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Russian actor is in love with Ramayana and India P.08

A Report from The Tmes of India. In association with Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Distributed with BANGALORE

Playing Rama was my karma reuters

Big investment in hi-tech health

Russia, India join hands as Afghan game gets hotter

Russia to spend 4.8 bn on medical sector till 2013


Bonding over Afghanistan

ria novosti

legion media

Russia India

...Marching towards a common future


New Delhi

Wednesday, MAY 25, 2011

Surgery Russian woman gets a heart valve carved from a pig's tissue

Defence How to sweeten the deal

In the first surgery of its kind, the Bakulev Center did the impossible when a young woman received a heart valve carved from the heart tissue of a pig.

Post MiG debacle, Russian Helicopter is sweetening the deal by offering local manufacturing and right to export to third countries.

sergei petrov

Alexei Usov

The Bakulev Scientific Center of Cardiovascular Surgery never fails to astonish with its innovations. The latest breakthrough is a unique operation performed by Russian surgeons under the direction of famous heart specialist Leo Bokeria. The 24-year-old patient, who suffers from Epstein’s anomaly (a serious heart defect that she has had from birth), received part of the heart of a pig. The replacement heart valve was handmade from the pig's’s heart tissue.

The Russian defence contractors are trying to shed the arrogance that cost them major tenders for supplying MiG-35 fighters to India and T-90 tanks to Thailand. In a move unprecedented in the country’s history, the helicopters of Russia holding company announced that it was ready to establish manufacturing of military equipment in India with the right to re-export to third countries. The helicopter builders are, thus, trying to gain the upper hand in three tenders for supplying the Indian Air Force with light highlander

Piggyback on a new heart

Plans to produce helicopters in India




ria novosti

continued on PAGE 3

Russian surgeon Leo Bokeria is famous for allowing journalists into the operating theater to watch the master perform medical miracles!

choppers, cargo carriers, and assault helicopters.These tenders are estimated to be worth more than $4 billion.“We may do the final assembly in India and enter other markets from the Indian market base,”Andrei Reus, CEO of United Industrial Corporation Oboronprom, said. Russian Helicopters holding company, an Oboronprom subsidiary, is responsible for the design and manufacturing of all helicopters in Russia. "India is a strategic market for us and the most dense in terms of the number of tenders in which we compete,” says Andrei Reus. He believes that the chances of the Russian company winning all those tenders are quite high because their equipment meets the Indian party’s requirements. continued on PAGE 2


Russia calling: Get a degree

Bollywood stars steal hearts

It is the summer of rediscovering Russian education in India as major cities host education fairs. Olga Nikushkina rir

More Indian students are travelling to Russia for a degree. This month, major Indian cities like New Delhi, Chennai and Ahmedabad hosted Russian higher education exposition-fair where students could decide what course suits them best. The fair is due to be held in Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and several other cities. Exhibiting at the fair

are famous Russian education brands: Moscow Institute of Aviation, Moscow Institute of Economics, Tver State Medical Academy, the Volgograd, Rostov and Bashkiria medical universities, St. Petersburg Medical Academy and Peoples' Friendship University in Moscow. The expo-fair was organised by the agency Rossotrudnichestvo, the Russian Center of International Education and the Association of Russian Institutions of Higher Learning Working in India — with the support of the Russian Embassy in New Delhi.

Russian Education Fair in New Delhi.

in The Economic Times


“The aim of this fair is to present the entire spectrum of possibilities offered by our education market,” says Mikhail Kalinkin, rector of the Tver State Medical Academy. “Every year, some 200 to 300 students from India come to Russia and this figure will increase in proportion to the development of Russian-Indian multilateral collaboration," says Kamruzzaman Saied, Director of the International Center of Russian Education. This year, Russia awarded more full-tuition scholarships for which Indian students are also eligible. Last year there were only seven such scholarships; this year there are 42.


Education Every year, 200-300 students from India go to Russia; more on way

Abhishek Bachchan shooting for Players, an Indo-Russian film, near the city of Murmansk, north of the Arctic Circle in Russia. It's a new remake of the 1969 thriller, 'The Italian Job'. SEE PAGE 7

read more on PAGEs 4-5

June 2 9

Every second Wednesday



Russia india report


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_MAY 25_2011

Energy India backs Gazprom's bid to join TAPI, only Turkmenistan opposing it

Kremlin pulls out all the stops to join TAPI pipeline Shifting geopolitics and changing business priorities are forcing Russia's Gazprom to join the Trans-Afghanistan natural gas pipeline linking Turkmenistan and India. Olga Senina

The Soviet project for the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India (TAPI) was revived by the US in the mid-1990s. Moscow has since steadfastly opposed the TAPI, while supporting an alternative gas transit route from Iran through Pakistan to India. Russia’s stance towards TAPI has, however, changed since autumn last year and it is now ready to take part in the project. The $7.6 bn pipeline will have a throughput of 33 bn cubic metres a year. Out of this, India’s share will be 18 bn cubic metres a year. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has already discussed the project with leaders of all four participating countries. Early this year, he got backing of Afghan President Hamid Karzai that led to a joint Russian-Afghan intergovernmental commission, co-



The biggest obstacle of TAPI - ensuring security for a project that would wind through a hazardous territory.

