India, Russia discuss ties, military procurement

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a bilateral summit in Goa, India on 15 October 2016 [PPIO]

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov received Foreign Secretary of India Vijay Gokhale in Moscow on Monday to discuss the work of both countries in BRICS as well as other issues to do with their strong strategic ties.

“[The sides] discussed cooperation in the BRICS, problems of the leading multilateral export-control regimes, including New Delhi’s application for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), other issues of arms non-proliferation and control, as well as current issues on the international agenda of mutual interest,” the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the Russian News Agency TASS.

India and Russia have long-standing and historic ties, with Moscow seeing itself as an ally to New Delhi.

The two countries also maintain strong military ties.

In early March, India signed a $3 billion deal with Russia to lease a third nuclear-powered submarine, which would be delivered to the Indian Navy by 2025.

Despite US objections and the threat of sanctions, India says it will go ahead and purchase advanced Russian defense systems.

The US has sought to sway India to purchase alternatives to advanced Russian weaponry.

India and Russia signed a multi-billion dollar defense deal revolving around the sale of five advanced S-400 Triumf surface to air missile systems, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi in October.

he S-400 is believed to be able to engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft and VLO (Very Low Observable) craft.

With a range of 400 kilometers and an altitude of close to 32 kms, S-400 Triumf is designed to shield from air strikes, strategic, cruise, tactical and operating tactical ballistic missiles and medium-range ballistic missiles, as well as neutralize drones.

The S-400 ‘Triumf’ air defence missile systems is equipped with three different types of missiles and an acquisition radar capable of tracking up to 300 targets within the range of nearly 600 kms.

Triumf is a system made of eight launchers and a control station.

India says the purchase, to be delivered within the next three years, will significantly boost its defensive capabilities.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

Iran does brisk business with BRICS

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, in Jomhouri Building, at Saadabad Palace, in Tehran on May 23, 2016 [Image: PMO, India]

 

Despite the threat of further sanctions on Iran, its oil industry is continuing to do brisk trade with a number of countries, including the BRICS.

According to Iranian oil industry sources in Tehran, overall bilateral trade with BRICS countries reached 53.78 million tons.

While this is a decline of just over 8 per cent year on year, its value is up 7.4 per cent due to higher oil prices.

The volume of trade reached a value of just over $29 billion in the year ending March 21, 2018.

In the meantime, India has moved ahead boosting its strategic trade ties to Iran.

In February, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed nine new trade agreements with Iranian President

The agreements include the development of the strategic port of Chabahar in Iran.

India intends to lease two berths at Chabahar for 10 years. The port will be developed through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) which will invest $85.21 million to convert the berths into a container terminal and a multi-purpose cargo terminal.

The port of Chabahar in southeast Iran is pivotal to India’s efforts to open up a route to landlocked Afghanistan where it has developed close security ties and economic interests.

In April, Iran and Russia agreed to work together within the framework of a Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) following three years of discussion and negotiations on free trade.

The agreement, which will require ratification in both countries, will bolster bilateral trade and investment and also open Iranian markets and investors to the other EEU members – Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam.

Iran’s inclusion into the EEU will help it access markets that may have been previously blocked due to US sanctions.

Once ratified, Iran will be expected to establish a free trade zone for EEU trade.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

India, Iran boost strategic ties

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani (left) has told India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the two countries are strategic partners [Image: BRICS2015]

India and Iran have just completed a round of negotiations which saw the two countries boost their economic ties despite Washington’s pressure on Tehran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was in New Delhi this weekend to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sign nine new trade agreements.

The agreements include the development of the strategic port of Chabahar in Iran.

India intends to lease two berths at Chabahar for 10 years. The port will be developed through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) which will invest $85.21 million to convert the berths into a container terminal and a multi-purpose cargo terminal.

The port of Chabahar in southeast Iran is pivotal to India’s efforts to open up a route to landlocked Afghanistan where it has developed close security ties and economic interests.

