India asked to invest for greater access to Iran
India was asked to invest in $8 billion worth infrastructure projects by the Iranian President Rouhani. According to Iran's envoy, this includes an extended role in advancing the Chabahar port-a "strategic port that will open up access to Central Asia". The plans were divulged after Modi's meeting with Rouhani on a critical tour of Central-Asia directed on increasing India's role in the area.
Why is Chabahar port so important for India?
The logic behind the endeavour to build the Chabahar port in Iran is connected to "geopolitical rivalry and strategic alliances" in the Indian subcontinent. The development of Chabahar port is strategically important for India as it will open the landlocked Afghanistan to India. This also gives India a connection with Afghanistan by circumventing Pakistan (especially since India's relations are mostly strained with its neighbour).
Chabahar will cut down costs
The port will be critical to Indian interest as it would "cut transport costs and freight time to Central Asia and the Gulf" by about a third.
In an effort to reduce Pakistan's strategic advantage, India is all set to seal the deal to construct a 900-km railway line connecting Afghanistan's Hajigak region to Chabahar port in Iran. The project is aimed at increasing India's presence in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will gain access to sea through this line and thus its dependence on Pakistan will be greatly reduced.
Economic perspective behind the project
The Chabahar port deal stands to push India economically as 11% of India's oil needs are met by Iran. It has been predicted that the trade between India and Iran could potentially reach $30 billion through the port. It would give opportunities for Indian companies to tap mineral wealth in Afghanistan which is believed to be worth $1-3 trillion (Rs 50-150 lakh crore).
Port Gwardar vs port Chabahar!
The strategic edge that Chabahar stands to provide for India is somewhat similar to the port at Gwadar in Pakistan which gives China a strategic position to monitor both Indian and US naval activity.
India eager to push Iranian port deal
Despite pressure from US to ward off deals with Iran, India said that it would push ahead with plans to build a port in southeast Iran. Modi had taken this step after the Chinese President Xi Jinping signed $46 billion energy and infrastructure deals with Pakistan. Anticipating that Iran's nuclear deal would be being signed on 30 June, India sent a delegation to Iran.