headed by Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko on the Russian side. India, Russia’s main partner in Asia, has nothing against Gazprom participating in the project, say highlyplaced sources. Pakistan also supports the idea. Only Turk-

menistan, which is striving to enter the European and Asian markets bypassing Russia, is strongly opposed to Gazprom’s participation in TAPI. In October last year, when Medvedev visited Turkmenbashi, Russia submitted its

proposals concerning potential roles for Gazprom in the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline consortium. It could take part in development, become the project designer, and invest in the project’s equity, as well as produce natural gas at Turkmenistan’s inland deposits and sell it to other participating countries. The TAPI participant countries held a meeting in New Delhi in late April to discuss technical and financial issues. No Russian representative was, however, invited. Gazprom, on its part, does not like to bury its cash in the ground on explosive routes, while 830 km of the new pipeline will go through the Afghan territory and another 400 km through Pakistan. Plus, gas supplies to India via third parties are rather attractive for the Russian monopoly. Alexander Pasechnik, Head of Analysis of Russia’s National Energy Security Fund, points out that politics forced Russia to reconsider its stance on TAPI.“Although, on paper, the relations between Moscow and Washington have thawed, we are still in an ideological stand-off,” he says. Oil and gas industry news Russian Helicopters, JSC e Shipyard "Yantar"

in brief IT solutions TATA Consultancy ENTERS RUSSIAN banking MARKET A subsidiary of the Indian consortium Tata, which specialises in solutions for the banking sector, is now entering the markets of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has signed a partnership pact with the Russian integrator Universal KUBE. The partners’ first client was Binbank, which introduced Tata’s automated system. TCS en-

tered the Russian market with a platform developed specially for Russian banks. The management at Tata decided that it would be more effective to sign a partnership agreement with Universal KUBE than to open their own office in Russia. The development of a comprehensive solution for the Russian market took two years, while a license cost Binbank $10 million. RBK Daily

partnership Sitronics and Shyam Networks sign deal Russian microelectronics company Sitronics and India’s Shyam Networks have signed a partnership agreement, Sitronics VP for business development Boris Volpe said. The companies intend to sign resale agreements for mutual promotion of their respective solutions on the Indian and Russian markets. Shyam Networks will offer its clients

Sitronics’ billing and security systems solutions. In exchange, the Indian company plans to supply its transport and oil & gas smart video surveillance systems to Russia. It is impossible to enter a market such as India’s without support from a local partner fully familiar with the regulatory framework of its national market, says Volpe. PRIME TASS


Joint production of helicopters in India Andrei Reus, CEO of United Industrial Corporation Oboronprom, points out that India had the necessary infrastructure and trained personnel for operating Russian-made helicopters. Rosoboronexport, Oboronprom’s parent company, is participating in three tenders floated by India’s Ministry of Defence for supplying helicopters of various classes.The biggest one - for light helicopters to be used in high-altitude mountain areas - envisages



Russian Helicopters's IPO called off last week will make another attmpt next year.

supplying the Indian Air Force with 197 helicopters worth $2 bn. Kamov’s Ka-226Ts are competing there against the AS-550 from Eurocopter, as well as the A-109 and A-119 from AugustaWestland. In another tender of 22 assault helicopters valued at $1.4 bn, the Russian-made Mi-28NE is bidding against the American AH-64D Apache Longbow Block III. Finally, a $700 mn contract for 15 heavy cargo helicopters is up in the air with the Mi-26T2 and the CH-47F Chinook from the US competing for it.

The tenders were announced in 2008–2009 and the results are expected in 2011.With this sort of competition, it is only natural for the Russian company to want to better its chance by offering the customer joint production and sweetening the deal with the right to export the output to third countries. Russian defence industrialists believe the plan to establish production in India with the right to re-export should be a substantial argument in favour of the Russian machines participating in the tender.

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ria novosti

At the Baltic shipbuilding factory Yantar in Kaliningrad, a third frigate, Trikand, for the Indian Navy is being made ready for the launch. According to Yantar press secretary Sergei Mikhailov, the Trikand is more than 60% ready, equipped with all the necessary mechanisms and a significant part of its weapons, including a Bramos missile complex. The remaining work will be completed when

the Trikand is in the water. “Everything is going according to plan, the collective involved in this venture is trying to finish on schedule and, undoubtedly, will provide high-quality work,” said Mikhailov. The launch ceremony will take place on May 25 with highranking officials from Russia and India in attendance. Yantar is continuing work on two other ships from the “Indian series.” RIA Novosti

Website of the Embassy

of the Russian Federation in India


Russia india report Ministry of Health and Social Development website Find more about Healthcare in Russia


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_MAY 25_2011


Health Kremlin is planning to spend $4.8 billion on the development of hi-tech medical treatment in 2008-2013

High-tech healthcare has moved to top of the Kremlin's agenda. Both Putin and Medvedev have thrown their weight behind this action plan for national revival. ben aris

business new europe

Russia will allocate $159.7 million to provide citizens with state-of-the-art medical equipment at polyclinics spread across 55 of Russia’s regions. The largest chunk of the money - around $16.2 million - will be spent on the Krasnodar region. Moscow and St. Petersburg, the two most populous cities in Europe, will receive the $12.5 million and $12.8 million, respectively. The east Siberian region of Kemerovo will get the least, $127,000. As the Kremlin steps up efforts to improve the lives of Russia’s citizens and diversify the economy, the reform of the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector has moved to the top of the political agenda. Russian Prime MinisterVladi-

mir Putin said that the development of domestic hi-tech medical equipment production should be a priority for the Russian government and regional heads during a recent inspection trip to the city of Bryansk on Russia’s border with Ukraine. He said that the government was planning to spend $4.8 billion on the development of hi-tech medical treatment in 2008-2013. The reform of the healthcare sector was launched during the last decade as one of the “National Projects”, headed by Dmitry Medvedev. Since then, many health-related areas have shown signs of improvement. The polyclinic management system has been overhauled, doctors’ salaries have been hiked and a new ambulance fleet was purchased. Late last year, Putin said that the number of Russian citizens who received hitech medical care had gone up fivefold to 290,000 people over the last five years. But there is still much to do. “To reach the EU level by

