UPSC PRELIMS 2020: India-Russia Bilateral ties & Space Cooperation

India-Russia Bilateral ties & Space Cooperation

Topic: India-Russia Bilateral ties & Space Cooperation

 

Topic in Syllabus: International Affairs

India-Russia Bilateral ties & Space Cooperation

Context:

 India and Russia have signed 15 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and other agreements during PM Modi’s visit to Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) summit.

 

What is the EEF?

According to its website, the EEF was established by a decree of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, in 2015, with the aim of supporting the economic development of Russia’s Far East, and to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

The ongoing EEF Summit at the Far Eastern Federal University is the fifth in its history.

 

India-Russia relations:

Bilateral trades:

  • India’s economic ties with Russia have been struggling with bilateral trade hovering around $10 billion mark. Energy is one area which has the potential to provide stimulus to their ties.
  • On 20th India—Russia Annual Summit India,
  • Russia agree to step up trade to $30 bn by 2025.
  • They also agreed to speed up preparations for signing of the India-Russia Intergovernmental Agreement on Promotion and Mutual Protection of Investments.
  • It was also agreed to intensify work for eliminating trade barriers. Which would be facilitated by the proposed Trading Agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Republic of India

 

Defence:

  • India has contracted defence deals worth about $14.5 billion from Russia.
  • New Delhi’s decision to go ahead with the purchase of S-400 missile defence system, worth over $5 billion, despite the threat of US sanctions, underscores the importance India continues to attach to its defence engagement with Russia.

 

Energy sector:

  • Chief among the 50 agreements signed this week were those on energy exploration and procurement, including a specific MoU on cooperation on LNG supplies to India, and a maritime route from Vladivostok to Chennai which will be used for energy trade as well.
  • The two sides also agreed on a five-year ‘roadmap’ for cooperation on prospecting for hydrocarbons and LNG in the Far East and the Arctic, building on a history of Indian investment in oilfields in the region.
  • The emphasis on energy from this region is as much a bid to benefit from explorations and trade routes in the Arctic that are becoming accessible due to global warming, as it is reflective of India’s desire to diversify its energy sources away from an unstable West Asia
  • The investment in the Far East, which is often neglected given that Russia is seen as a European power in the post-Soviet era, also underlines India’s desire to draw Russia into its strategic forays in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Russia and India are also becoming more ambitious by pursuing projects in third countries such as the Rooppur nuclear power project of Bangladesh.
  • The push to ‘Act Far East’ allows India to demonstrate its commitment to an area of concern for Moscow, thus reassuring its traditional partner that in an increasingly polarised world, India is confident of working with multiple alignments, even if they are at cross purposes with each other.

 

Space:

In 2015, the ISRO and Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS) signed a new MoU on expanding cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

This has opened-up opportunities for collaboration in the following areas of mutual interest:

  • Satellite navigation 
  • Launch vehicle development
  • Critical technologies for human spaceflight programme
  • Remote sensing of EarthSpace science and planetary exploration
  • Use of ground space 
  • Development of space systems and components
  • Exchange of scientists
  • Training and scientific and technical meetings

The two leaders welcomed the signing of an MoU to set up and utilise ground measurement gathering stations in each other’s territories to enhance the navigation satellite systems GLONASS and NavIC respectively.

 

GLONASS:

  • As a result, Russian GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) is providing a key service in Indian transport sector being introduced on New Delhi-Mumbai Highway since January,2019.
  • The vehicles will be equipped with onboard devices based on the GLONASS / IRNSS satellite system, which have been developed specifically for this project.

 

Mission Gaganyaan:

  • The Gaganyaan programme, is an indigenous mission that would take Indian astronauts to space.
  • Gaganyaan is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft that is intended to send 3 astronauts to space for a minimum of seven days by 2022, as part of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme.
  • The spacecraft, which is being developed by the ISRO consists of a service module and a crew module, collectively known as the Orbital Module.
  • It will be for the first time that India will launch its manned mission to space, making the country fourth in line to have sent a human into space.
  • Isro’s GSLV Mk III, the three-stage heavy-lift launch vehicle, will be used to launch Gaganyaan as it has the necessary payload capability.
  • The spacecraft will be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400 km.
  • GSLV Mk III is designed to carry 4-ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). 
  • The Gaganyaan programme is expected to cost under ₹10,000 crore and there will be two unmanned missions prior to the manned mission to validate the technologies.
  • The mission will enable ISRO to achieve higher levels of reliability in launch and satellite technology.
  • The human spaceflight will take 16 minutes to reach the orbit where it will stay for five to seven days.
  • The capsule will rotate around the Earth every 90 minutes, and astronauts will be able to witness the sunrise and sunset.
  • The three astronauts will be able to see India from space every 24 hours, while they conduct experiments on microgravity.
  • For its return, the capsule will take 36 hours, and will land in the Arabian Sea, just off the coast of Gujarat.
  • ISRO has developed some critical technologies like re-entry mission capability, crew escape system, crew module configuration, thermal protection system, deceleration and flotation system, sub-systems of life support system required for Mission Gaganyaan.

 

Recent MOUs during EEF summit:

  • India and Russia have signed 15 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and other agreements to boost co-operation between the two countries during PM Modi’s visit to Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF).
  • Russia will help train Indian space travellers aboard the Gaganyaan as part of the agreements signed.
  • An agreement to operationalise the maritime route between Vladivostok in Russia to Chennai in India has also been reached. The route can help Indian businesses engage in activities in the Russian Far East, a resource rich but sparsely populated region.
  • The two leaders held the delegation-level talks at the India-Russia 20th Annual Summit and discussed ways to bolster cooperation in trade and investment, oil and gas, mining, nuclear energy, defence and security, air and maritime connectivity, transport infrastructure, hi-tech, outer space and people-to-people ties.

 

Conclusion:

  • The challenge in front of India and Russia is that they need to transform a 20th century partnership and make it fit for the 21st century. Global trends are evolving rapidly, and major powers are re-defining their ties with each other to match their contemporary requirements.
  • Apart from this, Russia is planning to partner Delhi for joint collaborations including presence at the prestigious International Space Station (ISS). This includes cooperation in futuristic technologies including new space systems, rocket engines, propellants and propulsion systems, spacecraft and launch vehicle technology. 
  • Cooperation in space has emerged as a key area of cooperation in the high technology sector between India and Russia. India’s rapidly growing capabilities in outer space is being acknowledged and Russia sees India as a key partner for promoting peaceful uses of outer space.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following countries is hosting the fifth meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum?

a) India
b) Bhutan
c) Indonesia
d) Russia

Answer: d)