UPSC MAINS 2019 : Taking a ‘Far East’ turn to deepen a friendship

Taking a ‘Far East’ turn to deepen a friendship

Topic : Taking a ‘Far East’ turn to deepen a friendship

Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2: International Affairs

 

Context:

Taking a ‘Far East’ turn to deepen a friendship

During Modi’s visit to Vladivostok, India should signal more willingness to invest in a less-developed part of Russia. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the city as the guest of honour at Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in September, he would be announcing India’s plans to invest in Russia’s Far East, thus, paying back the long-held Indian debt to Vladivostok.

 

Background:

  • 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.

 

About Far East:

  • The Far East lies in the Asian part of Russia and is less developed than the country’s European areas.
  • As part of his ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy, President Vladimir Putin is inviting foreign countries to invest in this region.
  • The country’s outreach to Asian nations has especially gained momentum after the 2014 Crimea crisis spoiled its relations with the West.

 

Why Russia is concerned?

  • 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, 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.

 

India’s stance for a multipolar Indo-Pacific

  • New Delhi, on its part, has maintained that Indo-Pacific is not targeted against any country and stands for inclusiveness and stability.
  • Indo-Pacific is not a club of limited members and that New Delhi wants to have inclusive engagement with all the relevant stakeholders.
  • India has also been able to convince Russia that its engagement with the U.S. is not going to come against Russian interests.

 

Far East can be a game changer for India

  • 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.
  • At least 17 countries have already invested in the Far East which, with its investment-friendly approach.
  • Vast reserves of natural resources, has the potential to strengthen India-Russia economic partnership in areas like energy, tourism, agriculture, diamond mining and alternative energy.
  • A lack of manpower is one of the main problems faced by the Far East and Indian professionals like doctors, engineers and teachers can help in the region’s development.
  • Presence of Indian manpower will also help in balancing Russian concerns over Chinese migration into the region.
  • India, one of the largest importers of timber, can find ample resources in the region
  • Japan and South Korea have also been investing and New Delhi may explore areas of joint collaboration.

 

India-Russia Co-operation:

  • New Delhi and Moscow 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.
  • Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between Amity University and Far Eastern Federal University to intensify cultural and academic exchanges in the areas of research and education.
  • State-to-province ties

o   Mr. Modi has also given due importance to ‘paradiplomacy’ where Indian States are being encouraged to develop relations with foreign countries.

o   States like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana and Goa would be collaborating with Russian Provinces to increase trade and investments.

o   The two countries are also looking at the feasibility of Chennai-Vladivostok sea route.

o   This route would allow India access to Russia’s Far East in 24 days, compared to the 40 days taken by the current route via Suez Canal and Europe.

o   This route would potentially add the required balance to peace and prosperity in South China Sea and could open new vistas for India, like the India-Russia-Vietnam trilateral cooperation.

 

Way forward:

  • Great power rivalry is back in international politics, making it more unpredictable.
  • In times when U.S. President Trump is interested in ‘deglobalisation’ and China is promoting ‘globalisation 2.0  .
  • 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.

 

Sample Question

Deepening friendship with’ Far East’can hedge India and Russia against disruptive forces and make their ties sustainable.Elucidate.

 


 

Taking a ‘Far East’ turn to deepen a friendship infographic