Opening Asia for Russia

18.12.2017 74 просмотров

– Greater Asia TV is pleased to welcome Indian Ambassador HE Pankaj Saran to the studio. International relations between Russia and India began in 1947, when India gained independence from Great Britain. Thus, India celebrates at least 2 dates: the seventieth anniversary of independence, as well as the seventieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with many countries, including Russia. Vladimir Putin said that the Indian direction in the international policy of our country should have a special priority. Mr. Ambassador, how do you assess the prospects for the development of bilateral relations between our countries?

– Firstly, let me thank you for your kind invitation to speak on your channel. Indeed, this is a historic moment for India: 70 years ago, in 1947, colonial rule ended and the Indian people gained true independence. This means a lot to us.

This is a special milestone for me and as Ambassador to Russia as we celebrate 70 years of establishing diplomatic relations. It is interesting that the decision to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union was made on April 13, 1947, that is, even before India itself gained independence!

Over these 70 years, we have made great progress. We have consistently gone through different stages in the development of the life of our peoples and at the same time have become the most important countries in the world. Now in many areas we are very actively cooperating at the regional and international levels. So we can say that there is a special priority strategic partnership between Russia and India.

Meanwhile, there is a tradition of annual summits between the leaders of India and Russia. Since 2000, when we announced our strategic partnership, we have already held 17 such events. Today I am pleased to announce that our Prime Minister is coming to St. Petersburg, to the St. Petersburg Forum, as an honored guest. And since India is a partner country of Russia, the Indian people, as well as the Indian government, are looking forward to this historic visit.

St. and President Vladimir Putin. I must say that India will be represented at the summit by both members of the official delegation and the business community, as well as figures of the Indian & nbsp; culture. All in all, we are going to properly celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of Indian-Russian diplomatic relations.

In summing up my message, I can say that today our relations with Russia are free from any problems and worrisome factors; they are based on mutual trust and have great potential. As far as the people and government of India are concerned, I want to note that we deeply appreciate our & nbsp; partnership and are ready to strengthen it by moving it to a fundamentally higher level.

Pankaj Saran interview

Nikolai Yakovlev (Head of the TASS Press Centre), Pankaj Saran (Ambassador of India to Russia). Photo: "Greater Asia"

– As you know, Russia and India are allies in ensuring security in the world. Our countries have launched several successful joint defense projects: the production of the BrahMos supersonic missile, as well as the development of a fifth-generation fighter. How do you see military-technical cooperation between our countries? Which part of it is of greatest interest to India?

– You are right, historically the military-technical area of our cooperation is of particular importance - it has been going on for many decades. We started it at a time when Russia - then still the Soviet Union - agreed to take part in the development of the Indian military-technical complex.

I think that we are talking about cooperation in the most difficult area. It can be successful only in conditions of absolute mutual trust, since this aspect is related to ensuring the security of both countries.

In this regard, I must note that we have begun work on various platforms. Today, about 70% of Indian weapons and military equipment are Soviet and Russian-made equipment. This  a huge percentage!

Now we provide its modernization and maintenance, and also, more and more, we produce our equipment on the basis of local Indian enterprises. 

Answering your question about the rocket « BrahMos", I will say that by itself it  is a very important example of cooperation not only in production, but also in the exchange of technologies. India and Russia have created a very competitive and technologically reliable product that serves both our countries very well.

Of course, there are other projects related to the air force, ground forces, navy. This concerns the production of tanks, military fighters, transport aircraft, as well as joint work with Russia in many other military-industrial sectors.

The most recent major naval project carried out jointly with Russia is the transfer of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov”, which we called “Vikramaditya”. Now he is part of the Indian Navy. And this is not the only example.

We work in all directions. In addition to the fleet, I cannot but mention the air and ground forces. We are upgrading them. It seems that the next stage of our cooperation should include an even greater share of joint, joint production and technology exchange in order for our partnership to move to a qualitatively new level. 

Cooperation on the BrahMos missile production project can be considered as an example of the multifactorial development of future technologies in various scientific fields. In 2015 we also came to an agreement on the joint production of Ka-226 helicopters. And the necessary capacities were opened in India just a few weeks ago. 

