7 PM | Bear hug: On India strengthening relations with Russia | 7th September, 2019

Context: India – Russia Relations.

More in news:

  • PM Modi launches ‘Act Far East’ policy to boost India’s engagement with Russia’s Far East.
  • Addressing the plenary session of the 5th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, PM Modi extends $1 billion line of credit for development of Russia’s Far East.

Act Far East Policy:

  • Act Far East’ is said to be an extension to India’s Act East policy.
  • The focus of the Act East policy, which began as a “Look East policy” — that was launched by the former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao in 1991 — was to shift the country’s trading focus from the west and neighbour to the booming South East Asian countries.
  • Its major objectives are to increase the interaction of the northeastern Indian states with other neighbouring countries and to curb the increasing impact of China in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.
  • Some of the major projects in this collaboration with South-East Asian countries include the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project, Border Haats and Rhi-Tiddim Road Project, etc.
  • So far, it has not only helped build better bilateral ties with the eastern countries but also shifted the focus from the west, to further enhance global understanding and multi-lateral cooperation.

Eastern Economic Forum:

  • PM Modi became first Indian prime minister to visit the Russian Far East Region. He visited the place to participate in the 20th India-Russia annual summit with President Putin and the fifth meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF).
  • The Eastern Economic forum focuses on the development of business and investment opportunities in the Russian Far East Region and presents enormous potential for developing close and mutually beneficial cooperation between India and Russia in the region.

India-Russia Relations:

Relations between India and Russia are rooted in history, mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation.  This is a strategic partnership that has withstood the test of time, and which enjoys the support of the people of both countries. 

  • Traditional ties:
    • Diplomatic relations between India and Russia began even before India achieved independence, on 13 April 1947. 
    • In the period immediately following independence the goal for India was attaining economic self-sufficiency through investment in heavy industry. 
    • The Soviet Union invested in several new enterprises in the areas of heavy machine-building, mining, energy production and steel plants. 
    • During India’s second Five Year Plan, of the sixteen heavy industry projects set up, eight were initiated with the help of the Soviet Union.  This included the establishment of the world famous IIT Bombay. 
    • The signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in August 1971 was a watershed moment in relations between India and the Soviet Union.  The Treaty was the manifestation of shared goals of the two nations as well as a blueprint for the strengthening of regional and global peace and security.  
    • After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, India and Russia entered into a new Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in January 1993 and a bilateral Military-Technical Cooperation agreement in 1994. 
    • The strategic partnership (2000) institutionalized annual meetings between the Prime Minister of India and the President of Russia and meetings have been held regularly since then.
    • The relationship was elevated to the status of a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership in 2010.
    • There are two institutionalized dialogue mechanism:
      • the Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC), co-chaired by the External Affairs Minister of India and the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia
      • the Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) co-chaired by the Defense Ministers of both countries. 
  • Defence Relations:
    • The defence facet of the relationship is one of the strongest pillars of the India-Russia relationship and has withstood the test of time.  India, with Russia’s cooperation, has achieved capacity building in strategic areas through acquisitions and development of weapons.
    • The relationship is evolving from the traditional buyer-seller one to that of joint production and development, with emphasis on technology sharing.  Russia is committed to becoming a partner in the ‘Make in India’ programme. 
    • The first-ever TriServices Exercise, Indra 2017, that India has ever held with any country was held with Russia in 2017 in Vladivostok.
    • In 2018, India has contracted defence deals worth about $14.5 billion from Russia.
  • Economic Relations:
    • Trade between the two countries is an area which has been identified for special focus by both countries. Bilateral trade in 2015 amounted to US$ 7.83 billion.
    • Both the countries have set a target of total trade in goods and services of US$ 30 billion each way by 2025.
    • India and Russia have set up a US$ 1 billion Fund to promote mutual investment in infrastructure and technology projects. 
    • Both the countries have nine sister State and sister city agreements.
    • India, Russia and other neighbouring countries are engaged in efforts to operationalise the International North-South Transport Corridor which promises to propel connectivity and trade relations between the two countries.
    • The two countries have agreed to cooperate in projects in third countries. Both have been cooperating in the Roopur Nuclear Power Project in Bangladesh. Indian and Russian companies have been cooperating in oil and gas exploration in Vietnam. 
  • Relations in Nuclear Energy: 
    • Russia is an indispensable partner in the sphere of nuclear energy and recognizes India as a responsible country with advanced nuclear technology with an impeccable non-proliferation record.
    • After the Paris Agreement on Climate Change India considers nuclear energy as an important source of energy to meet its energy and climate change obligations. This has brought both countries together into a mutually beneficial relationship. 
    • Rosatom is building six units of nuclear reactors at the Kudankulam site in Tamil Nadu. Two units are already operational and the next four are in different stages of implementation.  This is in line with the “Strategic Vision” document signed in 2014 between President Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
    • India attaches very high importance to local manufacturing in India of equipment and components for upcoming and future Russian-designed nuclear power projects. 

Outcome of recent visit:

  • Both side agreed to more actively engage the impressive resource and human resources potential of India and Russia, enhance industrial cooperation, create new technological and investment partnership, especially in advanced high-tech areas and find new avenues and forms of cooperation.
  • In context of giving boost to ‘Make in India’, both agreed to speed up preparations for signing of the India-Russia Intergovernmental Agreement on Promotion and Mutual Protection of Investments.
  • Development of the Russian Far East: Several Indian companies have been successfully set up in the Far East region, such as M/s KGK in Vladivostok in the field of diamond cutting and M/s Tata Power in Krutogorovo in Kamchatka in coal mining. The Russian side welcomed the intent of the Indian side to expand its economic and investment presence in the Far Eastern region and Siberia.
  • India looks forward to cooperate with Russia in the Arctic. India has been following the developments in the Arctic region with interest and is also ready to play a significant role in the Arctic Council.
  • The two countries signed the Roadmap for cooperation in Hydrocarbons for 2019-24.
  • To promote further development of trade and economic ties between India and Russia, the Sides intend to work on improving the transport infrastructure. This highlights the great importance to the development of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). The major thrust in the INSTC is to secure freight volumes, upgrade and improve the transport and logistics services provided, simplify document workflow and switch to electronic document workflow, introduce digital technologies and satellite navigation into the transportation process.
  • The two countries are emphasizing on intensifying development of high-tech products in spheres like telecommunications, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnologies, pharmacy and others.
  • Both intend to strengthen cooperation within the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUS), including guaranteeing long-term sustainability of outer space activities and developing “Space 2030” Agenda and implementation plan.
  • India and Russia unanimously recognize the effectiveness and great potential of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. India and Russia will increase their interaction, including in the framework of Russia’s SCO Presidency in 2019-2020, to further strengthen the Organization as an important pillar of the emerging multi-polar world order based on equal and indivisible security.

Looking Ahead: 

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. Special focus will be given to cooperation between the younger generation and cultural sphere. India and Russia will continue to remain a role model for harmonious and mutually beneficial partnership and strong friendship between States. This will be to the benefit of our States and international community as a whole. 

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/bear-hug-on-india-strengthening-relations-with-russia/article29355066.ece

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