“We are ready to sign bilateral and trilateral agreements to turn the transit route passing through Chabahar into a strategic pathway serving the reinforcement of regional ties,” Modi said of the deal.

Modi praised the deal saying that it expands New Delhi’s connectivity to reach other markets. India has already exported wheat from Chabahar to Afghanistan

“We will support the construction of the Chabahar-Zahedan rail link so that Chabahar gateway’s potential could be fully utilized,” Modi said.

“We want to expand connectivity, cooperation in the energy sector and the centuries-old bilateral relationship,” he added.

Iran is India’s second largest supplier of crude oil.

Rouhani says that that Iran and India have “very good cooperation” in the two sectors of “transit and energy”.

Tehran has always maintained that New Delhi is “strategic partner and cannot forget the support India extended to Iran during its difficult times”.

“Indian companies are ready to further their investment in the areas of mutual cooperation, including oil and gas,” Modi said.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

Rapid urbanization a challenge for BRICS countries

Major cities in Brazil, China and India are witnessing rapid urbanization [Xinhua]

The Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur will next week host the Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum to discuss the challenges societies as more people move to the cities.

The forum titled, Cities 2030, Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda, will focus on the efforts of major countries, such as China, India, and Brazil to overcome the challenges posed by rapid urbanization.

Some of these challenges include the ever-growing income gaps, smog and pollution, and crumbling infrastructure which can no longer support such population growth.

In 2018, about 50 per cent of the global population is living in cities. But the World Bank says that by 2050, 70 per cent of the global population will be living in cities.

In Delhi, for example, the number of residents living in the capital has grown from 9.7 million in 1990 to 25.7 million in 2015.

In fellow BRICS member, China, cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have seen their populations grow from 6.8 million to 20.4 million, and 7.8 million to 23.7 million, respectively, in the same period.

For Brazil, Sao Paulo has witnessed 14.8 to 21.1 million residents in the 25-year period.

For Africa, the greatest urbanization has happened in Cairo, from 9.9 million in 1990 to 18.8 million in 2015.

The rapidly changing climate and regional conflicts which have lately produced tens of millions of refugees further exacerbate the pressures these cities and others face, the World Bank says.

Read more: BRICS tackles urbanization

The BRICS Post

Modi a counterweight to Trump’s protectionism

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi delivering his keynote speech, at the plenary session of the World Economic Forum, in Davos on January 23, 2018 [PMO, India]

Irony was a guest at the 48th World Economic Forum on Monday when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to the stage to deliver a blistering defense of free trade just as the US announced additional tariffs on Chinese solar panels, washing machines, and aluminum and steel exports.

But Modi deftly navigated the increasing protectionist measures taken by the US since US President Donald Trump won the elections.

“The negative impact of this kind of mindset cannot be considered less dangerous than climate change or terrorism,” Modi told world leaders and delegates in Davos.

Modi has clout. India is a central member of BRICS, a growing and persistent economic power and a destination for global investors.

It’s little surprise that in 2018, Modi became the first Indian prime minister to deliver the keynote speech; he is the first Indian prime minister to attend the Davos forum in 20 years.

It’s also not surprising that the theme of the World Economic Forum this year is “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”.

Modi warned that if the world did not cooperate on free trade, combating terrorism and protecting the environment, there won’t be much of a future to share.

Addressing the multi-faceted fractures which challenge global growth and development, Modi said that there is a divide between the requirements of today and the needs of conservation for future.

“However, the only hope is that we all want to tackle them. We want to see a co-operative, harmonious, sharing and caring world. In fact, this is where the hope lies.”

To this end, Modi said: “India has always seen the domestic and the global as mutually reinforcing and inseparable parts of the same organic arrangement.”

“Forces of protectionism are raising their heads against globalization,” he added. “It feels like the opposite of globalization is happening.”

Modi’s words carry traction. India’s 2018 growth forecast is 7.3 per cent, while the forecast for 2019 is 7.5.

The is welcome news to Modi who had been severely criticized for his demonitization campaign in fall 2016 as a principal reason for the economy lagging.

