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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS–On India strengthening relations with Russia

The Editorial covers GS paper 2 [Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests]

Introduction

  • PM Modi launches ‘Act Far East’ policy to boost India’s engagement with Russia’s Far East.
  • Addressing the plenary session of the 5th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, PM Modi extends $1 billion line of credit for development of Russia’s Far East.

What is Act Far East Policy?

  • ‘Act Far East' is said to be an extension to India’s Act East policy.
  • The focus of the Act East policy, which began as a “Look East policy” — that was launched by the former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao in 1991 — was to shift the country's trading focus from the west and neighbour to the booming South East Asian countries.
  • Its major objectives are to increase the interaction of the north eastern Indian states with other neighbouring countries and to curb the increasing impact of China in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.
  • Some of the major projects in this collaboration with South-East Asian countries include the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project, Border Haats and Rhi-Tiddim Road Project, etc.
  • So far, it has not only helped build better bilateral ties with the eastern countries but also shifted the focus from the west, to further enhance global understanding and multi-lateral cooperation.

What is Eastern Economic Forum?

  • PM Modi became first Indian prime minister to visit the Russian Far East Region. 
  • He visited the place to participate in the 20th India-Russia annual summit with President Putin and the fifth meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF).
  • The Eastern Economic forum focuses on the development of business and investment opportunities in the Russian Far East Region and presents enormous potential for developing close and mutually beneficial cooperation between India and Russia in the region.
  • Relations between India and Russia are rooted in history, mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation.  
  • This is a strategic partnership that has withstood the test of time, and which enjoys the support of the people of both countries. 

What are the traditional ties with Russia?

  • Diplomatic relations between India and Russia began even before India achieved independence, on 13 April 1947. 
  • In the period immediately following independence the goal for India was attaining economic self-sufficiency through investment in heavy industry. 
  • The Soviet Union invested in several new enterprises in the areas of heavy machine-building, mining, energy production and steel plants. 
  • During India’s second Five Year Plan, of the sixteen heavy industry projects set up, eight were initiated with the help of the Soviet Union. 
  • This included the establishment of the world famous IIT Bombay. 
  • The signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in August 1971 was a watershed moment in relations between India and the Soviet Union.  
  • The Treaty was the manifestation of shared goals of the two nations as well as a blueprint for the strengthening of regional and global peace and security.  
  • After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, India and Russia entered into a new Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in January 1993 and a bilateral Military-Technical Cooperation agreement in 1994. 
  • The strategic partnership (2000) institutionalized annual meetings between the Prime Minister of India and the President of Russia and meetings have been held regularly since then.
  • The relationship was elevated to the status of a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership in 2010.

What are the outcomes of the recent visit?

  • The two countries signed the Roadmap for cooperation in Hydrocarbons for 2019-24.
  • To promote further development of trade and economic ties between India and Russia, the Sides intend to work on improving the transport infrastructure. 
  • This highlights the great importance to the development of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). 
  • The major thrust in the INSTC is to secure freight volumes, upgrade and improve the transport and logistics services provided, simplify document workflow and switch to electronic document workflow, introduce digital technologies and satellite navigation into the transportation process.
  • The two countries are emphasizing on intensifying development of high-tech products in spheres like telecommunications, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnologies, pharmacy and others.
  • Both intend to strengthen cooperation within the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUS), including guaranteeing long-term sustainability of outer space activities and developing "Space 2030” Agenda and implementation plan.
  • India and Russia unanimously recognize the effectiveness and great potential of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. 
  • India and Russia will increase their interaction, including in the framework of Russia’s SCO Presidency in 2019-2020, to further strengthen the Organization as an important pillar of the emerging multi-polar world order based on equal and indivisible security.

Conclusion

  • India and Russia have identified several new areas of cooperation.
  • These range from deep sea exploration to building knowledge based economies based on science and technology, innovation, robotics and artificial intelligence, focussing on infrastructure, skill development, agriculture, shipbuilding, railways, aviation and greater connectivity, especially people-to-people  contacts. 
  • Special focus will be given to cooperation between the younger generation and cultural sphere. 
  • India and Russia will continue to remain a role model for harmonious and mutually beneficial partnership and strong friendship between States. 
  • This will be to the benefit of our States and international community as a whole.  

Source: The Hindu.