Indo-Rus­sian ties stronger than ever

SP's MAI - - FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK - Jayant Baranwal Pub­lisher & Ed­i­tor-in-Chief

The quick visit of the Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin to In­dia in De­cem­ber cer­tainly has ruf­fled many a feather, specif­i­cally the United States which cat­e­gor­i­cally said it was ‘not time for business as usual’ with Rus­sia con­sid­er­ing its in­volve­ment in the Ukraine cri­sis. Not­with­stand­ing th­ese mur­murs, In­dia and Rus­sia have fur­ther en­dorsed their re­la­tion­ship which has a place of its own in the geopol­i­tics of the re­gion.

This re­la­tion­ship has to be seen in the back­drop of the US-Pak­istan re­la­tion­ship. Re­cently, the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives ac­cepted Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ar­gu­ment that stop­ping US fund­ing to Pak­istan would hurt US in­ter­ests and ap­proved $65.8-mil­lion US aid to Pak­istan for 2015. And last year, the United States is said to have re­leased over $1.6 bil­lion in mil­i­tary and eco­nomic aid to Pak­istan. Though re­la­tions be­tween In­dia and the US have con­sid­er­ably im­proved, Rus­sia re­mains In­dia’s key and strate­gic part­ner for best known rea­sons. Last year a BBC World Ser­vice poll in­di­cated that 42 per cent of Rus­sians viewed In­dia pos­i­tively with only 9 per cent ex­press­ing a neg­a­tive view.

Be­fore Rus­sia be­came sep­a­rate, In­dia has had close ties with USSR, en­joy­ing a strong strate­gic, mil­i­tary, eco­nomic and diplo­matic re­la­tion­ship. After the col­lapse of USSR, Rus­sia in­her­ited this bond­ing. This bond­ing is built over six as­pects—pol­i­tics, de­fence, eco­nomics, civil nu­clear en­ergy, anti-ter­ror­ism co­op­er­a­tion and space. Eco­nom­i­cally, both coun­tries have set a tar­get for $20 bil­lion in bi­lat­eral trade by 2015.

How­ever, in the realm of de­fence, the re­la­tion­ship has been spread over many years. In­dia be­ing the sec­ond largest mar­ket for the Rus­sian de­fence in­dus­try, the lat­ter is keen on ex­tend­ing this in the light of In­dia’s Make in In­dia as­pi­ra­tions. In­dia and Rus­sia have sev­eral ma­jor joint mil­i­tary pro­grammes such as the Brah­Mos mis­sile pro­gramme, Sukhoi Su-30MKI pro­gramme (over 230 air­craft to be built by the Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Limited), etc. The joint ven­tures to de­velop the fifth-gen­er­a­tion fighter air­craft (FGFA) and the multi-role trans­port air­craft are tes­ti­mony to the co­op­er­a­tion. Both coun­tries signed a de­fence deal worth $2.9 bil­lion dur­ing Pres­i­dent Putin’s visit to In­dia in De­cem­ber 2012. How­ever, dur­ing this visit no mil­i­tary-tech­ni­cal con­tracts were signed as the two coun­tries al­ready have drawn up a port­fo­lio of or­ders to 2020 that are worth $20 bil­lion.

As mil­i­tary deals with many for­eign sup­pli­ers are go­ing to be on the radar, there is need for mak­ing the pur­chas­ing sys­tem trans­par­ent and ef­fi­cient. The Min­istry of De­fence has de­cided to en­cour­age reg­is­tra­tion of le­galised agents with the new pol­icy ex­pected to be on track soon. Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd) dis­cusses this is­sue wherein we see the Modi Gov­ern­ment work­ing al­ready to over­haul the pol­icy on hir­ing of de­fence agents by for­eign ar­ma­ment com­pa­nies after im­ple­ment­ing nu­anced black­list­ing norms to re­place the ear­lier in­dis­crim­i­nate ones. The Oc­to­ber re­port men­tioned that the Min­istry had al­ready held one round of top-level dis­cus­sions on the pol­icy for ‘au­tho­rised In­dian rep­re­sen­ta­tives or agents’ and the role they can play in fa­cil­i­tat­ing and smoothen­ing arms deals in a le­git­i­mate man­ner.

We hope that the pro­cesses be­come ef­fi­cient, trans­par­ent and pro­gres­sive.

Happy Hol­i­days!

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