Counterweight

Analysts see India’s Modi as a counterweight to Trump, who is expected to arrive in Davos at the end of the week now that American legislators have agreed on a bill to reopen the stalled US government.

But Modi’s statements also echo the sentiments of fellow BRICS member China, and not coincidentally.

Last year, Xi Jinping became the first Chinese President to address and participate in the World Economic Forum.

Don’t pursue your own interests at the expense of others, Xi told world leaders in staunch support of multilateralism and globalization in 2017.

The Chinese president emphasized that globalization should not be blamed for the lackluster performance of the global economy.

He said that new models of global growth and comprehensive cooperation could overcome inadequate global economic governance and unequal development.

Xi also stressed that protectionism (and isolationism) were not the answers to the global economic crisis and warned taking such measures was akin to locking oneself in a dark room.

By Firas Al-Atraqchi with inputs from Agencies

Italian PM to meet Modi, Indian execs

Narendra Modi has maintained that he will seek a free-trade pact with the EU [Xinhua]

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni arrived in India on Sunday to begin his two-day state visit in which he hopes to boost bilateral political and economic relations.

Gentiloni will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday in talks that are likely to focus on improving ties that have been strained for over five years after two Italian marines shot and killed two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012.

The two marines were arrested by Indian authorities but subsequently let go after a feud between Delhi and Rome over jurisdiction.

Gentiloni will also meet with President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu as well as hold talks with a number of business leaders in New Delhi.

The Italian prime minister is heading a delegation of 15 prominent businessmen who will explore trade and investment opportunities with their Indian counterparts. Italy is considered the 13th largest investor in India.

In 2016, trade between the two countries reached nearly $9 billion.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

India asks state authorities to protect journalists

The CPJ says that 41 journalists have been killed in India since 1992 [Xinhua]

The Indian Home Ministry on Wednesday issued a directive to state governments asking them to ensure the safety and security of reporters and journalists in the country.

The advisory comes on the heels of the murder of two prominent journalists in the last month alone.

Editor Gauri Lankesh was shot dead by unknown attackers in Bangalore, the Indian press reported on September 5.

On September 21, Shantanu Bhowmik, a reporter for a local news channel, was beaten to death in Tripura state in the country’s northeast. He was covering a protest.

The directive from New Delhi states:

“Fourth Estate is an important institution of the democracy. It ensures that citizens are able to express their opinions freely without any fear and coercion as provided under the Constitution of India. It is the duty of the state to ensure safety and security of the journalists who ensure that the Fourth Estate discharges this key duty.”

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the Indian government to launch investigations into the murders.

It lists on its website the deaths of 41 journalists killed in India since 1992.

While police arrested two people in connection with the murder of Bhowmik, the killing of Gauri Lankesh has not been solved.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

India and EU to jointly combat terrorism

Narendra Modi has maintained that he will seek a free-trade pact with the EU [Xinhua]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lauded an agreement reached with the European Union to jointly fight terrorism.

“We agreed on fighting against terrorism together and increasing cooperation towards it,” Modi said following talks with delegations led by European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the 14th annual Indo-EU Summit in Delhi on Saturday.

India and the EU also pledged to share information and look for measures to combat the online threat of radicalisation, and “to engage in capacity building activities, such as training and workshops.”

For his part, Tusk said that India and the Eu have agreed to cooperate in security in the Indian Ocean region and beyond.

“We adopted a joint declaration on counter-terrorism to deal effectively with the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, terror financing and arms supply arms supply,” he added.

The two leaders also discussed ways to boost the India-EU Strategic Partnership and possible future free trade agreements.

In their final communique at the conclusion of the summit, India and the EU “welcomed the growing convergence on contemporary global issues and agreed to enhance India-EU cooperation in all multilateral fora. They also recognised their common responsibility towards ensuring international peace and security, and an open and inclusive international order.”

On Friday, India also agreed to joint anti-terrorism measures with Australia during the convening of the India-Australia joint steering committee in New Delhi.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies