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RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- INDIA-RUSSIA PARTNERSHIP

RSTV

 

 

Introduction:

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was in New Delhi on a two-day visit to India and held delegation level talks with his Indian counterpart.

Background:

  • Relations with Russia are a key pillar of India’s foreign policy, and Russia has been a longstanding time-tested partner of India.
  • Both countries signed “Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership” in October 2000.
  • Traditionally, the Indo-Russian strategic partnership has been built on five major components: politics, defence, civil nuclear energy, anti-terrorism co-operation and space.

Why Russia is Important for India?

  • The historical character of the bilateral relationship.
  • Even as India is diversifying its defense trade partners, Russia still dominates the Indian defense inventory to the tune of about 70 per cent.
  • Russia remains the only partner that is still willing to give India critical technologies, such as a nuclear submarine.
  • The emerging Russia-China strategic relationship has important security consequences for India.
  • Russia also reaffirmed its “unwavering support” to India for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council.
  • Russia expressed its support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  • Both countries have mutual benefits in supporting struggle against terrorism, Afghanistan, climate change; organisations like SCO, BRICS, G-20 and ASEAN..

Economic ties:

  • Russia-India trade has not grown to great heights despite the encouragement of both states.
  • Russia sees India – one of the fastest growing economies in the world – as a country that could alleviate Russia’s economic problems.
  • Make in India initiative has welcomed Russian companies from the public and private sectors.
  • Russian firms have shown a willingness to invest in India in construction, major infrastructure projects such as dedicated freight corridors and industrial clusters, smart cities, and engineering services, sharing technologies and skills.
  • Indian companies are exploring major investment options in Russia, especially in natural resources such as coal, fertilizers, hydrocarbons, minerals, and rare earth metals.
  • Trade and investment relations are not up to the mark and this needs improvements.

Energy ties:

  • The Russia-India investments in the oil and gas sector and exports to third countries need to be energised.
  • Russia is an important partner in peaceful uses of nuclear energy and it recognizes India as a country with advanced nuclear technology with an impeccable non-proliferation record.
  • Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is being built in India with Russian cooperation.

Political ties:

  • New Delhi needs Moscow’s support in the former’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
  • The Russians have backed the Indian position on Kashmir.
  • India and Russia are engaged in several multilateral efforts that are greatly favoured by Russia such as the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
  • Annual Summit meeting is the highest institutionalized dialogue mechanism under the Strategic Partnership

Issues of terrorism:

  • Counterterrorism is another area where both countries find a convergence of interest.
  • Both countries strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms, stressing the need for an effective global effort in dealing with the terrorist menace.
  • They also called for the elimination, once and for all, of all terrorist “safe havens,” presumably referring to Pakistan.
  • India and Russia also share concerns about the aggravation of the security situation in Afghanistan, including along its borders.
  • India openly shared Russia’s concerns over developments in Syria.
  • India’s stance on Syria will certainly help cement its ties with Russia countering the earlier feeling that India was not coming forward to support Russia in difficult times.

Cultural Cooperation:

  • There is a strong tradition of Indian studies in Russia.
  • Apart from Hindi, languages such as Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Urdu, Sanskrit and Pali are taught in Russian Institutions.
  • There is general interest among Russian people in Indian dance, music, yoga and ayurveda.
  • There are regular cultural initiatives to promote people-to-people contacts between India and Russia

Way Forward:

  • India-Russian relationship is passing through an interesting phase.
  • There are bilateral challenges that need to be overcome.
  • The defense deals and nuclear energy cooperation should keep the India-Russia relationship afloat.
  • India has to rebuild on its strengths and common concerns with the Russians.
  • Need to focus on increasing trade and investment ties between India and Russia.
  • India must attract Russian investors to tap the vast opportunities in India’s infrastructure space.

Conclusion:

  • India and Russia have identified several new areas of cooperation.
  • These range from deep sea exploration to building knowledge based economies based on science and technology, innovation, robotics and artificial intelligence, focussing on infrastructure, skill development, agriculture, shipbuilding, railways, aviation and greater connectivity, especially people-to-people contacts.
  • The two countries decided to setup more than 20 Russian designed nuclear units in India in the next 20-years.
  • Above all, the push to ‘Act Far East’ allows India to demonstrate its commitment to an area of concern for Moscow, thus reassuring its traditional partner that in an increasingly polarised world, India is confident of working with multiple alignments, even if they are at cross purposes with each other.