Thursday, Nov 13, 2003
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India & World
By Amit Baruah
"We are both opposed to unilateralism in international matters," the Prime Minister said, pointing out that the Indo-Russian relationship was unaffected by the tumultuous changes that had taken place in the world.
Visualising a bright future for India-Russia relations, the Prime Minister, however made it clear that the two countries should not rest on "past laurels" since this would lead to "stagnation" and must strengthen the economic basis of their relationship.
Mr. Vajpayee said there were no divisive issues in the bilateral relationship. "Neither India nor Russia perceives a threat from the strength of the other. On the contrary, each sees a benefit for itself in the increased political and economic strength of the other."
"This is best illustrated by Russia's public and unambiguous support to India's permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council," Mr. Vajpayee said. The Indo-Russian "strategic partnership" was a reliable factor in promoting peace, security and stability both in Asia and the world.
"The fundamental factor behind the stability of Indo-Russian ties is the exemplary sensitivity both countries show to each other's concerns, including security concerns."
Deeply appreciative of Russia's consistent and strong support to India's campaign against terrorism, Mr. Vajpayee said this phenomenon posed a threat to the entire civilised world.
"Specifically, it is threatening the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of both India and Russia. President Putin minced no words in his address to the Indian Parliament three years ago, when he said the same individuals, the same terrorist and extremist organisations are involved in terrorist acts from the Philippines to Kosovo, including in Kashmir, Afghanistan and Chechnya," he said.
Mr. Vajpayee pointed out that the two countries had established a sound legal basis and a useful institutional mechanism for cooperation in the "struggle" against international terrorism.
Pointing to the less than desired progress in economic cooperation, the Prime Minister said there was a need to convert the extraordinary goodwill between India and Russia into a thriving, visible, vigorous and mutually beneficial economic relationship. "In this endeavour, we need to show both innovation and a sense of urgency."
Calling for a synergy between scientific endeavours and business enterprises of the two countries, Mr. Vajpayee recalled that India's pharmaceutical industry, recognised the world over today, was established "largely through our bilateral cooperation with Russia several decades ago".
"I see no reason why such an example cannot be emulated in the widest possible range of opportunities that can be identified in regular interaction between the Academy and its partner institutions in India," he said, adding that the India-made PARAM supercomputer was being used at the Academy's Institute for Computer-Aided Design.
Mr. Vajpayee said the Integrated Long Term Programme (ILTP) in science and technology was one of the most elaborate programmes in the world over 2,500 scientific exchanges had taken place during its 15-year existence.
"Keeping with the challenges of modern times, our scientific cooperation now extends to frontier areas of scientific research including bio-technology, informatics, nano technology, environmental protection, drugs and development of new materials. This is in addition to the traditional areas of cooperation in space, atomic energy and defence technologies," he said.
It was a matter of pride that more than 1,400 Russian scholars and students were studying Hindi in Russia, he said. "Perhaps in no other foreign language has so much of great Indian literature, both ancient and modern, been translated as in Russian."
"One thing is certain. The tree of our friendship does not have its roots in the thin top soil of politics and ideology. For it has continued to grow in spite of the political upheavals and structural changes in our two countries."
Leo Tolstoy had an immense influence on Mahatma Gandhi in his early years in South Africa, Rabindranath Tagore was widely revered in Russia, Mr. Vajpayee said, adding a long list of Russians who had excelled in Indian studies.
"Nikolai Roerich, one of the greatest painters in the 20th century, not only travelled to India, but also made the Himalayas his home. His older son and fellow-explorer George Roerich has left behind scholarly work on Tibetan Buddhism. Next year marks the birth centenary of his younger son, Svetoslav Roerich, the great artist who lived in Bangalore.
"We are taking steps to restore his beautiful estate and turn it into a befitting cultural park. We are planning to establish an International Roerich Art School in India," he said.
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