Chennai-Vladivostok sea route to make it near East.

Why in News?

Aiming to put in place a key maritime route connecting India with Northeast Asia and Western Pacific region Delhi is contemplating to put in place a major connectivity initiative — direct shipping link between Chennai and Vladivostok amid China’s ambitious Maritime Silk Route (MSR) connecting Asia with Africa.

Facts (for Prelims):

  • This shipping link would enable to transfer cargo between Chennai and Vladivostok in 24 days in comparison to over 40 days currently taken to transport goods from India to Far East Russia via Europe, according to experts on the subject.
  • Launched Russia Desk for facilitating Russian investments into India as assured by PM Narendra Modi during the annual summit in St Petersburg in June. This is the 3rd such Desk in India after Japan and Korea.
  • Russia Desk would provide complete support service for any kind of Russian investment/ Businessmen/ from legislative to taxation; from personnel to finding right partner, according to informed officials.

About MSR

  • Maritime Silk Road or Maritime Silk Route refer to the maritime section of historic Silk Road that connects China to Southeast Asia, Indonesian archipelago, Indian subcontinent, Arabian peninsula, all the way to Egypt and finally Europe, that flourished between 2nd-century BCE to 15th-century CE.
  • The trade route encompassed numbers of seas and ocean; including South China Sea, Strait of Malacca, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Bengal, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and the Red Sea.
  • The maritime route overlaps with historic Southeast Asian maritime trade, Spice trade, Indian Ocean trade and after 8th century—the Arabian naval trade network. The network also extend eastward to East China Sea and Yellow Sea to connect China with Korean Peninsula and Japanese archipelago.
  • On May 2017, expert from various fields has held a meeting in London to discuss the proposal to nominate “Maritime Silk Route” as a new UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Analysis (for Mains)

Background

With India making concrete moves to expand its presence in Far East Russia to harness natural resources as evident through Foreign Minister  visit to Vladivostok last week plans are in making for a maritime link connecting Chennai with the key Russian port on the Pacific.

Note For Aspirant: to understand why this proposed project will be success, we should know about India Russia Bilateral Relations. So we are going to give analysis on the relationship of these two Nations.

India Russia Relationship

Background

  • Russia has been a longstanding and time-tested partner for India. Development of India-Russia relations has been a key pillar of India’s foreign policy.
  • Since the signing of “Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership” in October 2000, India-Russia ties have acquired a qualitatively new character with enhanced levels of cooperation in almost all areas of the bilateral relationship including political, security, trade and economy, defence, science and technology, and culture.
  • Under the Strategic Partnership, several institutionalized dialogue mechanisms operate at both political and official levels to ensure regular interaction and follow up on cooperation activities.
  • During the visit of the Russian President to India in December 2010, the Strategic Partnership was elevated to the level of a “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.”
  1. Political relation:

Annual Summit

  • The Annual Summit meeting between the Prime Minister of India and the President of the Russian Federation is the highest institutionalized dialogue mechanism in the strategic partnership between India and Russia. So far seventeen Annual Summit meetings have taken place alternatively in India and Russia.
  • The 17th Annual Summit, which resulted in 19 documents related to cooperation in defence, space, information security, foreign policy, trade & investment, hydrocarbons, shipbuilding, railways, and science and technology.

Intergovernmental Commissions

  • There is regular high-level interaction between the two countries. Two Inter- Governmental Commissions – one on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC), co-chaired by the External Affairs Minister (EAM) and the Russian Deputy Prime Minister (DPM), and another on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC- MTC) co-chaired by Russian and Indian Defence Ministers, meet annually.

 

  1. Defence and Security Cooperation:
  • India has longstanding and wide-ranging cooperation with Russia in the field of defence.
  • India-Russia military technical cooperation has evolved from a buyer-seller framework to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced defence technologies and systems.
  • BrahMos Missile System as well as the licensed production in India of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks, are examples of such flagship cooperation.
  • During the 17th Annual Summit, the sides concluded agreements on supply of S-400 air defence systems, construction of frigates under Project 1135.6 and shareholders agreement on the formation of joint venture to manufacture Ka-226T helicopters in India.
  • The two countries also hold exchanges and training exercises between their armed forces annually. The joint military exercise „Indra 2016‟ was held in the Ussuriysk District in Vladivostok from 22 September -02 October 2016.
  • The annual bilateral naval exercise „Indra – Navy took place off the coast of Vishakhapatnam on 14-21 December 2016.

 

  1. Economic Relations:
  • Making the economic partnership a strong pillar of the bilateral partnership like other areas of cooperation between India and Russia is a key priority for both governments.
  • Major items of export from India include pharmaceuticals, tea, coffee and tobacco, machinery and mechanical appliances, organic chemicals, and electrical machinery and equipment.
  • Major items of import from Russia include pearls, precious and semi-precious stones & metals, nuclear power equipment, electrical machinery and equipment, mineral oil & products, iron & steels, and optical, precision and surgical equipment. India and Russia are exploring various ways for enhancing bilateral trade.
  • A few important steps/projects that could provide a major boost to bilateral trade are: Operationalization of the „Green Corridor‟ project between the two countries which has already reached an advanced stage; implementation of the International North South Transport Corridor, and the signing of an FTA between Indian and the Eurasian Economic Union (EaEU).

Trade & Invesment:

  • The India – Russia Forum on Trade and Investment co-chaired by the Commerce and Industry Minister of India and the Russian Minister for Economic Development, and India-Russia CEOs‟ Council are the two primary mechanisms to promote direct bilateral business-to- business contacts between India and Russia.
  • Mechanisms such as India-Russia Business Council (partnership between FICCI of India and CCI of Russia), India-Russia Trade, Investment and Technology Promotion Council (partnership between CII of India and RUIE of Russia), India– Russia Business Dialogue (partnership between CII of India and Russia‟s Business Council for Cooperation with India) and India-Russia Chamber of Commerce (with focus on SMEs) supplement the efforts to build direct business – to – business ties.
  • To promote smoother and greater movement of businessmen, the two countries signed a protocol on 24 December 2015 to simplify visa procedures for businessmen.

Hydrocarbons 

Hydrocarbons is an active area for exploring cooperation between the two countries. In the second and third quarter of 2016, Indian companies invested close to US$ 5.5 billion in Russia‟s Oil and Gas sector.

Nuclear Energy

  • Russia is an important partner for India in the area of peaceful use of nuclear energy. It recognizes India as a country with advanced nuclear technology with an impeccable non-proliferation record.
  • In December 2014, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Russia‟s Rosatom signed the Strategic Vision for strengthening cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy between India and Russia. Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is being built in India with Russian cooperation.

Indian Community

  • Indian Community in the Russian Federation is estimated at about 30,000.
  • Indian organizations in Moscow include the Indian Business Alliance, Overseas Bihar Association, AMMA (All Moscow Malayalee Association), DISHA (Indian-Russian Friendship Society), Textile Business Alliance, Bhartiya Sanskritik Samaj, and Ramakrishna Society Vedanta Centre.

Questions based on topic:

How far will this new proposed Sea route will be a success, will it be able tackle OBOR policy of china. Discuss the role of India Russia relations in the context.

Source: ET and MEA.