And if we, cooperating with Russia, move even more production facilities to our homeland and exchange more technologies, then  we can look to the future with great optimism. 

Pankaj Saran interview
Nikolai Yakovlev (Head of the TASS Press Centre), Pankaj Saran (Ambassador of India to Russia). Photo: "Greater Asia"

– What are India's plans for developing relations with the BRICS countries?

– If remember, the very origin of the BRICS is because we wanted to bring together the 5 largest economies in the world. The purpose of the creation of this organization was to organize a platform for debate. First of all, we wanted to discuss how our countries can give the global economy the necessary impetus for development. Let me remind you that those times were a difficult moment for the whole world. Probably, it is not necessary to remind that in 2008 the Earth experienced a global economic crisis.

So, the first BRICS summit was held in Yekaterinburg, in 2009. And over the past 8 years, the BRICS group of countries has experienced a certain development. We started as an economic organization.  And we still are by definition. But apart from purely economic issues, we also discuss regional and political issues. Currently, the rules of interaction allow us to discuss a variety of topics: & nbsp; education, youth exchange, cultural cooperation...

I consider the idea of organizing BRICS to be very valuable. For example, one concrete result has been the creation of the New Development Bank, headquartered in Shanghai. But all countries have contributed to it, including, of course, Russia and India. This New Development Bank was created to finance various projects in the BRICS countries. I consider the development of so-called “green” projects to be one of the most successful forms of cooperation. We are talking about production that does not harm the environment. This is a good case study.

– The energy sector plays an important role in Russian-Indian trade and economic cooperation. The largest long-term project is Kudankulam, the most powerful nuclear power plant built by Russia in India. The contractor was the Russian Rosatom together with the Indian Atomic Energy Corporation. What does this project mean for India?

– It is very important for us! For India, nuclear cooperation with foreign powers is part of a program to ensure its energy security. If we are to face the challenge of climate change and global warming, then India must diversify its energy sources away from traditional coal fuels and hydrocarbons and towards more modern, renewable sources, be it water, solar or wind.

With regard to nuclear energy, we have a fairly successful program of peaceful atom. Today, India has 22 nuclear reactors. We produce about 7,000 MW of nuclear energy. This is very little - only 2% of world production...

But in this regard, cooperation with Russia is the most important, in comparison with any other major world power. Now this is the only specific profile example of international cooperation in India. And  he is connected precisely with Russia and Rosatom!

Moreover, our countries have agreed that we will not stop at Kudankulam. We will try to move on to further production of nuclear energy with the help of Russia and Russian technology. And at the same time, we will increase the proportion of Indian participation in ensuring the operation of Indian nuclear power plants. We have a well-defined plan for our further cooperation.

Pankaj Saran interview
Pankaj Saran (Ambassador of India to Russia). Photo: "Greater Asia"

– Let's talk about other traditions of our cooperation! Once upon a time, the Soviet people watched Indian films with great pleasure, drank tea “with an elephant” (this brand was famous throughout the USSR), read your fairy tales ... What is interesting in India now for Russian people?
< br> - I think Indian Bollywood is still a great joy for the audience, as it always has been. Compared with the sixties and seventies of the last century, our cinema has undergone significant changes. We have developed new technologies and other genres; cinema has become more diverse.

But, in essence, the task of films  Bollywood production is still the same as before - to deliver pleasant emotions to the viewer! There are no other goals, since our cinema does not carry political or social overtones. Bollywood is just an entertainment industry in the age of high technology. When I traveled around Russia, many people told me that they would like to continue watching Indian films. And I would like to assure you that Indian cinema remains a very important part of our national culture.

– But what about the Indians themselves? Are they interested in Russian cinema? Can you tell us about your favorite Russian films?

– Of course! In India, Russian cinema is associated with the classics: "War and Peace", "The Cranes Are Flying", "Nine Days of One Year", "Russian Ark"... These are great films that many Indians are familiar with. But more can be done here: I think that Russian films in India lack advertising. We must do this and I will be the first to advocate for more of your films to be shown in India. Because Indians love cinema. And should be able to watch the best films in the world.

– What are the prospects for introducing a five-year multiple entry visa to travel to India?

