Anatoly V Kargapolov
It is a special privilege for me to greet our Indian friends on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries.
Over the past seven decades, we have travelled a great path replete with impressive achievements. Certainly, our camaraderie had started long before the official signing of respective bilateral documents. Throughout centuries, Russia and India have been gravitating towards each other, while building up trade, cultural and people-to-people ties. An outstanding Russian artist and philosopher Nicholas Roerich, who had made India his second home, put it very eloquently: “India’s heart is reaching for the infinite Russia. The great Indian magnet is attracting Russian hearts.” The two nations had always taken a keen interest in each other. The correspondence between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore shows their admiration for each other’s philosophy of life. Rabindranath Tagore, who visited Russia in 1930, recorded his impressions in his letters and writings.
The decision to establish diplomatic relations came as a thoroughly considered and reasoned step. It is quite telling and symbolic that this milestone event had taken place four months before India gained its independence, against a background of the dramatic changes in international environment catalysed by the victory over Hitlerite fascism in World War II, which brought about the downfall of the global colonial system.
Our path jointly traversed over 70 years has seen many landmarks —from the steel plants in Bhilai and Bokaro to the most powerful NPP Kudankulam, from the first Indian satellite “Aryabhata” sent into orbit by a Soviet launch vehicle, to the space flight by Rakesh Sharma, from first MiG fighters assembled at Indian plants to the world best BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles jointly developed by our specialists. This list features dozens of successful joint projects in various spheres. We have every right to be proud of the contribution that our cooperation made towards the build-up of the industrial base of contemporary India. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru metaphorically called such core projects in key industries as “new temples” of the Republic. They provide graphic testimony to the fact that even decades ago, Russian-Indian ties were in line with the priorities of the present day, with the goals and targets of the “Make in India” programme announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is of crucial importance that resting on the decisions approved by our leaders including those taken at the Russian-Indian summit in Goa last October, our cooperation keeps acquiring new substance defined by equal interaction in transfer of advance knowledge and technologies, in development, promotion and manufacture of various goods.
We highly value the fact that neither fundamental shifts in international arena, not domestic social and political changes have managed to blur our common heritage — Russian-Indian friendship and profound trust. National consensus established in both countries has been consistently feeding the strong and fruit-bearing tree of our relations, which over the years has been growing new branches. That is precisely the reason why Russian-Indian ties have at present evolved to the level of special and privileged strategic partnership.
It is with the feeling of gratitude that we remember today those who made stronger friendship and cooperation between our countries a part of their professional career and personal lives. I speak about a large and brilliant galaxy of politicians, public figures and activists, entrepreneurs and industrialists, academicians, artists, and, of course, diplomats — in short, all those who have contributed to our common cause and apply their energies to this field. Our joint efforts have added the unforgettable pages to the 70 year-long history of bilateral relations, from the 1971 Soviet-Indian Treaty on Peace, Friendship and Cooperation to the Delhi Declaration on Strategic Partnership, signed at the turn of the XXI century by President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee.
Unfortunately, this anniversary year saw a heavy and irreparable loss for the Russian diplomacy in its Indian domain, as our Ambassador Alexander Kadakin departed this life. He devoted nearly 30 years of his life to service in India, and was not a mere participant but stood immediately behind many feats and undertakings, while giving all his energy, knowledge, and unique experience to the cause of tackling urgent tasks of stronger multi-faceted interaction between our countries. We believe that implementation of all his ideas and dreams would be the best tribute to the memory of this virtuoso diplomat.
Similar to the earlier stages, deeper relationship with India constitutes a priority of Russian foreign policy today. It is our understanding that friendly India is increasingly emerging as a locomotive of global economic growth, pursues worldwide interests, and carries out constructive, consistent and responsible foreign policy. Given these and other factors, Russia invariably supports India’s aspirations to obtain a permanent member seat in the reformed UN Security Council, to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, to enhance, along with other economically strong developing countries, its place in international trade and emerging financial and economic architecture.
We attach special importance to enhancing our cooperation with Indian friends on such burning issues, as tackling new challenges and threats, comprehensive countering to international terrorism. Our country highly appreciated Indian contribution in terms of fostering the RIC and BRICS formats. We expect that India’s upcoming accession to the SCO as a full-fledged member will be conducive to stronger international stand of this organisation, fuller use of its potential and broader regional agenda infused with new areas of partnership.
In our bilateral relations, Russia is committed to enhancing trade and economic components of cooperation with India, and to achieving the set goals pertaining to substantial augmentation of mutual trade and investments.
This said, let me stress that given our coinciding aspirations and priorities on the international stage, accumulated experience of bilateral special and privileged strategic partnership, as well as certain stepping stones laid for the future, India remains for us not only an important global partner but also a close friend. I am convinced that Russian-Indian relations will continue to serve as a defining factor of stronger international peace, security, and sustainable development for the benefit of our common interests.
The writer is Charge d’affairs, Russian Embassy in India