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Will it spur free trade deal with India?




A cross-cultural voyager

Achala Moulik recalls growing up with Pushkin, Tagore P.07

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

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Seven parties throw their hats in ring, but experts say there is only one winner.



Russia inches closer to WTO

Parliamentary elections


corbis/foto sa

Russia India

...Marching towards a common future

New Delhi

Wednesday, november 30, 2011


Treading the middle path

read the story on PAGE 4

the group sank into deep meditation. As night fell, thousands of candles were lit. Buddhist monks visiting from Tibet, Thailand, and the US as well as Russian Buddhist regions of Buriatya Anna Nemtsova and Tuva, blessed those who rir gathered from all over Ka“Let all our wishes come true! lmykia and the neighboring Let all living creatures be free of southern regions of Russia. suffering, of danger, of diseases They sent candles flying skyand sadness! Let peace and ward in hot air balloons,illumihappiness descend on Earth!” nating the dark night sky. More than 2,000 Buddhists The ceremony, an offering of chanted the mantra, kneeling light to Buddha, was introon mats before the Golden duced to Russian Buddhists for Abode of Buddha temple in the first time as a symbolic Elista, the capital of the repub- event celebrating the launch of lic of Kalmykia, one of three the international forum,“BudBuddhist regions in Russia. dhism: Philosophy of Non-ViThey intoned words of prayer olence and Compassion”held after the Kalmyk Buddhist in Elista last month. leader,TeloTulku Rinpoche. Finally, the square grew quiet as continued on PAGE 8


Trade Joint public-private investment fund for financing key projects on its way

New bounce in business ties India and Russia have firmed up a slew of key initiatives that can take their bilateral trade to $20 billion by 2015. Olga petrova

India's S.M. Krishna with Russia's Sergei Ivanov in Moscow.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov and India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna in Moscow on Nov. 18. Ivanov and Krishna cochaired the Indo-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Technological, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) and identified four key sectors to galvanise bilateral trade and investment. Besides the fund, the two countries will set up a Joint Study Group to firm up a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with the Customs Union, which unites Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Islamic modernisation on way?

niyaz karim



A new energy and synergy has been infused into economic ties between India and Russia, as the two time-tested strategic partners embark on a host of new initiatives, including setting up of a joint publicprivate investment fund to finance key projects in both countries.The fund was one of the key outcomes to emerge from the meeting between

Buddha glows, candles fly in sky Once persecuted by Stalin, Kalmykia has resurrected from the ashes, with Buddhism emerging as a beacon of hope and solace for its distressed people.

oksana yushko

The Frolovs - Vladimir, his wife Nastya and their 5-year-old son Sergei - are a typical middle class family in Russia. They live in Tomsk, Siberia, around 3.000 km from Moscow. They are young, they belong to a generation that grew up with no memories of the Soviet Union. They may complain about the state, but they don’t expect anything from it. It is people like the Frolovs who will determine the outcome of the parliamentary polls in Russia on Dec 4, and who'll create the future of the country for the next 20-30 years. In modern society, middle class accounts for 50 to 65% of the population. What is middle class in Russia? How do they live? In this edition, RIR traces the life of the Frolovs family and the middle class in Russia.

Religion Reviving Buddhist mentality

'The Arab Spring' came as a total surprise to the world community, provoking different interpretations. What lies at the heart of these upheavals? Find out... SEE PAGE 6

continued on PAGE 2



Russia india report


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_november 30_2011

A new business chemistry The talks also saw a forward movement on a key connectivity project that has languished for long – an International North-South Corridor linking India with Russia via Iran and Central Asia to ensure speedy movement of goods and cargo. The two sides also agreed to promote economic cooperation between various regions of the two countries. If these signature initiatives are fasttracked, New Delhi and Moscow can confidently hope to achieve a bilateral trade target of $20 billion by 2015. The talks between Krishna and Ivanov have set the stage for the visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Moscow for annual summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Dec 16. The joint fund is perhaps the most important initiative that has the potential to accelerate trade and investment.The size of the planned fund for setting up projects in Indian states and Russian regions, and other modalities are yet to be worked out by the two sides. Ivanov said that India will prepare a roster of enterprises in which Russian companies may take part in modernisation efforts. “A wide array of facilities had been built in India with the participation of Soviet specialists, including industrial enterprises, which definitely are now in need of upgrades," he added. Russia has already delivered a list of Russian technological plat-

ria novosti

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Russia's gas major Gazprom eyes India as an "incredible" gas market for LNG trade.

