By Syed Mahmoud waz
India and Russia have recently completed 70 years of diplomatic relations. On April 13 2017, which marked the historic occasion, a grand launch function for year-long celebrations to salute this friendship was held in New Delhi. More than 100 events, which will span diverse areas of bilateral collaboration, will be held both in India and Russia during the year-long celebrations.
Solid at diplomatic levels, the relations between the two countries are also strongly characterized by people to people relations. Though, the official diplomatic ties between the two great tions may only be seven decades old, there have been extremely enriching interactions between the Indians and Russians at various levels over the last many centuries.
Indian and Russian cultures started intermingling more closely from mid 19th century onwards. While Rabindrath Tagore’s poetry was translated into Russian, Mahatma Gandhi and Leo Tolstoy corresponded with each other on their great world views. In the 20th century, the immortal works of Nicholas Roerich and his love for India became a part of India’s rich cultural legacy. Russian writers like Dostoevsky, Pushkin and Chekov still continue to have a deep impact on Indian thought and drama.
The history of ideas is dotted with landmarks of correspondence between great minds. The interaction between Mahatma Gandhi and Leo Tolstoy is one such fasciting example. Gandhi and Tolstoy admired each other’s philosophy of life and their minds met on common intellectual ground. Their message is as relevant today as it was in their lifetime. The world is still plagued with hunger, social injustice and political and economic oppression.
Both Gandhi and Tolstoy were committed to advocating human brotherhood and unity of all creations. And it is such deeply emotiol friendships - rooted in strong civilizatiol commolities that form the foundation of the bond that we the people of India and Russia have been enjoying for years, decades and centuries.
Post India’s Independence, Russia was a key contributor to India’s emergence as a significant industrial & scientific power. It has been India’s steadfast and unvarying friend and has helped us propel our country into the modern age and this has allowed us to take our rightful place in the comity of tions.
In the current times too, relations with Russia are a key pillar of India’s foreign policy. Russia has been a longstanding time-tested partner of India. Since the signing of ‘Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership’ during President Vladimir Putin’s visit in October 2000, India-Russia ties have acquired a qualitatively new character with enhanced levels of cooperation in almost all areas of the bilateral relationship including political, security, trade and economy, defense, science and technology and culture.
Under the Strategic Partnership, several institutiolized dialogue mechanisms operate at both political and official levels to ensure regular interaction and follow up on cooperation activities. In 2010, the Strategic Partnership was elevated to the level of a ‘Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’.
One of the strongest pillars of India-Russia strategic partnership — Military Technical Cooperation is the route for acquiring cutting-edge military technologies and platforms for our armed forces. Now this cooperation has evolved from a simple buyer-seller framework to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced defence technologies and systems. We also hold exchanges and training exercises between our armed forces annually. Soon India will have a first-ever tri-service exercise with Russia which will include assets and manpower from Army, vy and IAF-all the three services together.
In 2007, India and Russia signed a framework agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, including satellite launches, GLOSS vigation, remote sensing and other societal applications of outer space. The cooperation in the field of outer space is not new. The year 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of the launch, on a Russian (then USSR) launch vehicle ‘Soyuz’, of India’s first satellite “Aryabhata” which was built by ISRO.
In December 2014, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Russia’s Rosatom signed the Strategic Vision for strengthening cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy between India and Russia. Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is being built in India with Russian co-operation. Units 1 and 2 of KKNPP have already become operatiol.
(The author is a senior jourlist and film-maker. He writes on a variety of subjects.)