OLD FRIEND

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 03 Aug 2017 13:54:51

THE statement by Mr. Sergei Chemezov, the Chief Executive Officer of the Rostec State Corporation of Russia, that Russia’s friendship with India would continue no matter the other countries India has ties, has its own importance in the international arena of the present day. This assertion can come from only an old friend, that Russia is for India, who has stuck on through thick and thin. The friendship between India and Russia is historic in every sense of the term, going way back in time when India was still under the British clutches. And it has continued to flourish after Independence as well as the two countries kept coming closer in mutual interests and cultural bondings, way beyond global politics, way beyond diplomatic developments. Mr. Chemezov’s assertion highlights all that. 

When India’s freedom struggle was at its peak and several leaders of the movement were trying to evolve a model of new India as part of their vision, Russian experiments of socialistic development attracted them. They included those ideas in their vision and mission concepts. Post-Independence, New Delhi and Moscow grew closer, adding newer facets to friendship. No matter their respective international goals, both the countries continued to forge a stronger bond all along.


Russia, then of course the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), formed one pole in international realpolitik. The world felt that India would be part of the Soviet Bloc.

That did not happen, and Indian pursued the idea of non-alignment, becoming one of the creators of the concept. Despite India’s refusal to join its Bloc, the Russians continued harbour an ever-deepening friendship with India. Whenever India ran into some difficulty, as in the case of Chinese aggression in 1962, or during the Bangladesh war, Russia -- or the USSR -- stood by India in international fora.


This was both, a tribute to the friendship of the two nations, and also to the astuteness with which the India’s leadership across decades assured the Russians of continued Indian goodwill. In the past quarter of a century, the world saw many major development, including the collapse of the USSR. In changing times, India also shifted its diplomatic focus and built stronger ties with other nations. despite all these, the Russians have continued to take India as an old friend. Mr. Chemezov has stressed all that.


Of course, there have been some bad patches in this reign of friendship. The Russians have not conducted themselves in total honesty while dealing with the Indians. Their dealing with India as regards sale of aircraft carrier was nothing but exploitation of Indian helplessness. The Indian Armed Forces, too, have had a major grievance about erratic supply of critical spares of defence merchandise from Russia. Even though Russia often gave India advanced technology in defence and other sectors, it did not acquit itself well all the times while handling subsequent issues related to technology management.


No matter all these difficulties, the India-Russia friendship has continued almost as strongly as ever. Both sides have learned to make adjustments and accommodate each other. Now also, as India spreads its diplomatic wings across the world, Russia continues to be India’s good-old-friend.

True, Russia may not be as strong as it used to be once upon a time. It is also true that it is no longer considered the real superpower who can stand up to the United States of America. But is equally true that over the past some time, it is building back its prowess with careful planning and assertive diplomacy, as could be seen from the manner in which it has handled the challenge of Islamic terrorism. In times to come, there is little doubt that India and Russia will have many common ports of call. Mr. Sergei Chemezov has indicated all that in his statement, though not in so many words.