India and the World : The Russian connections!

India and the World – The Russian connections!

              Baskaran Krishnamurthy

“It has been a source of great satisfaction to us to see the development of close understanding and cooperation between our two countries on many vital international questions. At the United Nations and other international forums, our delegations have cooperated fruitfully in the pursuit of common objectives. Your support on some vital issues concerning India has been deeply appreciated by our Government and people and has forged unbreakable bonds of friendship between us.” (Lal Bahadur Shastri in reply to the toast by the Soviet Prime Minister at the State banquet at the Kremlin, Moscow on May 12, 1965.)

India is the land of great thinkers. Right from Valmiki, Vyasa, Kalidas upto Rabindranath Tagore, Mahakavi Bharathi and Dr Radhakrishnan, this nation has produced a number of poets and philosophers who have enlightened the Mankind with their thought provoking ideas and ideals.

Makahkavi Subramanya Bharathi from Tamilnadu is one among the ‘all time greats’ of India. The masterly lines of Bharathi remain a source of inspiration to millions of Tamils all over the world.

Mahakavi Bharathi, the National Poet as he is widely known, strongly believed in the Indian nationalism, and was a fiery freedom fighter and wrote a number of poems urging the people to rise up to join hands with the Nationalists in their protests against the British. At the same time, Bharathi advocated Universal brotherhood and proclaimed that all human beings of the world belong to one single unit called ‘Manuda Jaathi’ (the Human race).

Bharathi followed the international happenings very close and very scrupulously recorded his views on these events in his poems in Tamil. This was something never attempted by any of his predecessors who spent all their time in writing poems on ‘Kaadhal’ (romance) and exaggerated tales of ‘useless’ courage and senseless bravery of the erstwhile Kings and Sultans.

In one of his poems, Bharathi praised and welcomed the Russian Revolution that took place in early 20th century. He calls this development in Russia as ‘the revolution of the Era’ (‘Yuga Puratchi’) This was at a time when the Indian leaders and thinkers were training their guns against the British. Bharathi spared his noble, precious thought for what was happening in Russia and thought it proper to ‘inform’ the Tamils of this rare uprising of the people against the oppressive rule.

Yes. Bharathi’s writing on Russia does have an impact even today. It leaves a healthy, positive outlook towards Russia among the Tamils. Thanks to Bharathi, the Tamils have a soft corner for Russia.  They strongly believe that Russia can do no harm to India and they are right too. Russia has always been a trustworthy, ever reliable friend to India all along. This is the highlight of Indo- Russian relations.

The USSR, during the period of ‘cold war’ maintained a strong, strategic military relationship with India apart from retaining stronger economic, diplomatic relations. In any international relations, ‘People – to – people’ understanding is the key to success and this has been very strong among the peoples of both countries. The feel of insecurity or a sense of hostility never exists in either country and of all the bi-lateral ties, Indo– Russian relations is the most natural and so is the most stable one.

During the cold war USSR and India had strong strategic military economic diplomatic relationship. When the USSR disintegrated and ‘Russia’ was ‘born’, India enjoyed the same level of support from it too and the legacy of brotherly relations continued without a hitch.

In the international arena, Russia never fails to echo the sentiments of India and has been a vocal supporter of Indian cause in every forum. Russian President Nikitha Krushchev openly took pro-India stand on Kashmir. Till date, Russia says that Kashmir is very much an integral part of India and that it is non- negotiable. No other country has been so firm and stable – fully supporting India on the Kashmir issue.

Withstanding all pressures from China, during the Indo China War in 1962, Russia refused to support it and preferred to stay neutral. This move of Russia earned the wrath of China; yet, Russia did not relent.  Such was and has been the commitment of Russia towards India.

Again, during the Bangladesh War in 1971, India and Russia entered into an agreement that literally sealed the conflict and established supremacy of India over Pakistan much before the War had started.

Mrs Indira Gandhi as the Prime Minister further strengthened the ties with Russia by reaching out to the neighbour with visits, talks and deliberations that attached a ‘special’ status to the cherished friendship. This natural bond has immensely benefited India at every international conflict that cropped up during the past 70 years or so. Today, Russia joins the band of developing countries that India be given the status of a permanent member in the Security Council of the United Nations.

On the economic front, Russia and India have registered a massive growth in bilateral trade and the size of imports and exports between the two countries keep expanding year after year.

India Russia Inter Governmental Commission (IRIGC)  is an arrangement truly unique that takes care of all the bilateral issues in a ‘Free Trade Agreement’. Ministerial and Secretarial Meets that take place frequently has been making a steady progress and the trade between the two countries has reached new heights in the post liberalization period.

The Steering Committee (IRIGC) led by Indian External Affairs Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia  had its 23rd meeting in September 2018 ‘to expand our relationship across all sectors and identify new opportunities’. Following this, in October 2018, the Commission was renamed as India – Russia Inter Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation. (IGC-MMTC)

Indian Prime Minister and the Russian President Vladimir Putin met in New Delhi  in October 2018 with a purpose to promote ‘strong proactive military level engagement’. (Hindutan Times – 19 Oct 2018)Being the biggest arms supplier, Russia extends its bilateral ties into focusing on heightened military-to-military engagement. After the annual summit in Oct 2018, the Russian President and the Indian Prime Minister issued a joint statement declaring – ‘military and military-technical cooperation between the two countries is an important pillar of their strategic partnership’. It says all.

Yes. In every sense, Indo – Russian relationship is truly a ‘strategic’ one. The firm and stable support of Russia has given India the extra edge that Pakistan and other hostile neighbours do not enjoy. The mutual trust that exists between Russia and India is in a way the backbone of India’s plans and programmes in the international arena.

India’s campaign for a permanent seat in the Security Council, the occasional aggressive postures against China and Pakistan, a more affirmative action against the militants in Kashmir and a never compromising stand on many vital issues like Palestine Liberation and economic ties with Iran and Iraq among other things stems from the unrelenting, unconditional support of Russia.

The biggest achievement of independent India in matters of international relations undoubtedly has been the cordial and friendly bond with Russia. The leaders of both the countries have seen to it that the friendship never once faces any misunderstanding anywhere on any issue. It is very much understandable. India – Russia relationship is beneficial to both and… it is the most benevolent one for the entire world in ensuring international peace and progress.

Author – Baskaran Krishnamurthy, Writer, Columnist & Income Tax officer 

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