2020, Russia needs to increase healthcare spending by around 15% a year,”said Lev Yakobson, first pro-rector of the Higher School of Economics' National Research In. Putin has been personally spearheading the drive to upgrade Russia’s healthcare system. He appeared at a charity event for children in December where he played the Russian song“From Where Does the Motherland Begin”on the piano and then sang “Blueberry Hill” in English with jazz performers.The audience included Hollywood stars such as Sharon Stone, Kevin Costner, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Mickey Rourke, and Gerard Depardieu. Proceeds from the event were used to buy medical equipment at children’s hospitals. Investment in healthcare was a key element in Medvedev’s action plan for Russia’s revival, which was unveiled in a speech at Magnitogorsk in April. Medvedev outlined 10 priority areas. He said the government would increase


Russia invests in hi-tech healthcare

Massive investment in reforming healthcare is a key element in the plan for national revival.

spending on health and equipment by 15% which is necessary to raise Russian medical standards to the EU levels. However, the main thrust of the reform is to develop the domestic pharmaceutical and medical equipment production industries. Russia should manufacture at least half the medical equipment it needs by 2020, up from 11% at present, Putin said. The state has already earmarked $1.4 billion to support the develop-

ment of the domestic manufacturers of medical equipment, he added. Likewise, the Kremlin has launched a carrot-and-stick strategy to encourage major international pharmaceutical companies to increase their investment in Russia. Those who don’t toe the line have to face an increase in import tariffs on medical products. Those companies with domestic Russian production are given tax breaks. And the

market is not one the global industry wants to ignore: Russia imported $9.2 billion worth of pills and other medicines in 2010. The scheme has scored two big successes. The pharmaceutical giant firm AstraZeneca started building a new $150 million production plant and R&D facility in Kaluga in April while Finland’s Orion says it's in advanced talks to enter the market via acquisition.


The fine membranes surrounding the animal’s heart served as the basis for this bioprosthesis which was matched anatomical features of the patient. Bokeria says he worked on this model for three years. "This valve design is physiological, because it took the mitral valve with the papillary muscles, we created an anatomical structure that is very close to nature," he said. The operation of the valve of this form is the first in the world. It was watched by journalists, dressed as doctors . The Bakulev Center is no stranger to such implants in heart surgery, but the ones

re at

Find mo

done earlier were mainly made from pigs’ hearts. Till this day, no one has ever made a human heart valve especially for a specific patient, taking into account his or her physiological abilities. A valve that can be delivered to the heart through the femoral vein is another innovation. "This is the so-called stent-valves, which can be compressed," says Vic Kostava, head of the laboratory research on the development of bioprostheses at the Bakulev Centre. Every year, more than 10,000 patients receive bio-prostheses in Russia – a small number that is less than 30% of the people who actually require this sort of surgical interven-

nikolai korolyov

Unique heart surgery in Moscow sets new standards

Alexander Konovalov at his ecofarm.

tion.The Bakulev Center alone performs over 4,500 openheart operations a year; of these, some 40% involve the

replacement of heart valves. The selection of these bioprostheses is, however, often a problem. Every animal can’t

be used in medicine. After a long search, the center settled on the farm of Alexander Konovalov. “We have specially equipped premises with good light, water, plumbing and heat. We have ventilation. In the water that we give to our animals we have even found silver ions. On top of that, our animals watch television every day and listen to classical music. Most important of all, we raise our animals exclusively on organic feed,”says a proud Konovalov. The animal tissue membranes are literally sewn into a ring 34 millimeters in diameter. The operation that Bokeria performed in May was the first of its kind in the world.

Russia-India: waiting for a “reset” Andrei Volodin

n Indrus.i

Afghan Great Game: Huge stakes for Russia, India Dr Rupakjyoti Borah

Konovalov’s ecofarm, located in the Shakhavskoi district of the Moscow Region, has long been famous for its innovative methods of farming and for using ecological technologies to raise livestock. The specialists at Bakulev Center studied the biomaterials supplied by the ecofarm over a period of six months. Then they prepared several dozen prosthetic heart valves, and only after that did they signed a long-term cooperation agreement with Konovalov.“Our ecofarm has no commercial interest in its work with the Bakulev Center. We supply our biomaterials free of charge,” says Konovalov.


Russia india report



in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_MAY 25_2011 Russian Centre of Science and Culture in New Delhi Tver State Medical Academy Education in Russia

interview Mikhail Kalinkin

It's cheaper and better... 'Russia offers optimal ratio of cost to quality of education;

Many Indian students opt for medicine in Russia and are not scared of winter, says the head of the Association of Russian Institutions of Higher Leaning in India. Olga Nikushkina rir

Russian institutions of higher learning are expanding their cooperation with India, offering scholarships and so on. Why does Russia want to draw Indian students? Let’s talk about medical schools, like the Tver State Medical Academy. In India, medical education has traditionally been in great demand. That's why several Russian medical universities have come to this year’s fair, including our academy. The Tver State Medical Academy currently has between 4500 and 5000 students. Of these, some 1200 are foreigners from sixty countries, including 700 to 800 Indians. So most of our foreign students come from India, followed by those from Arab nations and Sri Lanka. Gradu-

Mikhail Kalinkin, rector of the Tver Medical Academy.

ates of our academy are working in almost every country in the world.

What do universities do to attract foreign students? And why do these students choose to study in Russia? The training for a number of professions is cheaper in Russia than in other countries. It's even cheaper than in India. Moreover, in Russia, one can train for professions that are

not taught in India. These include professions in the aviation industry and in oil and gas. The Tver State Medical Academy, like many famous universities, is helped by its name: people have known about us since the Soviet times.And now information is disseminated very quickly — via the Internet. Graduates and students gladly share information and talk to each other about everything: conditions in the student dorms,the procedure for taking exams, etc. For example, none of our new students are afraid of the“terrible” Russian winters, as I’ve already said. They learned that the winters aren’t really so terrible from the Internet.The students who come to study at TGMA know that we provide a classical fundamental education that is useful to any sort of medical specialist. I consider that we have the optimal ratio of cost to quality of education.

