This year, we are celebrating the anniversary of a truly historic event. Seventy years ago – on April 13, 1947 – the governments of the USSR and India announced their decision to establish official missions in Delhi and Moscow. This step on our part logically followed up on our course for assisting India on its way to national liberation and contributed to strengthening its independence.
In the decades that have followed, our bilateral partnership has further intensified and strengthened, and has never been subject to expediency. Equal and mutually beneficial relations of the two States have steadily developed. This is quite natural. Our peoples have always had mutual sympathy and respect for each other’s spiritual values and culture.
(Courtesy: Kremlin press)
Today, we can take pride in what we have achieved. With Russia’s technical and financial assistance, the pioneers of Indian industrialization came into existence: metallurgical complexes in Bhilai, Visakhapatnam and Bokaro, the mining equipment plant in Durgapur, the thermal power station in Neyveli, the electromechanical enterprise in Korba, antibiotics plants in Rishikesh and the pharmaceutical plant in Hyderabad.
Soviet and, later on, Russian scientists and academics participated in the establishment of research and education centers in India. These include the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, research institutes of petroleum industry in Dehradun and Ahmedabad.
We are proud our specialists helped develop India’s space program. Thanks to this fruitful bilateral cooperation, in 1975 India’s first satellite, Aryabhata, was launched, and Indian citizen Rakesh Sharma travelled into space in 1984 as a crew member of Soyuz T-11.
In August 1971, our countries signed the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation, which set forth the fundamental principles of bilateral relations, such as respect for the sovereignty and each other’s interests, good neighborliness, and peaceful coexistence. In 1993, the Russian Federation and the Republic of India confirmed the inviolability of these basic principles in the new Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation. The Declaration on Strategic Partnership signed in 2000 provides for close coordination of approaches to ensuring international peace and security and resolving pressing global and regional issues. Annual summits have become an established practice in the Indian-Russian bilateral relations allowing us to discuss in a timely manner the efforts taken to accomplish our objectives and set long-term goals. In early June, we will have another summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in St. Petersburg. He is expected to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, in which India will for the first time participate as a partner country.
The legal framework comprising more than 250 documents is being updated on a regular basis. Effective work is carried out within intergovernmental commissions on cooperation in trade and economy, science and technology, as well as culture and military-technical field. Ministries of foreign affairs, security council offices and line ministries maintain continuous dialogue. The interparliamentary and interregional ties, as well as business and humanitarian contacts are actively developing. Military cooperation is also being enhanced: joint land and naval exercises are conducted regularly.
Cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy is one of the fundamental components of the relationship between India and Russia. The construction of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant with our assistance is a flagship project in this field. In 2013, the first nuclear power unit was put into operation. In October 2016, the second unit was transferred to the Indian side, and construction of the third and fourth power units began. All of this contributes to the implementation of the plans to develop nuclear energy in India involving the construction of at least 12 power units in its territory by 2020. These goals are stipulated in a joint document – the Strategic Vision for Strengthening India-Russia Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy. We intend to further share best practices in this important industry with India and contribute to enhancing its energy security.
(TOI file photo)
Collaboration in the traditional energy sector is successfully developing. The purchase of a block of shares in the Russian company “Vankorneft” made by the Indian consortium of companies has become the biggest bilateral deal in the oil industry. The possibilities for the participation of Indian companies in joint hydrocarbons exploration and production projects in the Russian Arctic shelf are currently under consideration. There are also good prospects for cooperation in the solar energy filed, modernization of the existing power plants and construction of new ones in the territory of India.
Large-scale projects are carried out in mechanical engineering, chemical and mining industries, aircraft construction, pharmaceutics and medicine.
One of the priorities is to boost the trade turnover and improve its structure, as well as stimulate economic activity of our business communities. I am referring to enhancing industrial cooperation and increasing supplies of high-tech products, creating a better business and investment environment, and using systems of payments in national currencies.
The decision to start negotiations on a free trade area agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and India adopted in December 2016 is of particular importance. The possibilities of creating the International North South Transport Corridor are being explored. All these factors should promote the development of our bilateral and regional cooperation.
To encourage reciprocal capital inflow, a working group on priority investment projects was established under the Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation. 19 most promising projects have already been selected. Russia is committed to long-term participation in the “Make in India” program initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Our countries cooperate intensively in the production of multipurpose weapons and military equipment. Co-production of a unique supersonic cruise missile “BrahMos” is our special pride. Since 1960, the overall value of contracts within the framework of military and technical cooperation has amounted to over USD 65 billion, while the portfolio of orders in 2012-2016 exceeded USD 46 billion.
