian border and, onward, to the Chahbahar Port was inaugurated by the Afghan President and Indian External Affairs Minister in January 2009. India constructed the 202 kms long 220 kV DC transmission line from Pul-e-Khumri to Kabul and a 220/110/20 kV sub-station at Chimtala, bringing Uzbek electricity and lighting up the city of Kabul throughout the year. This project was completed in collaboration with the Afghan Government, ADB and the World Bank, with inputs from USAID and international energy firms, and is an outstanding example of regional and international cooperation in Afghanistan. The other two major infrastructure projects, the construction of the Afghan Parliament in Kabul and the construction of Salma Dam power project in Herat province, are under progress. Under humanitarian assistance, India supplies 100 gms of fortified, high-protein biscuits every day to each of the nearly two million school children in 33 of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan under a School Feeding Programme administered through the World Food Programme. During the visit of President Karzai to India in January 2009, India announced the gift of 250,000 metric tonnes of wheat to assist Afghanistan tide over its food shortage. The Indian Medical Missions in the five major cities are providing free medical consultations and medicines to over 30,000 Afghans every month. An innovative scheme focussing on small and community-based development projects, with a short gestation period and having a direct impact on community life was unveiled during Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit to Afghanistan in August 2005. In education and institution development, India is providing every year 675 long-term university scholarships, sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) for under-graduate and post-graduate studies for Afghan students in India. Similarly, another 675 annual short-term India Technical and Educational Cooperation (ITEC) training scholarships for Afghan public servants are provided in Indian technical and professional institutions. More than 20 Indian Civil Servants served as coaches and mentors under Capacity for Afghan Public Administration programme supported by UNDP and the Governments of Afghanistan and India. Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) built an India-Afghanistan Vocational Training Centre for training Afghan youth in carpentry, plumbing, welding, masonry and tailoring. Another innovative programme was executed by the well-known Indian NGO, SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association), which built a Women’s Vocational Training Centre in Bagh-e- Zanana in Kabul for training of Afghan women (War-widows and orphans) in garment making, nursery plantation, and food processing and marketing. Capacity Building Programmes are also underway in the fields of diplomacy, media and information, civil aviation, agricultural research and education, healthcare and medicinal science, tourism, education, standardisation, rural development, public administration, electoral management and administration and local governance.
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