Are the medical degrees of Russian-trained Indian doctors recognised in India?

Several years ago, the Indian Medical Council made it a requirement for all doctors trained abroad (in any country, be it Russia, the United States or Great Britain) to take a qualifying exam in order to work in India. Incidentally, this fact, I think, helped to increase the demand for a Russian medical education. Now there is certainty: graduates of any foreign medical school must take a standard qualifying exam. This is a fairly common international practice. For example, a doctor must know the trade names of medicines in India — abroad, you see, these medicines may be known by other names. An Indian doctor must know the local diseases and he must, of course, confirm his knowledge. But the examiners are human, and they may have certain stereotypes and prejudices.That is why I always say once you get a solid education, then no exam is scary.We know of hundreds of graduates of Russian universities not only working in different countries,

ria novostia

students get choice of more courses and professions'

but also attaining great heights in their careers. Moreover, some institutions, like ours, prepare students ahead of time not only for the Russian exams, but also the Indian qualifying exam. The professors teach additional classes devoted not only to our textbooks, but also the Indian state standards in Indian text-

books. They do the same for students from other countries.

Several years ago, there were cases of aggression by nationalists with respect to foreign students in Russia. And there have been fires in student CONTINUED on PAGE 5

says Dinesh. Exams in these subjects are taken as a part of the admission process at medical schools. Physics is the only subject you do not have to take an exam on at some universities.A Russian language exam, however, is mandatory for everyone. If a university offers courses in English, it costs $1,000 per annum more, but, on the other hand, you can skip your first year of foundation courses. This was the option Dinesh chose. After he completes his general medicine degree, Chakraborty is planning to specialise in public healthcare.“This is a new major and involves a lot of administrative work. It does, however,

from private archive

"Having lived in Russia, I can say that it is a wonderful country; such an interesting mix of Europe and Asia," says Dinesh Chakraborty, a sixth-year student at I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University. He admits that cheaper education was the main reason he chose to attend a university abroad. The entrance exams proved to be easier than he had expected: 40 minutes were all he needed to complete his assignments. “Many of my classmates said that they had found the exams difficult, but I sailed through everything, perhaps thanks to having studied chemistry, biology and physics very hard while in secondary school,”

Dinesh Chakraborty: 'I sailed through everything'

draw on concrete knowledge in practical disciplines.” Russian universities offer students three main disciplines. A degree in pharmaceuticals can take five years.The degree

for this course can feature such majors as pharmaceutics or medicinal production technology. The general medicine course takes six years. General practitioner’s training is followed by a clinical internship and further clinical traineeship (one year and two years, respectively) that allow students to specialise in their chosen field. Internships are normally suitable for specialising in the most popular fields, such as general medicine, surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology. A further clinical traineeship allows students to access a wider range of fields (featuring over 100 majors), including the socalled“elite”professions such

as cardiovascular and maxillofacial surgery, as well as psychiatry. The dentistry course is completed over five years. Specialist training, for instance, in periodontology also follows this general degree course. Experts believe that serious discrepancies between the Indian and Russian medical training systems was the main reason why the flow of Indian students to Russian universities started ebbing in the 1990s. In India, general medical training and a bachelor’s degree (Bachelor of Medicine or Bachelor of Surgery) can be obtained in five years. The Doctor of Medicine title comes with a degree that takes an-

from private archive

Indian students are upbeat about medical colleges, job prospects; admire Russian culture Kishore Repaswal: 'It wasn't difficult to find a job'

other three years to complete. A Russian university course in general medicine takes six years and gives you a MD degree, but the course involves many more disciplines and academic hours. Following a compromise reached by both countries’ministries of education, Russian universities are expecting an increase in the number of Indian students. CONTINUED on PAGE 5

bookmarks People’s Friendship University of Russia Moscow State University (Department of Fundamental Medicine) Volgograd Medical University

Russia india report

A magnet for global students

In the Peoples' Friendship University in Moscow, you can meet students from 130 countries of the world.


dorms. What is being done to handle these problems? There are security structures in place where foreign students are studying. In case of problems, these structures respond immediately. In their turn, they make an effort to explain to students at the outset what is


Practical training is normally carried out at the hospital: students start learning the ABCs of working with patients during their very first years of university.At first, this involves the not-so-pleasant work of being a hospital attendant. But every doctor has to be“educated by adversity”. The 3rd year involves feldsher (assistant to a medical doctor) training, followed by years four, five and six spent almost entirely at clinics, where students learn to make decisions in more serious circumstances under the supervision of their advisors, who are at the same time practicing doctors. Interns are said to almost“live”at the hospital while honing their skills in their chosen field. The language barrier, however, makes hospital work a tall task for foreign students. In 2003, Kishore Repaswal grad-

Russia is once again becoming a magnet for international students. It's still a far cry from the heyday of the USSR, which was number two in hosting international students. The US is still leading the way (around 20%), but things are looking up for Russia as well. In the last few years, Russia’s international university student body has grown by 10%, exceeding 70,000. There are also 40,000 part-time students. Russia's schools of mathematics and applied sciences count among the best in the world. Just look at the number of Russian professors working at American universities. Along with mathematicians and IT specialists, Russian graduates of medical schools are highly sought after. “The demand for Russian university education continues to grow," says Boris Derevyagin, Head of the Analytics Department at the Russian Rectors’ Union. “Russia’s educational model is the only one in the world offering both fundamental knowledge and practical research training.”

done and what isn’t in Russia, what is recommended and what isn’t. Of course, we all remember the terrible fires in student dorms several years ago. At the time, I called a meeting of our students and told them of the possible consequences of a careless attitude toward fire rules, be it an iron that is left on or a cigarette that is not put out.

