In the past year, you’ve seen the who’s who of global politics make a bee line to New Delhi. Despite scams, corruption, failure of governance, and all such less desirable faces to India, David Cameron, Barack Obama, Nicholas Sarkozy, Wen Jiabao, and now President Medvedev seem keen to cosy up to a country, which when spoken of is often referred to as a slow elephant in comparison to the Dragon that’s come to symbolise China.
With the global economy facing severe challenges, its understandable that they seek to forge stronger partnerships with a nation that’s averaging GDP growth of 8.5% and with an increasingly young & affluent population. But is this the only reason?
The movement towards India is also, if not more so, about geo-politics. It’s about regional balance.
It was said that Cameron’s love for India is really about countering the emphasis the Blair gave to developing relations with China. America similarly after decades of a cool relationship with India warmed up by paving the way for the game-changing civil nuclear agreement, and the French have always been good friends with India, just as the Russians have.
In fact, it comes as no surprise that Medvedev is in India. There are some parallels and reasons to work together. Both have a massive need for infrastructure, which friends suggest, India is more likely to get done because it’s more open to foreign expertise and has lots of cheap labour. The significant differences are that India’s democracy is more developed and Russia has a serious demographic problem. It has some natural resources that India needs, but I’d say that Russia is definitely in a weaker economic position long term. That’s why Medvedev needs to work with India.
On a strategic plane, the India- Russia relationship goes back decades, for it was the Russians who were early to recognise India’s potential, both on the economic, and also on the geopolitical matrix as a counter to China, decades ago. Medvedev will be pushing an open door when in New Delhi.
You don’t need to be a genius to work out that India & China are key to the prosperity of nations like ours, but what’s critical is that the dance between the slow elephant and the fierce dragon doesn’t lead to an all out x-factor type contest where instead of houses being divided as to who’s the more meritorious, countries have to decide who to back for the big time. That’s why, in my opinion, Premier Wen’s sojourn to India was probably the most important visit of the lot.
It matters that China and India work towards resolution on key issues. It matters to the prosperity of future generations, in Russia, and the world over.