India and Russia are equal partners in international affairs. Our countries support the establishment of a multipolar democratic system of international relations based on strict compliance with the principles of law and resting upon the UN central role. We are willing to further jointly counter challenges and threats of the 21st century, promote the unifying agenda and contribute to maintaining global and regional security.
We effectively interact within BRICS – an association that thanks to our collective efforts is increasing its weight and influence. This June, India will become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It will considerably enhance the potential of the SCO. India and Russia also work together within the G20 and other international formats.
I would also like to note that our countries closely coordinate positions on such complex issues as settling the situation in Syria and ensuring stability in the Middle East and North Africa region. They significantly contribute to the national reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
I am convinced that the enormous potential of cooperation between the two great powers will be further explored for the benefit of the peoples of India and Russia and the international community in general. We have everything necessary to achieve this – political will of the sides, economic viability and shared global priorities. All this is based on the glorious history of the Indian Russian friendship.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to convey the kindest regards to all the citizens of friendly India.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.
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Description of the above segments has been laid down below.
India – Russia Federation
Bilateral ties with Russia are a key pillar of India’s foreign policy. India sees Russia as a longstanding and time-tested friend that has played a significant role in its economic development and security. Since the signing of the “Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership” in October 2000 (during the visit of President Vladimir Putin to India) India-Russia ties have acquired a qualitatively new character with enhanced levels of cooperation taking place in almost all areas of the bilateral relationship including political, security, trade and economy, defense, energy, science and technology and culture. Under the Declaration of Strategic Partnership, several institutionalized dialogue mechanisms have been put in place that operate at the political and official levels, and ensure regular interaction and follow up on cooperation activities. In the last couple of years, the two countries have decided to further elevate the strategic partnership to the level of a “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership”. The 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Russia was celebrated on 13 April 2012.
Annual Summit meeting between the Prime Minister of India and the President of the Russian Federation is the highest institutionalized dialogue mechanism. Since the Declaration of Strategic Partnership, thirteen Summit meetings have taken place alternatively in India and Russia. The 13th Summit meeting between Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and President Vladimir Putin was held on December 24, 2012 in New Delhi. The two governments have also established two Inter-Governmental Commissions – one on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC), cochaired by the External Affairs Minister and the Russian Deputy Prime Minister and another on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC- MTC) co-chaired by the two Defense Ministers, both of which meet annually. IRIGC-MTC and IRIGCMTC meetings were respectively held in New Delhi on 10 October and 15 October 2012. The two countries also hold periodic parliamentary exchanges.
India- Russia cooperation in the military technical sphere has evolved from a simple buyer-seller framework to one involving joint research & development, joint production and marketing of advanced defence technologies and systems such as on the BrahMos missile system. Joint development of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft and the Multi-role Transport Aircraft, as well as the licensed production in India of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks, are other examples of flagship cooperation programs presently underway in this area.
Russia has been a partner of India in nuclear energy and recognizes India as a country with advanced nuclear technology and an impeccable nonproliferation record. The construction of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) exemplifies ongoing cooperation in this area. Units 1&2 of the KKNPP (VVER 1000 MW units) are being built with Russian collaboration. Unit 1 is due to be commissioned soon, while Unit 2 is at an advanced stage of construction. Negotiations for the construction of two additional Units 3&4 at Kudankulam are at an advanced stage.
India and Russia have also been collaborating in several high-technology projects. Under the 2004 Inter-Governmental Agreement on “Cooperation in the area of exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes”, Russia and India are cooperating on projects such as the Moon Mission ‘Chandrayan 2’, the planned Human Space Flight Project and GLONASS navigation. On 20 April 2011, the jointly developed Indian-Russian Student Satellite “Youthsat” was successfully launched by India on a PSLV rocket.
Bilateral trade has been growing steadily. Trade in 2011 stood at US $ 8.9 billion from a figure of US $ 7.5 billion in 2009. In 2011, Russian exports to India amounted to US $ 6.1 billion and imports from India to Russia amounted to US $ 2.8 billion. During January- October 2012, the bilateral trade amounted to US $ 8.72 bn. The two-way cumulative investment between India and Russia stands at approximately US $ 7.8 billion.
Both India and Russia acknowledge that given the respective sizes of their economies and the untapped economic complementarities, vast potential exists for an increase in bilateral trade volumes and investment. In 2009, both sides set the target of achieving US $ 20 billion in bilateral trade by 2015. Special attention is being paid to energy, pharmaceuticals, IT, steel, hydrocarbons, aerospace, and diamonds and food products for this purpose.