In our academy, as in other institutions of higher learning, we conduct trainings. Almost every university takes strict disciplinary action against violators, especially smokers and students who misbehave in public places. We get in touch with their parents and take disciplinary action. All this concerns Russian and foreign stu-

dents alike.They are all young, and if they are living in a dorm, they are cut off from their family and not insured against making mistakes. Still they know very well that the strict rules are in place for their own good and safety.

uated from PFUR after completing his traineeship; he got his doctorate in 2004. He is now a neurologist at a large medical centre in Moscow. “Our practical training was provided at a hospital but unfortunately, patient contact was a struggle. Sometimes, we just could not understand

each other. That’s when our Russian professors would come to the rescue. " Having finished his education, Repaswal went back to India and worked for two years. After that, he found himself in Russia once again:“I like the climate. I certainly admire the Russian culture. I have a lot of

doctor friends, which is why it wasn’t difficult to find a job here." Once they return to India, medical doctors fresh out of school have to get their qualifications verified by the Medical Council of India, i.e. take qualifying examinations.


Olga Boyarintseva, RIR

Advantage Russia: Pay less for the same degree Tuition fees at the University of Cambridge in England range from £9,000 per annum for a theory course to £22,000 per annum for a clinical practice course. At Oxford Brookes University, one would pay £10,500 for a bachelor’s degree course and £10,500-£12,000 per annum for a master’s degree course. The average cost of studying at Long Island University in New York is $36,000 per annum. Russian univer-


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_MAY 25_2011

sities, in comparison, is easy on the pocket. For instance, a foundation course at The Peoples' Friendship University in Moscow (PFUR) costs $4,000. The standard annual tuition is $5,950 for a course in general medicine, $6,150 for a dental course and $4,500 for a course in pharmaceutical medicine. Standard course fees at the I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University range from $3,250 to $5,500

per annum. The least expensive course is in pharmaceuticals, followed by general medicine and dentistry, the last of which is traditionally the most expensive degree. You can get by on $400-500 per month even in Moscow. This includes food, mobile phone bills, transport and daily expenses. Food at student canteens is not cheap but it is certainly much less expensive than at city cafes.


Reforming for a globalised world The new move to 'westernise' Russian universities under the Bologna Process has sparked a debate about the dire need to bring Russian education in line with global standards. Tom Balmforth


Modelled on Germany’s education system, Russian universities are again being“westernised” — this time under the aegis of the Bologna Process. The declaration signed at Bologna University by 28 countries in 1999 set out to create a “European Higher Education Area”, a transnational space with a compatible, harmonised system of education. In 2003, Russia joined the process, indicating its desire to universalise higher education and make its students more mobile in a globalised world. The process of harmonising higher education across the pan-European space by uniformly adopting the AngloSaxon model now has 47 signatory members. Russia’s process has nonetheless been fraught with difficulties linked to the peculiarities of the Russian system and its distinctiveness from the Anglo-Saxon model. Ironically, the Westernising current in Russian philosophical thought — in this instance, advocated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev — has seen the Bologna Process come into conflict with the old German education model introduced in Russia in the 18th century. An enduring vestige of Germany’s legacy in Russia is the spetsialist degree — the generic degree bestowed after five to six years of university study. In October 2007, the Russian government passed a law to bring the degree award system in line with Europe’s. But the law enacting a two-tiered degree system had little effect. Instead of actually drafting a new curriculum, the mandatory B.A. or B.S. level was simply tacked into the curriculum halfway through the old spetsialist degree — amounting to only a change in the veneer of degrees. The majority of Russian students presently complete all three tiers of degrees (bachelor’s, spetsialist and master’s). They see no point in stopping at the unfamiliar and only partially recognised bachelor’s level. Still, according to the most recent available report on Russia’s progress, the number of students graduat-

ing with bachelor’s and master’s appears to be increasing. But this estimated 19% increase is still low, considering that some universities have long offered the“bakalavr”diploma (four years), as well as the“spetsialist”diploma (five to six years) and the“magistr” diploma (six years). In 1992, Russia passed a law enacting a multi-tiered system of education, but a few Russians enrolled for the bachelor’s since employers did not recognise it and it was seen as inferior to the traditional specialist level. The same problem arose in Germany. The Russian labour market, too, has been sluggish in recognising the bachelor’s and as a result, the bachelor’s degree is often shunned. “In the new system, there is not enough attention given to the autonomy of higher education. The process of education is still strongly controlled by the government. Still, the government is the source of educational standards," says Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun, an expert on education reforms. "And the universities have less say in their educational programmes in comparison with their European counterparts. I think that the path taken by reform of the education system in Russia is a compromise between the norms of the Bologna Process and the old Soviet conditions. The system is one of compromise.” Soviet nostalgia is a major challenge to the“modernisation” mantra espoused by President Dmitry Medvedev, but which actually has long been evident in Russia’s Bologna Process, says Roman Selyukov, the deputy director of the“Eureka”Institute on the Problems of Education Politics. Russia’s continued integration into global trade clubs underlines the necessity of Russia’s integration with panEuropean education reform. After almost 18 years on the road, Russia may finally be turning the bend onto the final straight of World Trade Organization (WTO) accession. “I think clearly that if Russia is going to accede to the WTO, we have to encourage as much as possible the competitiveness of Russia’s system of education and related services. Imposing the Bologna Process requires creating infrastructure, which would allow opening up Russia’s education services on the international market,”says Selyukov.