forms to India with contact information about companies involved in related development work,”he said. Concerning the North-South Transport Corridor that has failed to take off for more than a decade, the two sides agreed to accelerate the decisionmaking process. The Indian government will organise a brain-storming international conference to discuss the NSTC and new trade routes to the former Soviet Union, including through China. Special emphasis during the talks was given to the formation of Joint Working Group on modernisation. "The JWG

on modernisation is expected to reflect the objectives of the modernisation programme launched by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev," Ajai Bisaria, joint secretary in charge of Eurasia in India’s external affairs ministry, told journalists. This group has been added to the nine JWGs already existing within the IRIGC, and is expected to boost bilateral and multilateral technological interaction with BRICS. The working group on the energy and energy efficiency reviewed issues of bilateral cooperation in this sphere. Mutually beneficial cooperation of JSC NK Ros-

neft and India’s ONGCVidesh Ltd. was cited as one of the best examples. Moreover, LNG supplies to India are growing from year to year. From 2009 to 2011, Gazprom has shipped 10 deliveries of LNG to India totaling 0.65 million tonnes. “In 2020, natural gas consumption in India will be 1.7 times more than today.The Indian market is very promising for us and we take this into consideration while planning to construct export capacities under the Eastern Gas Programme,”said Gazprom chairman Alexei Miller at a recent meeting with Ajai Malhotra, India’s ambassador in Moscow. Russia’s ministry of industry and trade and India’s ministry of chemicals and fertilisers signed a memo on cooperation in the sphere of pharmaceuticals and bio-pharmaceuticals during the IRIGC sessions. A slew of pacts in various areas of cooperation, including nuclear energy, pharmaceuticals, banking and the interaction between antitrust agencies of the two countries are expected to be signed during Manmohan Singh's visit to Moscow in December. In the educational sphere, Russia and India may also soon agree on mutual recognition of diplomas and degrees, Ivanov told journalists. The Russian side has already prepared a draft agreement, and expects a positive response from the Indian side on this issue in the near future, he said.

Radio Indian listeners of Voice of Russia will meet in New Delhi in December

Russian radio network Voice of Russia has a huge fan following in India that cuts across towns and villages. It remains a trusted source of news on Russia for Indians. Alexandr vostrov rir

"Tens of thousands of Indians regularly listen to Voice of R u s s i a , " s ay s A n d re i Bystritsky, the chairman of the Russian radio network. The upcoming Sixth All-India Conference of Listeners' Clubs of Voice of Russia on December 1-2 only goes to show In-

dians' unflinching loyalty to radio as a form of media broadcasting even in the multimedia age.“It is the only direct source of information about Russia whereas most news comes from specialised news agencies and is not always impartial and unbiased," says Bystritsky. Voice of Russia is ideal in terms of depth and credibility: it offers the latest news and developments in Russian science and culture. Among the VoR listeners are mainly intellectuals, young professionals and school-

ria novosti

Never say die: 70 years on air and going strong

Andrei Bystritsky, the chairman of the Voice of Russia radio station.

