Indian people, who come to Uzbekistan, say that they fall in love with Uzbek cities, though it happens slowly.
Many of them find our cities, and first of all Tashkent as very beautiful, green and clean. Wide and well asphalted streets, which are not crowded, absence of traffic jam, neat parks, trees, meadows, narrow irrigation channels throughout the whole city, serene, azure sky and nice, warm and friendly people.
Uzbekistan has high traditions of welcoming its guests. Indian guests are usually overwhelmed by the warmth of the Uzbek hospitality. They are usually surprised how many Uzbek people love Indian songs and Bollywood stars. You can easily find somewhere on the shop-windows and house walls the posters of Shahrukh Khan or Rani Mukerji. If you go to bazaars, you can be welcomed by Uzbeks saying "Namaste" or by old Raj Kapoor's songs like "Mera joota hai Japani. Dil hai Hindustani"!!
Every week at least three Hindi films are dubbed in Uzbek language and shown on the National Uzbek TV. They are very popular among youth as were to the older generation. People really love them, having many other favourite actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Amir Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Sridevi, Aishwarya Rai, Mithun Chakraborty, Priety Zinta.
Once upon a time in Tashkent, during Soviet Union, the International Cinema Festival for Asian and African countries used to be held. Many of those famous old Bollywood stars were coming to our country.
One of the biggest international projects, which were filmed in Uzbekistan, is still considered the Adventures of Ali-Baba and the Forty Thieves. It was produced in 1980 during the Soviet era by Uzbekfilm studio in collaboration with India (Ganem-Rlm and Eagle-Films studios). This great movie was one of the top-selling films of all times in Soviet Union a huge film empire at those times. This colourful film-fantasy is based on the Oriental tale about the brave young man who managed to trick the guileful robbers. It featured a bunch of both Soviet and Indian film stars. The Adventures of Ali-Baba and the Forty Thieves had almost 53 million viewers just during the 1980 year only in the USSR.
But Uzbekistan people know well and remember with great respect and warmth not only film stars, but also the outstanding Indian political leaders, poets and writers. There are 4 Tashkent streets named after Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore and Lal Bahadur Shastri.
In January 1966, to broker peace between India and Pakistan, Soviet Union mediated a meeting between Lal Bahadur Shastri and Ayub Khan in Tashkent, Uzbekistan - those times one of the Soviet Socialistic Republics. India and Pakistan signed the joint declaration under Soviet Union mediation. Under the treaty India agreed to return to Pakistan all the territories occupied by it during the war. The joint declaration was signed on January 10, 1966 and Lal Bahadur Shastri suddenly died of heart attack on the same night. After that occurrence, in the centre of Tashkent the Lal Bahadur Shastri Monument was erected.
And you know what happened after visit of Indira Gandhi to Tashkent? Many newborn girl babies were given name after her!
There is also one place in Tashkent, which everybody knows. It's called "Ganga". Why? Because there was very popular big Indian shop named "Ganga". Lots of real fine goods from India were sold there. And that famous shop still exists! Even retained its name! But unfortunately, lost its Indian suppliers (we do hope it will start again).
Nowadays in Tashkent, we have very dynamic Indian Cultural Centre named after Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri which holds free classes in Hindi, Kathak, Tabla and Yoga. These classes are very popular and have become a very effective vehicle to familiarize Uzbek nationals with India's rich cultural heritage.
Another remarkable thing - Jawaharlal Nehru Indo-Uzbek Centre for Information and Technology has been established in Tashkent with an assistance of Rs. 3 crores from India.
There are more than a thousand words which are in common usage in Uzbekistan and North India (Hindi). Such words as "samosa" and "pulav" are originally Uzbek words.
Indian visitors of Uzbek monuments can immediately notice similarities with our medieval architecture. And it's obvious, as the close friendly relations between Uzbekistan and India have their roots deep in history.
And at present days Uzbekistan and India continue to work together in the interest of peace and stability in the region, well-being and prosperity of the people.
After the end of Soviet Union and getting Independence, on March 1992 India and Uzbekistan again established diplomatic relations.
The two countries share common values such as secularisms, tolerance and strong opposition to the forces of fundamentalism and terrorism. During the visit of President Islam Karimov to India in April 2005, an Agreement on Cooperation in Military and Military Technical areas had been signed. The two countries have been coordinating their efforts to fight terrorism through a Joint Working Group on Combating International Terrorism.
Modern Economic Relations
The cooperation between the two friendly countries spans many areas such as economic and commercial, cultural, education and technical training in diverse disciplines, information technology, science and technology, agriculture and civil aviation etc. There are 42 agreements to promote cooperation in the diverse fields.
Since 1993 Uzbekistan and India have signed three credit agreements according to which India has given to Uzbekistan three credit lines, 10 million US$ each, for the period of 10 years.
The representative office of "Uzbekistan Havo Yullari" National Airways Company was opened in Delhi in 1992, agency agreements with the Indian firms on realization of air transportations were made. Now the national airline makes regular passenger and cargo flights to Delhi and Amritsar.
In the field of Science and Agriculture, we have ongoing bilateral programmes of cooperation which involve exchange of visits by scientists and joint research projects.
Uzbekistan imports medicines, pharmaceutics, jewellers and carpet products, machines and tools, cosmetics, glass ceramics, chemical preparations, electronics, tea, etc. India imports cotton and its waste products, metal products and nonferrous metals, production of inorganic chemistry, silk, wool from Uzbekistan.
Indian companies are establishing joint ventures in textiles, silk, tourism, garment trade, pharmaceuticals, automobile parts, etc. and this will result in improvements in both trade and investment.
There is considerable scope for cooperation in mining as Uzbekistan is very rich in minerals. Gas Authority of India Limited has been discussing some possible investment ideas in both upstream and downstream sector in energy with Uzbek company Uzbekneftegaz. Uzbekistan has been successfully utilizing the coal gasification technologies and some of Indian major companies have shown an interest in buying this technology.
But the long-term economic interaction between our countries has not attained the desired level. It doesn't reflect the potential created by our growing economies.
Uzbekistan considers India not only as one of the biggest states on Asian continent but also as the country with political, economic, human and other potentials which can and should play a significant role in the resolving of problems in the world politics and economy.
Prepared by Rano M. Sattor