Russia india report


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_MAY 25_2011 Johnson’s Russia List Analysis of business, economic, political and cultural trends Strategic Culture Foundation magazine

Getting Afghanistan inside SCO tent partially situated in this region. This time around, the SCO RIA Novosti summit will be held on June 15 f there is one key word in the in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, documents adopted by rather than in Almaty.The AlShanghai Cooperation Or- maty meeting has prepared a ganisation (SCO) foreign min- large set of documents, includisters at their meeting in Al- ing a draft of the future Astana maty recently, it is“Afghanistan”. Declaration and an anti-drugs It is this country that is about strategy. Russian Foreign Minto usher in a totally new stage ister Sergei Lavrov announced in the development of the SCO. that Afghanistan requested an An Afghanistan without US or observer status several days NATO troops will be a com- ago.“This matter will be conpletely different country - not sidered at the upcoming sumnecessarily more safe or more mit,”he announced. comprehensible than it is now. A decision on admitting new Just different. members and observers may be The SCO is now a classic inter- taken at the summit. Afghaninational regional organisation stan has enjoyed a special staalong the lines of the ASEAN in tus within the SCO to date and South-East Asia or the MER- its President, Hamid Karzai, COSUR in Latin America. Its has been attending the organimeetings bring together heads sation’s summits as a guest. of state and government, de- That is, it does not have observfence ministers and bankers, er status like India, Pakistan, and programmes are underway Iran, or Mongolia. Historically, to establish common security it was Afghanistan which trigand cooperation areas in the gered establishment of the SCO Central Asia region. Fully- in the first place ten years ago fledged SCO member states,in- in Shanghai. By the summer of cluding Kazakhstan, China, 2001, all SCO countries were Kyrgyzstan, Russia,Tajikistan, facing a common threat – the and Uzbekistan, are entirely or Taliban regime was in power in Dmitry Kosyrev


Kabul.Threats bring people together, so it was decided to create a full-scale SCO, just as a number of South-East Asian states created ASEAN in 1967 – essentially to fend off the Communist threat emanating from China, which was then in the throes of the Cultural Revolution. In the summer of 2001, Taliban preachers crossed the Afghan borders with Uzbeki-

It no longer makes sense to keep India at the SCO's doors despite China's objections stan and Tajikistan, and created many subversive organisations. In theory, terrorists could have come to power inTashkent or Dushanbe. An “SCO decision” had barely been made when 9/11 happened, and Afghanistan saw a large influx of US troops. The situation had changed dramatically. I was lucky to witness firsthand the truly historic session

of SCO foreign ministers in Beijing in January 2001. At stake was whether the SCO was needed at all amid the new developments. And the answer was: it was needed more than ever. Otherwise, the Central Asian countries would end up like Laos or Cambodia during the Vietnam war, with the US and others pulling them apart, overthrowing their regimes, and setting up military bases there at will, without asking permission… And here we are, at the end of an era. The US and NATO are to pull out of Afghanistan. Perhaps even out of Pakistan, too. This process may be short or protracted but they will, eventually, leave. And judging by what is going on inside Afghanistan, it will become an arena for competition or coexistence of the interests of China, India, Pakistan, probably Russia, Uzbekistan,and some other countries, too. Preparations must be made for this new era. Admitting new members to the SCO will be appropriate under the circumstances.And the key issue is not Iran, which has long wanted to join the SCO. AsTeh-

niyaz karim

ran’s policy softens and becomes more transparent over its nuclear programme, Iran will be admitted to the SCO as it is a real partner for numerous countries in the region. Against this backdrop, it clearly no longer makes sense to keep India and Pakistan at the SCO’s doors, even though China has been objecting to India’s bid to join it. Otherwise, at least two regional powers will be pulling Afghanistan in op-

posite directions, and who needs that? And as we can see, all is clear regarding Afghanistan. It will first become an SCO observer and then a member. If only because the SCO’s anti-drugs strategy, a key issue for the organisation, is unlikely to succeed unless Afghanistan is included in the regional cooperation structure. Dmitry Kosyrev is RIA Novosti Political Observer.

Great Game: India, Russia bond over Afghan concerns Manish Chand

specially for RIR

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kabul in May underscored India’s unflagging resolve to stay firmly engaged with Afghanistan amid the unfolding ‘endgame’ in that country. The visit, coming as it did close on the heels of the killing of 26/11 architect Osama bin Laden on May 1 in Abbotabad by US forces, also underlined India’s fresh assertion of its strategic interests in a country Pakistan has long regarded as“strategic depth.” Manmohan Singh announced a fresh pledge of $500 million, making India one of the largest international donors to Afghanistan with a total aid assistance of $2 billion. The message to the international community is loud and clear: it is India, not Paki-

stan, which is a key partner for the Afghan resurgence. The Indian leader's visit to Kabul was watched keenly in key world capitals, especially in Moscow which not only shares New Delhi’s concerns about the potential Taliban ascendancy but is also worried about a dangerous power vacuum that could follow after a drawdown of US and Nato troops, plunging the entire region into turmoil. Moscow remembers all too well the catastrophe that ensued after it scripted its exit policy in the late 1980s, leading eventually to the usurpation of power by the Taliban regime in Kabul in 1996. Russia, therefore, would do anything to prevent a repeat of the same nightmare that stoked Islamist militancy along its southern arc stretching from Agediye via Chechnya and Dagestan in the northern Caucasus to Tatar-

stan and Bashkorotostan.The recent bombings at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport also brought home to powers-thatbe in Moscow the dangers of radical extremism. While security concerns are overriding factors driving India and Russia closer in seeking a viable resolution of the Afghan crisis, there are also additional factors like the Afghan drug problem. Nearly 25%of all Afghan heroin reaches Russia via Central Asia, spawning nearly 3 million addicts. The incestuous links between the Afghan opium trade, militancy and warlordism is a source of deep anxiety for both countries. New Delhi feels that the Afghan opium is what is keeping anti-India terror outfits in Afghanistan like the Haqqani network in business. Moscow is also keen to join the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghan-

