Time to Strengthen India-Russia Relations Again

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India), October 14, 2013 | Go to article overview

Time to Strengthen India-Russia Relations Again


India, Oct. 13 -- "If I had not come to Russia, life's pilgrimage would have remained incomplete", wrote Rabindranath Tagore in Letters from Russia. In the context of modern day India-Russia relations, these sentiments are an abiding testimony to the cultural bonding between India and Russia which, more than six and a half decades later, remain the backbone of their strong strategic partnership.

However, though India and Russia are special and privileged strategic partners, trade and investment relations are weak. Now with momentum building towards an Indo-Russian bilateral high-level summit meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the two countries have an opportunity for course correction.

Putin has signalled areas of convergence between India and Russia which should serve as the template for building cooperation: first, the common stakes in the rise of a multi-polar world structure; second, the fight against religious extremism and terrorism; third, economic cooperation in areas including in defence and energy; and fourth, common stakes in shaping regional and international affairs.

For India, relations with Russia remain the most decisive and strategic of partnerships, and India views Russia as pivotal in its foreign policy calculus, given India's stakes in the region with regard to energy security, expansion of trade and commercial prospects.

Russia, as the leading force behind the increasingly integrating Eurasian economic space, is crucial to India's plans to include Kazakhstan and Belarus in a proposed economic pact with Russia that would provide India access to a wider market in the region.

Bilateral trade has struggled to cross the $10 billion mark with the two-way exchange of goods in 2012 touching the $7 billion mark. Russia's decision to lift the ban on import of rice, rice cereals and peanuts from India has no doubt come in timely to boost exports. …

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