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Monday, April 20, 2009

India and Russia

"Russian perceptions of India are outdated and stuck in the time warp of mid-20th century India, and there is little understanding of the much richer, self-confident and savvier India of the 21st century. Perhaps Russians feel that India has no alternative to Russia and that India is not giving Russia the attention and importance it deserves."
"The Indian elite's thinking and lifestyle is also oriented towards the West. Culture, language and a democratic polity bring India and the West together. India's links with the West have been strengthened in many other ways -- the rich, well-educated and substantial Indian diaspora settled in Western countries; the rapidly growing linkages of Indian business and industry with Western counterparts and the large-scale movement of visitors and students between India and the West. Similar people-to-people linkages do not exist between Russia and India. The image that most Indians have of Russia is outdated -- Russia is no longer the crushed, dispirited nation in the immediate post-Soviet period, but most Indians have yet to register Russia as a strong, modern and stable country, much less show understanding of its problems. India is also ignorant of, and lacks confidence in, many Russian technological capabilities, since Russia is weak in transferring them on a cost-effective basis to the civilian sector. India's elite seems to have fallen under the spell of new suitors that appear more attractive than a known and trusted old partner. The general public too remains somewhat ignorant about the significance of India's relations with Russia, as Russia does not affect most ordinary Indians lives as does, say, the US or the Persian Gulf region..."
"Officially sponsored cultural extravaganzas like the 'Year of Russia' in India in 2008 and the 'Year of India' in Russia in 2009 cannot be a substitute for spontaneous and natural people-to-people exchanges. India will need to build direct contacts with the entire spectrum of stakeholders and interest groups in the political, economic, military and other spheres not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg but also throughout Russia. Similarly, Russia will have to learn how to deal with new centres of power and influence in India."
(Rajiv Sikri in 'Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India's foreign policy,' p. 161 Sage)

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