istan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. India and Russia, key partners in propping the Northern Alliance that ousted the Taliban regime in 2001, therefore, are natural allies in ensuring a positive outcome in Afghanistan that safeguards their own interests amid competing agendas and geopolitical rivalries festering in the region. For one thing, Russia shares India’s formulation that there are no good or bad Taliban just as there are no good or bad terrorists. Moscow also agrees with New Delhi about ‘red lines’ which should be followed in any power-sharing arrangement between the Taliban and the Afghan government. There is, however, a difference in priorities.Whereas Moscow’s primary concern is to prevent the spillover of Islamic militancy, aided by the Taliban, into Central Asia and its southern re-

gions, New Delhi has resolved to deny Pakistan ‘strategic depth’its military-intelligence establishment covets badly as it would expose India to more cross-border terror attacks. This is why New Delhi has espoused a democratic, modern and pluralistic Afghanistan, free from external interference and extremism – a vision Moscow shares. This also explains why New Delhi and Moscow are fiercely opposed to the exit of western troops from Afghanistan as they dread the ascendancy of Taliban-allied radical Islamist network in the region. The killing of bin Laden has given a new opportunity to the region to free itself from virulent strains of cross-border Islamist extremism. India and Russia have welcomed it, but realise fully well that the death of bin Laden is by no means the end of terror in the region. On

the contrary, the Afghan Great Game has now acquired a new twist, creating new realignments among key players in the region. A pragmatic Moscow may be seeking to engage Pakistan to influence the powersharing deal in Kabul, but Moscow knows its long-term interests in Afghanistan converge with that of India, which has earned huge goodwill through its reconstruction activities ranging from the building of the Afghan parliament to roads, dams and power stations.The two time-tested partners are, therefore, set to intensify their consultations in days to come to ensure that safe havens of terror in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region are eliminated for the sake of shared prosperity. Manish Chand is New Delhibased writer on foreign affairs and is Senior Editor, IANS.

All articles appearing on page 6 do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the editors of Rossiyskaya Gazeta and Russia India Report.

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in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_MAY 25_2011


Film Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu enact daring robberies in Indo-Russian film 'Players', being shot near Murmansk

Bollywood stars steal hearts amid Arctic snow Barely six months after Medvedev visited a film studio in Mumbai, AbbasMustan descend on Far North with Bollywood stars to shoot an Indo-Russian thriller. Aleksei Mikhailov rir

Players, an Indo-Russian film, shot near Murmansk.

aleksei mikhailov(3)

Russians driving beyond the Arctic Circle have never seen anything like that before. A column of trucks lines a back road close to the St Petersburg–Murmansk Motorway.A trailer with its back doors wide open is parked at the shoulder against the backdrop of the snowy-white landscape, with stacks of gold bullion clearly visible inside. It’s incredible, but it’s real: The famous Indian directors and producers, the brothers Abbas and Mustan Burmawalla, aka Abbas-Mustan, are shooting an action thriller, called Players at a location north of the Arctic Circle. The film stars Abhishek Bachchan, the son of legendary Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan and husband of actress Aishwarya Rai, a former beauty queen. IFC Distribution Pvt Ltd has started shooting the movie as a part of a Russian–Indian state-sponsored cultural exchange programme approved by both governments after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Bollywood. The duo have acquired the rights for a remake of The Italian Job, a famous action flick, from Paramount Pictures. The gold in the truck is not real of course – the gold bricks were custom-made in India. The plot of the film revolves around six tonnes of gold stolen by the thieves.“When we first started planning the movie, we were very much intrigued by the scene where trains race across the snowcovered plain,” said Mustan. “So we started looking for a suitable location. A compatriot working in Russia told us about Murmansk. We visited last year, looked around, and liked it a lot. So we started scheduling.” The film consists of two parts. The second part has already been shot in New Zealand,

Abhishek Bachchan on the sets of Players in Murmansk.

Actress Bipasha Basu in Murmansk: When it snows, it's like a fairytale.

while part one is being filmed in the Murmansk region. The crew has chosen two locations: the Bolshoi Lapot Lake and a railway station at Piajve. The crew will then move to St. Petersburg to zero in on the city’s most beautiful landmarks such as the Winter Palace and St Isaac’s Cathedral. Abhishek Bachchan plays the ringleader and the mastermind of his gang’s robberies. Bolshoi Lapot Lake is the location for one of the key scenes: the bandits celebrate a successful heist only to discover a traitor within their ranks. He is, of course, also a romantic hero in a beautiful love story. “I’m lucky to date two girls at once according to the script,” said the actor. When asked

in Bollywood before:“We shot a scene from a helicopter where the main character drops in and hangs between two trains moving at 60 km/h while trying to break into a safe.” Two well-known Russian actors,Vyacheslav Razbegayev and Stanislav Oskolkov, appear in supporting roles. The latter visited New Zealand, while the former will have to travel to Mumbai where he will take part in a singing and dancing scene. The Russian actors also play extras where they portray armed thugs wearing face masks and shades. Players will be released in Russia in November or December this year, with Russian subtitles. Globus Film, a

whom he will eventually choose, Abhishek laughed and quipped:“Why choose? I’ll keep both.”By the way, one of those women is the Bollywood diva Bipasha Basu, who plays the role of a gifted thief working in tandem with the ringleader. "We hit a lot of different targets together: an art gallery, trains, and banks, including Russian ones,” Bipasha said. “We have stand-ins and stuntmen, but I like to do stunts myself because I’m into sports. If the director lets me do a stunt, I’m happy to oblige.” The actors performed almost all complicated tricks under the guidance of an experienced stuntman. Stunt director Allan Amin said that some of the tricks filmed in the Arctic had never been attempted

film studio in St Petersburg film, organised the Russian portion of the filming. The Indian remake of The Italian Job will obviously significantly differ from the original, with less shootings and blood and with more music and dancing. The Arctic landscape has made a lasting impression on the film crew. Despite the glaring sun, the director was wrapped up to his eyes in a dark-blue feather-down coat and was wearing warm gloves throughout.Actor Bobby Deol admitted that he had never felt so cold before.“It’s as if winter suddenly strikes in the middle of summer,”an incredulous Deol said.“I never felt so cold before in India, even on the coldest days. Over here, I

keep adding layer after layer but still can’t get warm. We work between 10 and 12 hours a day, because the sun never goes down here! I grew accustomed to the fact that beyond the Arctic Circle, it’s daytime until almost midnight. Unfortunately, because of my tight filming schedule, I didn’t have the chance to explore Murmansk.” “When it snows, it’s like a fairytale,”says Bipasha Basu, awed by the beauty of the Extreme North. But what about the famous Bollywood singing and dancing in the freezing cold? "It’s hard to imagine Indian cinema without dancing, because it’s a part of our culture,”says she.“Of course, we will have dancing, but we will shoot them elsewhere.”





