KADAKIN’S INDIAN LEGACY

Monday, 13 February 2017 08:09

The Russian envoy loved his karmabhoomi

In a fitting tribute to its longest-serving and most successful diplomat, Alexander M Kadakin, the Russian Government has dedicated an important room in its New Delhi Embassy premises to house a Memorial Museum in memory of the man who died of a cardiac arrest while serving his country. It is rare for a Government to set up a memorial for its diplomat, that too on foreign soil. But Kadakin was no ordinary diplomat and India was never just another foreign posting for him. For several years, this place had been his karmabhoomi, where he relentlessly worked to strengthen the India-Russia relationship. Russia undoubtedly has made a strong contribution in helping India reach great heights in self-reliance and as a military power. It is the Russian Sukhois, missiles and weapon systems that dominate the Republic Day parades. India and Russia also celebrate 70 years of their diplomatic relationship this year. Kadakin's contribution has been immense, for he provided India-Russia relations a solid foundation that can only be strengthened in the coming years.

Possibly Russia is aware of the vacuum that Kadakin's departure has left, which is why Kremlin has not made any announcement for his replacement in a hurry. Kadakin has to be replaced with someone with the same zeal for diplomacy, love for India and, above all, one who can carry forward the good work done by the departed Ambassador in building the relationship in a fast-changing geopolitical environment. Kadakin was totally committed to taking the India-Russia relationship ahead. He often fought for India's interest with his Government's decision-makers. In India, he engaged deeply with all segments of society to keep Russia alive in the Indian mind. The Ambassador had equally strong relations with leaders of all political parties and was among the most respected diplomats who did not have to wait for long to get appointments with the top leaderships. For him, ties between the two nations, and not mere personalities, mattered. Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally condoled his death. This reflects Kadakin's importance in the India-Russia bilateral. Indeed, Russia too acknowledged his important contribution and he was awarded the Order of Friendship in 2016 and the Order of Honour in 2009 for his extraordinary role as a diplomat.

Russia today supplies cutting-edge technology to India in civil nuclear and defence, as India develops its military capabilities. The Indian Army regularly trains with Russian soldiers in counter-terrorism and security challenges. In fact, during their last drill in September 2016, Indian soldiers used Russia's Orlan-10 drone for training to detect simulated illegal armed groups from infiltrating. The foundation for a solid India-Russia relationship has been laid, thanks to Kadakin. All that his successor has to do is to continue building on it, and perhaps develop a liking for Hindi films — something that Kadakin had.

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