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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS–Taking a ‘Far East’ turn to deepen a friendship

The Editorial covers GS paper2 [Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India]

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Introduction

  • Some 48 years ago, when the U.S. and British Navies tried to threaten Indian security during the India-Pakistan war in 1971, the Soviet Union dispatched nuclear-armed flotilla from its Pacific Fleet in support of India.
  • Ever since then, the city of Vladivostok, located in Russia’s Far East, has had a special place in the hearts of Indians.

Why Far East is less developed?

  • The Far East lies in the Asian part of Russia and is less developed than the country’s European areas.
  • India’s plans to invest in Russia’s Far East, thus, paying back the long-held Indian debt to Vladivostok.
  • As part of his ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy, President Putin is inviting foreign countries to invest in this region.

How is it distanced with time?

  • The country’s outreach to Asian nations has especially gained momentum after the 2014 Crimea crisis spoiled its relations with the West.
  • At the same time, the idea of an ‘Indo-Pacific region’, which signals India’s willingness to work with the U.S. mainly to counter China’s assertive maritime rise, has also left Russia concerned.
  • Moscow is apprehensive that the U.S. would exert pressure on India’s foreign policy choices and that it could lose a friendly country and one of the biggest buyers of Russian military hardware.

Why convincing Russia is important?

  • New Delhi, on its part, has maintained that Indo-Pacific is not targeted against any country and stands for inclusiveness and stability.
  • PM Modi made this clear to Mr. Putin during their Sochi informal summit in 2018.
  • Later, at the Shangri-La dialogue, he again emphasised that for India, Indo-Pacific is not a club of limited members and that New Delhi wants to have inclusive engagement with all the relevant stakeholders.
  • This constant engagement has borne fruit and the two countries are now working for a multipolar Indo-Pacific.

What is Russian stance?

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  • On its part, Russia also wants to make sure that China does not become a hegemon in the Eurasian region and is hence deepening cooperation with countries like India, Vietnam and Indonesia.
  • India has also been able to convince Russia that its engagement with the U.S. is not going to come against Russian interests.
  • The Far East has the potential to become an anchor in deepening India-Russia cooperation; more so considering that New Delhi has expanded the scope of its ‘Act East policy’ to also include Moscow.
  • The area has the potential to strengthen India-Russia economic partnership in areas like energy, tourism, agriculture, diamond mining and alternative energy.

What is the way forward?

  • Modi’s visit to Vladivostok (coming Sept) would not be an event in isolation as both nations have been drawing up the plan to cooperate in the region in the last few years.
  • A bilateral business dialogue was included in the business programme of EEF in 2017 and, in 2018, India was one of the 18 countries for which Russia simplified electronic visas to encourage tourism in the Far East.
  • New Delhi will also provide an annual grant of $10,000 to fund the study of Indology at the Centre of Regional and International Studies at Far Eastern Federal University.
  • Also, a MoU has been signed between Amity University and Far Eastern Federal University to intensify cultural and academic exchanges in the areas of research and education.

Conclusion

  • Great power rivalry is back in international politics, making it more unpredictable.
  • It is time when U.S. is interested in ‘deglobalisation’ and China is promoting ‘globalization 2.0 with Chinese characteristics’.
  • It makes sense for India and Russia to increase their areas of cooperation and trade in order to hedge against disruptive forces and make their ties sustainable.

Source :The Hindu.