The India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC), co-chaired by the Indian External Affairs Minister and the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, is the main institutional mechanism supervising economic cooperation. It integrates six working groups on economic and trade cooperation, modernization and industrial cooperation, energy, tourism and culture, science and technology, and IT. The 18th IRIGC-TEC meeting took place in New Delhi on 15 October 2012.
The India-Russia Forum on Trade and Investment (established in 2007 and co-chaired by the Commerce and Industry Minister of India and the Russian Minister for Economic Development) and the India-Russia CEO’s Council (established in February 2008 and co-chaired by Mr. A. M. Naik, Chairman L & T Ltd., and Mr. Vladimir Yevtushenkov, CEO of SISTEMA) are the two primary mechanisms to promote direct business-to-business contacts. The last meeting of the India–Russia Forum on Trade & Investment was held on 15 October 2012 in New Delhi. Mechanisms such as the India-Russia Business Council (in partnership with FICCI of India and CCI of Russia) established in 2007; the India- Russia Trade, Investment and Technology Promotion Council (in partnership with CII of India and RUIE of Russia) established in 2007; and the India-Russia Chamber of Commerce (focusing on SMEs), supplement the efforts to build direct business-to-business ties. In June 2012, the 3rd India-Russia Business Dialogue was also held within the framework of the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
Science & Technology Cooperation
The Working Group on Science and Technology functioning under the IRIGC-TEC, the Integrated Long Term Programme (ILTP) and the Basic Science Cooperation Programme are the three main institutional mechanisms for bilateral S&T cooperation, while the Science Academies of the two countries promote inter-academy exchanges. The ILTP supports collaborative research in basic and applied sciences. It has resulted in establishment of 9 thematic centers in India and Russia and implementation of 500 projects. In 2010 the program was extended for 10 years with a renewed mandate – Innovation Led Technology Programme. An India-Russia Science & Technology Centre was set up in 2011- 12 with a branch each in Delhi-NCR and Moscow, to promote transfer and commercialization of technologies developed jointly / independently by scientists of the two countries.
There are strong traditions of cultural and academic exchanges between the two countries. Jawaharlal Nehru Cultural Center (JNCC) of the Embassy of India, Moscow maintains close links with Russian institutions such as the Institute of Philosophy, Moscow, that has a Mahatma Gandhi Chair on Indian Philosophy; Institute of Oriental Studies, Moscow; Institute of Asian and African Studies of the Moscow State University; School of International Relations, St. Petersburg University; Kazan State University; and Far Eastern National University, Vladivostok. About 20 Russian Institutions, including leading universities and schools, teach Hindi to over 1500 Russian students. Besides in Hindi, there are also Russian experts in Indian languages such as Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Pali, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Urdu. Interest in Indian dance and music is widespread and yoga is very popular in Russia. The JNCC conducts classes in yoga, dance, music and Hindi, for approximately 800 students every month.
There are several other cultural initiatives aimed at promoting people-topeople contacts between the two countries and the travel of Russian tourists to India has been rising in recent years. In 2009, the Year of India was held in Russia. In September 2011, a mini Festival of Indian Culture was organized in Russia, while several cultural events and academic conferences were held as part of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. During 2012, the Embassy of India, Moscow organized a number of academic, cultural and other events to mark the 65th anniversary of establishement of diplomatic ties between India and Russia. A Festival of Russian Culture was organized in India in 2012.
The Indian Community in the Russian Federation is estimated at about 15,000. In addition, there are about 1,500 Afghan nationals of Indian origin in Russia. There are about 500 Indian businessmen residing in Russia including about 200 who work in Moscow. It is estimated that there are around 300 registered Indian companies in Russia majority of them involved in trading. Tea, coffee, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, rice, spices, leather footwear, granite, I.T. and garments are amongst the products being imported by these companies from India. There are approximately 4,500 Indian students enrolled in medical and technical institutions in the Russian Federation. About 90% of these students pursue medical studies in about 20 universities/institutions spread across the country. The Hindustani Samaj is the oldest Indian organization in Russia. Set up in 1957, it works in close co-operation with the Embassy of India, Moscow. Other Indian organizations in Moscow include AMMA, DISHA, Indian Business Alliance, Overseas Bihar Association, Textile Business Alliance, Bhartiya Sanskritik Samaj, Brahma Kumaris, ISKCON, Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, and Ramakrishna Society Vedanta Centre. There is an Embassy of India School in Moscow, affiliated to Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan in New Delhi with teachers deputed from India. The School has classes from I to XII and has about 360 students.