– I am very I'm waiting for this. Over the past two years, we have greatly softened and simplified our visa regime for Russian citizens. And the result is already evident: the number of visas that we issue to Russian tourists or business people, or those who come to us for treatment, has seriously increased, and we are very pleased with this.

For example, we have introduced a system of electronic tourist visas. Today, a Russian who wants to go to India no longer needs to go to the embassy. He can apply online for a visa, get it electronically, print it out, buy a ticket and fly to India without leaving his home or office.
Also, a couple of months ago, we started accepting applications for five-year visas for Russian citizens. And we are talking about any trips - business or tourism.

Now my task is to understand whether we can count on the same visa conditions for Indian citizens, tourists and businessmen who come to Russia in return. I know that over the past 2 years the number of Indian tourists in Russia has continued to increase steadily.

India has a large and growing middle class these days. These people have money and desire to go abroad. And it would be good if more Indian businessmen and tourists traveled to Russia. For our part, we have already taken steps to make the visa system much simpler, friendlier and more convenient.

Pankaj Saran, interview
Nikolai Yakovlev (head of the TASS press center), Pankaj Saran (Ambassador of India to Russia). Photo: "Greater Asia"

– May Your Excellency, recommend to Russian people special regions or states in India? What's the ambassador's top 5 list?

– I don't mean to be biased, but of course I'll start with Goa. The peninsula has become a real discovery for the Russians. Now this is the most popular destination for your tourists. It needs no introduction.

There are other places in India that could be attractive to travelers from Russia. I would advise them to go to a state like Kerala where they can try natural remedies, Ayurveda. This is a very green region. There are also northern states, such as Rajasthan, a desert state. The beauty of Rajasthan is that in it you can look at how they lived in the old days, back in the days of the Maharajas. In fact  you are traveling through time. I would also recommend the Himalayas - after all, these are the highest mountains in the world! There are many potentially very interesting places for tourists in the north. You can go to the states where  many forests. There is a developed tourism business, which makes it easy to see wildlife. I mean,  e.g. Madhya Pradesh. But the important sights of India are Mumbai and Delhi. Delhi is a city with a rich history! It was the capital during the prosperity of India, during the Mughal era and before it. I would advise to look at the Taj Mahal in Agra. All of these are places of worship. For example, the caves of Ajanta and Ellora, the temples of Khajuraho... I can list for a long time, as there are really a lot of interesting places. 

In addition, there are many other things in India that are of interest to Russians: for example, yoga. It is very popular as a way of life, as a form of exercise, as a form of relaxation. It was India that gave it to the world. As you know, a few years ago, the UN declared the twenty-first of June as the International Day of Yoga. This is the summer solstice; you have white nights in St. Petersburg at this time. And the twenty-first of June is the longest day of the year, which is why it was chosen as International Yoga Day.

Pankaj Saran, interview
From left to right: Sergei Savushkin (Chief Editor of the TV channel " Big Asia"), Alexander Lebedev (General Director Big Asia TV channel), Nikolay Yakovlev (head of the TASS press center), Pankaj Saran (Ambassador of India to Russia) , Nikolay Lukyantsev (General Director of GeoTelecommunications LLC).

– Do you practice yoga yourself?

–  ;Yes. I started ten years ago, and it has seriously changed my life, because yoga gives so much. For example, it relaxes the mind if you are experiencing stress. After all, this is not just a matter of physical but also mental health.

However, there are other interesting aspects of Indian culture and history that are already 5 thousand years old. I have met many Russians seeking to India for spiritual revelation, an attempt to find inner happiness. And such tourism is also very attractive to foreigners in India. In our country there are regions that are very different from each other, with a dissimilar climate. Our diverse country is a real find for travelers. We have many languages, religions and cultures. But the most important thing is that Russians are very much loved in India. If you come to us and say that you are Russian, you will immediately be accepted and loved.

Our natural feature is love for Russia, because people consider Russia as a friend and treat it very kindly. We keep this tradition.

– Mr. Ambassador, can I offer you to become a special representative of our channel "Greater Asia"? What program would you like to lead?

– This offer is a great honor for me! But I'll ask you to give me some time to think it over. I've never done this kind of work in my life, so I need to think it over. But thanks a lot for the offer.



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