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PUTIN’S VISIT TO INDIA Will resuscitate Indo-Russian ties

 source:  BSC Chronicle

      India and Russia have shared a very close relationship for ages.  During the Cold War, India was considered the closest ally of the erstwhile USSR, from which the present Russia emerged.  Things changed a lot with the end of the Cold War, India gradually started warming up to the US. Later on, we started being identified more with the US than with Russia.
     However, India took a sensible step in welcoming Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, to India Dec.10-11.  This has sent an unmistakable message that India has not distanced itself from Russia.  Among others, it was agreed that a consortium of Indian companies would acquire stake in a $2-bn Russian potash project.  A $10-bn agreement was also made to import crude oil from Russia to India.
     A contract was made to implement the third and fourth reactors of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.  A joint investment fund of $1 bn was created for Indian infrastructure and hydroelectric projects.  Other strategic deals covered oil supply, infrastructure and an increase in direct diamond sales to India by Russian firm Alrosa.  Russia offered to help India set up at least 10 more nuclear reactors and manufacture light-utility helicopters in line with the Make-in-India campaign.
     The bilateral trade with Russia in 2013-14 witnessed a decline of 7.8 percent and amounted to $6 bn.  India’s exports to Russia stood at $2.1 bn, and imports from Russia were $3.9 bn.  India’s exports to Russia increased in the last fiscal by 29.1 per cent whereas imports decreased by 8.5 per cent.  India’s exports to Russia have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 14.1 per cent from 2008-09 to 2013-14.  Imports from Russia have witnessed a decline of 2.1 per cent during the same period.  The share of Russia in India’s imports has declined to 0.87 per cent.
     After the meeting with Modi was over, Putin disclosed to the media, “During our meeting, we paid special attention to trade and economic issues.  By the end of 2013, our trade turnover reached $ 10 bn, but we believe – and it is obvious – that this is absolutely insufficient…. we agreed to stimulate companies in both countries to activate joint work and to speed up the transition to the use of national currencies in mutual settlements.”
     Putin also revealed, “We will assist in creating an Indian mobile operator.  We are interested in the Indian initiative to build a Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor… A buildozer equipment assembly line will soon reach design capacity.  In 2016, with the assistance of Russian company Sibur Holding, we will complete the construction of one of the world’s largest butyl-rubber-producing plants in Mr Modi’s home state of Gujarat.”
     In their joint statement, the two leaders agreed to step up efforts to enhance bilateral trade, setting a turnover target of $30 bn by 2025.  It is expected that mutual investments by then will be over $15 bn.  The two sides also decided to work towards enhanced cooperation in “oil and  gas sphere”, and said they would study the possibilities of building a hydrocarbon pipeline system connecting Russia with India.  The ambitious agenda for partnership in oil and natural gas is the need of the hour because we know how the rise of terror organizations like the ISIS in Iraq and Syria has affected peace and stability in Gulf countries.
     India and Russia agreed to build new nuclear reactors through 20 years, even as Russia plans to supply as many as 25 nuclear units to meet India’s rising energy needs.  Modi said, “I am pleased that the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) is co-stream. It has added 20 per cent to the existing nuclear power capacity in India.  We are on course to installing the next three units of 1,000 mw each. `Today, we have outlined an ambitious vision for nuclear energy… at least 10 more reactors.”
     Putin also added that talks on a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), comprising Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, would be launched soon.  This would certainly enhance further the trade relations between both the countries.  Putin said new prospects would open up for Russian-Indian co-operation with the launch of the EEU on Jan.1
     In the wake of severe trade sanctions imposed by the US and the EU on Russia, the Kremlin hopes  India will be a major buyer of its crude oil and nuclear fuel and help ease the huge burden imposed on it.  Russia also plans to ramp up its merchandise trade with India, currently at $ 10 bn.  Both govts plant to double this by 2015.
    The two leaders agreed to work together for the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the 70th anniversary summit of the UN.  The vision statement said, “The leaders expressed hope that all safe havens and sanctuaries for terrorists will be wiped out a without delay and terrorism will be completely eradicated from the common region within decade.”
    Putin’s visit to India is bound to cement and further strengthen relations between both the countries.  The two countries will benefits immensely by the agreements signed between them, and trade and commerce will also go up immensely from now onwards.  It is in India’s best interest to always keep Russia by its side so that whenever need arises, we have a dependable and tested ally who shall be there with us and who, being a permanent member of the UN and a big nuclear power, cannot be taken lightly by anyone in the world.

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