Russian President Vladimir Putin is in New Delhi for barely 17 hours, but his long-awaited visit has ironed out some of the recent rough edges and pitched bilateral ties into a higher trajectory. The fabled time-tested ties between India and Russia, long-time strategic partners, have survived the vagaries of the shifting world order and despite murmurs of scepticism in some Western capitals remain one of the enduring diplomatic relationships, marked by rare warmth and a convergence of strategic interests. In an article in The Hindu, Putin set the tone for his day-long visit (December 24) and the future trajectory of India-Russia relations.
“Political epochs changed but the principles of bilateral ties, such as mutual confidence and equality, remained the same. I would like to stress that deepening of friendship and cooperation with India is among the top priorities of our foreign policy. And now we have every reason to say that they have really unique special and privileged character,” he writes.
In a veiled dig at arrogant unilateralism displayed by some status quo powers, Putin held up the India-Russia relations as an anchor of stability amid the churn in international politics. “In that situation India and Russia show an example of responsible leadership and collective actions in the international arena.” Underlining the global dimension of the India-Russia partnership, Putin says that India and Russia share a common goal in making the world “more just, democratic and secure” by spurring resolution of global and regional problems, including the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, and in Afghanistan. This partnership, Putin, the original architect of the strategic and privileged partnership between India and Russia in the 21st century, is aimed at setting up “a new architecture for a multipolar world order.” “Joint steps in the international arena, participation in the development of rules of global trade and enhancing business, scientific and technological and humanitarian ties form the basis for achieving a new quality of partnership,” he writes.
Setting the target of doubling bilateral trade to $20 billion by 2015, Putin also sought to address head-on the economic deficit in the India-Russia relationship as trade and investment have not kept pace with strategic ideas.
“To this end, we should engage all reserves and maintain direct contacts between business communities and promote establishing efficient investment, technological and industry alliances in the most dynamic and promising fields, for instance, in the energy industry, primarily the nuclear one.”
Another important area of potential, Putin indicated, is to incrementally bridge knowledge and information gap between people of the two countries despite cultural affinity spanning centuries. “The centuries-old history and culture of India, majestic architectural monuments and museums of Delhi, Agra and Mumbai have a unique attractive force. In its turn, Indian citizens with interest discover the wealth of Russian music, literature and art.”
Looking ahead, Putin outlines the broad template of what he calls “joint prospects for strategic partnership between India and Russia in the 21 century.” “These are deepening of cooperation in knowledge-intensive fields based on strong historic traditions, advancement of joint products to international markets, further increasing of the share of high value added products in the trade turnover, enhancing the role and effectiveness of Indian-Russian interaction in international affairs, and the widest possible realization of the potential of cultural and humanitarian contacts.”
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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