IN ASSOCIATION WITH ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, RUSSIA THE TIMES OF INDIA WEDNESDAY_MAY 25_2011 The Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Russian theatre life in brief an information project of Russian Theatre Union




Decades after the premiere of Ramayana in New Delhi, Pechnikov recalls with relish his meeting with Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first PM. After the Ramayana premiere in India, Pechnikov recalls warmly, “Jawaharlal Nehru came up to me, shook my hand and said: 'You are our Rama.’ And this was the best compliment for me. Actually, Nehru was supposed to stay only for the first act but when his assistant tried to remind him about it, he brushed him off saying: 'Please, for once in my life, let me do what I want'.” Pechnikov firmly believes that playing Rama was more of karma than a role. His home shows the deep impression Indian culture and religion have left on his mind and heart. There are statues of Rama and Sita, and Shiva on the shelves. The most precious of them is a picture of Rama, Sita and Hanuman carved on the wood. In this interview, Pechnikov talks about his experiences of playing Rama and acclaim that followed, reminiscences of his visits to India and his life-long love affair with India.

How did you begin working on Ramayana? I co-directed Ramayana. It

How did the Indian audience like your portrayal of Ram? Remember the Ramayana scene when during the contest for the hand of beautiful Sita, only Rama can raise the bow? Indian performers playing Rama raised the bow very easily. And I suggested that my character puts much effort into picking up the bow because it shows its heaviness and emphasises Rama’s strength.The Indian audience were delighted. On the whole, I felt very encouraged by the reaction of Indians to this play because I was a little bit anxious how it would be received in India. I had a good relationship with the then Indian ambassador, K.P.S. Menon and his wife Saraswati Menon. So I asked the ambassador why Indians liked me and my performance of Rama. He is god, he is an ideal, and it is a great challenge and responsibility to perform this role. And, after all, I am a representative of a completely different culture.

50 years and counting.... Last December, Russia celebrated the golden jubilee of Indian epic Ramayana's first performance in Children Theatre in Moscow. It was staged by Gennady Pechnikov, who remains the only professional artist to play the role of Lord Rama on stage in Europe. The veteran actor has performed in Ramlila for over 40 years. In 2008, he was conferred the prestigious Padma Shri by India.

The ambassador laughed and explained to me:“Firstly, your figure, you are very stately, you have big eyes and round face, which makes you look the part. And, most importantly, you are very kind. Because Rama must be kind, he puts the interests of his people first."

Rama is human, alltoo-human. When Rama fights against Ravana, all the forces of nature help him. Tell us about your visits to India I remember my first visit to this amazing country. It was Indira Gandhi who invited me, and it was a miracle that I was allowed to go there alone, without being accompanied by the government people. I

was very stressed because I didn’t know what would be a proper gift for Indira Gandhi, and I wanted my gift for her to be special. Finally, I gave her the picture of me as Rama and also the best Russian sweets for her grandchildren. She held the picture, took a long look at it and said: “Atchatcha!”in this very Indian way (smiles). It was an honour for me that she spent 40 minutes talking to me despite having a very tight schedule and she gave every other guest only 15 minutes of her time. I’ve heard that there is the continuity between India and Russia. For example, the name of the longest river in Russia is Ra, which sounds similar to Rama. And Indian Vedas are similar to the Russian verb “vedat” which means “to know”. I felt close to India since my childhood. I always felt an affinity with Indian



was Natalya Guseva, a reputed Indophile, who brought us the script. She thought that Ramayana must be staged at a children’s theatre. My love affair with India began before the Second World War, much before I became an actor.When I was a child, I remember reading about those sailors who suffered a shipwreck and there was this man who helped them, this Indian prince who was a very handsome, an intelligent, educated and a kind man, who helped people.


Actor Gennady Pechnikov believes he was predestined to play the role of Ram, revered by many Indians as God, in the Russian stage adaptation of Ramayana.

mysteriousness, wisdom, beauty and kindness.

Can you tell me more about the process of working on the play? We were immersed into Ramayana like in deep waters of the ocean. At that time, I didn’t know much about Ramayana. We started to learn Indian history and epics in the process of preparing for the play. I think the difference between other religious books such as the Bible, Koran, Torah, and Ramayana is that the main character Rama was all-too-human. Rama was a warrior, a prince. In fact, he was the leader every nation would dream of. And the Indian people created an ideal. What do you find appealing in the Hindu philosophy? The harmony. Rama is from the Sun dynasty and Sita is

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the daughter of the Earth. Sun, earth and heaven do not come into conflict; it is the harmony between very different powers that is so unique in Hinduism. So when Rama fights against Ravana, all the forces of nature help him. Animals represent divine incarnations, and I believe this shows the wisdom of the Indian people.Take Hanuman, for example. He is intelligent, very creative, and he impersonates spiritual forces. By the way, speaking of Hanuman, I was talking to the first Indian astronaut Rakesh Sharma. I asked him: Who is the first Indian astronaut? He said:“I am”.I said:“No, it’s not you”. And seeing the look of surprise on his face, I announced: “It was Hanuman”. He laughed so much. Full version at

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