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During his visit to India Russian President will have meeting with Dr. Manmohan Singh
During his official visit to India on December 2-5, Vladimir Putin will have his first serious meeting with India's new premier, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and his colleagues in New Delhi and Bangalore. We might witness certain changes in the relations between Russia and India. The Russian leadership realizes that Moscow reached the present level of relations with India during the rule of the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Atal Biharee Vajpayee. These relations are symbolized by Kudankulam project (a $2.6 billion nuclear power station), Sakhalin project ($1.7 billion of Indian investment in the development of oil and gas fields), significant progress in joint hi-tech research, the establishment of the North-South Transport Corridor through Iran and regions adjacent to the Caspian Sea, and, even, Indian investment in the production of popular brands of beer in Russia. After the unfortunate "freeze" in the Russian-Indian relations in the early 1990s, Vajpayee-governed India returned to the ranks of Russia's strategic partners, becoming, probably, one of Moscow's closest friends, both in spirit and political philosophy. However, over this time, there were many people who could not but point out that the current relations between India and Russia had been largely determined by the close ties dating back to the early 1950s established between the Soviet leadership and the Indian National Congress led by the Nehru-Gandhi family. Does this mean that Russia will manage to establish even closer ties with the INC government, which came to power earlier this year, than it enjoyed with the BJP? Officials in New Delhi usually state that both parties have similar approaches to relations with Russia. Moscow is important for India as a proponent of a just world order and multi-polar political system in the world, as a supplier of advanced technologies in the energy and other important industries, as a military ally, as a global power that has particular relations with China and Central Asia, etc. However, we should not forget that at several summits between Mr. Putin and Mr. Vajpayee, both sides complained about the lack of developed economic relations against the backdrop of excellent political and military ties. Moreover, they could not even agree on how much bilateral trade was worth. In 2003, the Indian authorities came up with the figure of $1.5 billion and the Russians $3.3 billion. Neither estimate, Russian experts argue, correspond to the potential figure of $10 billion, which is easily attainable. On the eve of Putin's visit, Russia's deputy prime minister and new co-chairman of Russian-Indian Intergovernmental Commission, Alexander Zhukov, arrived in India and set about solving a variety of minor problems in our relations unrelated to high politics. Judging by his report delivered during a commission session, these problems include financing trade and increasing the presence of the two countries' banks and investment funds on each other's markets. Moreover, Indian businessmen still have not clearly recognized Russia's market economy status. The issue of the post-purchase servicing of Russian-made military and other equipment supplied to India has not been solved, either. Overall, it seems that the time has come to turn global declarations of partnership into small but concrete business solutions at every level, in all offices and agencies, both in Russia and India. The difference between the cabinet of Mr. Vajpayee, the poet, and the cabinet of Mr. Singh, the economist, is that the current government will probably focus on seemingly small and mundane economic tasks related to the development of Indian states and economic sectors lagging behind. And Russia, as an economic partner, can contribute a great deal to this task. Maybe this is a perfect approach for today's Indian-Russian relations - to talk less about high politics and focus on the prose of economic relations between the two countries (Dmitry Kosyrev)
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