Event ReportsPublished on Oct 05, 2009
The third meeting of ORF's Indo-Russian dialogue was held in Moscow on 5 - 6 October 2009. India's Russian partner in this dialogue is the Russkiy Mir Foundation headed by Mr. Vyacheslav Nikonov who is also President of the Unity for Russia Foundation.
ORF's Indo-Russian dialogue concludes

The third meeting of ORF’s Indo-Russian dialogue was held in Moscow on 5 - 6 October 2009. India’s Russian partner in this dialogue is the Russkiy Mir Foundation headed by Mr.Vyacheslav Nikonov who is also President of the Unity for Russia Foundation. The Indian delegation led by Maharajakrishna Rasgotra, President, ORF Centre for International Relations, included Mr. Samir Saran, Senior Fellow and Vice President at ORF, Mr. Wilson John, Director, Neighbourhood Policies, Pakistan and Terrorism Studies at ORF, Mr. Nandan Unnikrishnan, Director, Eurasian Studies at ORF and Mr. Siddharth Varadarajan, Strategic Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

The Russian delegation led by Mr. Nikonov included several reputed Russian Academics and officials, notably Mr Sergei Rogov-Director of The Institute for the USA and Canadian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Mr. Zufar Khusnitdinov-Deputy Director, Second Department of Asia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Sergey Lunev of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Central Asian specialist Mr. Ivan Safranchuk, Dr. Iosif Diskin of the Council on National Strategy and well known economist Mr. Andrey Yakovlev.

The two-day discussion covered, inter alia, Indo-Russian bilateral relations, the world energy scene, the Afghanistan situation and its implications for India and Russia, impact of the global crisis on the economies of the two countries and the prospect of further development of the international role of BRIC (the group comprising Brazil, Russia, India and China).

The two sides drew attention of all concerned to the vast scope for Indo-Russian cooperation in the development of infrastructure, higher education and metallurgy sectors in India in the next 10 to 15 years. They emphasized the need for promoting mutual trade and investments between the two countries and they felt that during the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Moscow later this year, business and industry leaders of the two countries should be brought together in Moscow in a creative joint search for ways and means of expanding trade and economic links between the India and Russia.

Political relationship of the two countries is sound; and in the flux of changing international relationships, Indo-Russian relations have remained of central importance in the two country’s foreign policies.

Energy cooperation between India and Russia has immense potential. This cooperation needs to be understood more broadly and in all its nuances. While on one hand Russia will be the driver by virtue of being the source of hydrocarbons, India too can contribute by investing in the downstream energy value chain including plastics, petrochemicals and refineries-sectors where India has achieved global competitiveness. Russia also has a significant role in facilitating supplies of gas from Iran to India through innovative ‘swap’ arrangements and by negating external pressures.

The discussions highlighted the importance of cooperation in science and in technical areas such as joint R & D projects in nuclear energy, fast breeder technology and in advanced fighter aircraft: India’s need for diversification of its sources of arms imports was noted, but it was also felt that Russia would continue to be a major source of military supplies to India.

The Russian side was interested in knowing how India had successfully managed its economy in the prevailing global crisis, which had adversely affected so many other countries. It was explained that Bank nationalisation by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the 70s and the careful regulating of the banking sector thereafter had greatly helped India ward off the global meltdown worst effects and maintain a growth rate of 6% to 7%. With the Banking system in reasonably good health, a modest stimulus of around $15 billion was considered sufficient to stimulate purchasing power in the countryside and cushioning the export market melt-down..

The meeting expressed serious concern about the situation in Afghanistan and the spread of radicalism and violence in Pakistan. It was felt that the involvement of Afghanistan’s nieghbours, viz. Iran and the bordering Central Asian Republic, as well as India and Russia, in the search for a solution would be of great help. Their political and moral support to the Afghan government and close involvement in Afghanistan’s economic and social development will have a stabilizing effect; and that US and NATO having gone in with military force their premature withdrawal would lead to Al-Qaida-Taliban domination of Afghanistan and Pakistan and rapid spread of Terrorist violence in Central Asia and even in regions beyond.

And for decades, US will suffer the ignominy of retreat in defeat and serious loss of its pre-eminence and prestige in Asia and in the rest of the world..

Two delegations expressed satisfaction at the progress BRIC had made in the course of the last year or two, with meetings at the level of senior officials, ministers culminating in a successful summit earlier this year. It was recalled that the BRIC idea was first mooted by the Russkiy Mir Foundation and was enthusiastically supported by ORF.

Today, BRIC with the vast geographic spread and population of about 2 ½ billion of its member countries represents “people power” as well as “market power”. The coming together of four great civilizations has a significance of its own; and altogether the group reinforces multi-polarity of the emerging international system. The meeting expected BRIC to play an important role in the reform of outdated Bretton Woods institutions.

Every new movement needs some powerful symbols, and the BRIC countries should consider setting up a Bric Bank, issue Bric Bonds and establish a Joint Solar Energy Research Institute at a suitable location in one of the four countries.

Finally, the two delegations agreed that in due course the inclusion of South Africa in BRIC would strengthen the group and should be seriously considered by the four present member countries. The meeting decided that in their next discussion on BRIC- related matters a South African representative will be invited as an observer to begin with.

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