teachers. But an older generation is also part of the audience. Which makes sense: the first broadcast was aired on May 18, 1942. Radio fan clubs have mushroomed over the years. In fact, one of the most active clubs is the Kisaan Shrota Club (Club of Farmer Listeners) in the village of Barma, Bihar.Bystritsky notes that listeners' clubs all have the same aspiration: twoway communication with their favourite media.Almost all listeners' clubs consider it their duty to send letters to editors. And VoR editors manage to squeeze in an interaction with the audience in the short period of two hours FM-band broadcasting every day. Full version on Business council for cooperation with India JSC Rosoboronexport website Oil and gas industry news

in brief telecom India may join Russia in GLONASS commercial use India may become Russia`s key partner in commercial use of the global navigation satellite system, GLONASS, Russia`s Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said at the Russian-India Trade and Investment Forum in Moscow. All consumers in Russia and abroad can gain access to GLONASS on a free-ofcharge-basis. The AFK Sistema-controlled federal

operator NIS GLONASS has recently established a whollyowned Indian subsidiary, NIS Glonass Private Ltd, which plans to launch its products and services there, including equipment manufacturing, in early 2012. The company will operate out of an office in Mumbai. As of today, 24 GLONASS satellites have been placed in orbit to ensure full global coverage. RIR

defence India close to clinching second Copter contract


India is close to finalising a second contract with Russia for another 59 Mi-17V-5 tactical transport helicopters. This will be on top of an existing order for 80 Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters. The original deal worth $1.34 billion

was signed in 2008. The choppers will be delivered to India in batches, with the deal completed by 2017. The first shipment of 26 helicopters is expected to arrive in December. Confirmation is expected by the end of March next year. RIR

trade Phosagro to cut prices for 2 key Indian buyers Russian fertiliser group Phosagro has agreed to provide a discount to two key Indian buyers after a sharp fall in the rupee. Both India Potash Ltd (IPL) and the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (IFFC) will get the discount. "As part of this agreement, IPL/IFFCO has committed to purchase additional volumes of phosphate fertilizers from Phosagro and

has granted the company a seller's option on these volumes," Phosagro said. Industry officials told Reuters earlier in Mumbai that they were renegotiating import deals after the local currency lost 14% this year. "Given our long-term relationship with IPL/ IFFCO, I believe we have found an acceptable solution for all parties," Phosagro chief executive Maxim Volkov said. RIR

DEfence Gorshkov: Indian Navy pilots to train in Russia Ahead of proposed induction of Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier by end of next year, a team of 10 pilots will arrive to Russia for training in operations of MiG-29K fighter planes from the warship. India had signed a deal with Russia in 2004 for purchas-

ing the carrier along with 16 MiG 29Ks. According to the agreement between the two countries, a team of 10 pilots will be in Russia around three months before the scheduled induction of battleship in December next year, Navy officials told PTI. RIR

bookmarks Conference «Pharmaceutical Business in Russia 2012» Russia and WTO analytical website RIA Novosti business news

Russia india report

Business Indian pharma magnate has big plans: $150 million turnover by 2015

'Shed conservative style, take risks and score big' elena krovvidi

nikolay korolev


Russia-educated Indian entrepreneur Vikram Singh Punia at his office in Moscow.

foray into the burgeoning Russian pharmaceutical market, there are some peculiarities that should be taken into account. "Firstly, Indian partners sometimes display a conservative approach and are reluctant to make direct investments as they are afraid of risks,” he explains. "And that's where our company comes into the game acting as an intermediary." He attributes the success of his enterprise to his penchant for taking risks and moving ahead. Besides, there are sometimes delays and difficulties in getting visas and permission to work in Russia that create impediments for the Indian companies’ activities in the Russian pharmaceutical market, he says. But being an optimist, he adds that those obstacles can be overcome provided one has enough patience and persistence. Singh distinctly remembers

his first steps in the pharma business in Russia.“Indeed, 1997 - the year when I started my business - was a tough time for the country and especially for launching a new enterprise." In those days, many people, he recalls, simply couldn’t understand his decision to invest so much money in the production of medicines. “They asked me: why can't you just follow the example of some other businessmen and simply buy from abroad and resell?" he says. But Singh decided to take the plunge and started to produce anti-tuberculosis drugs in 1999 right after the severe economic crisis of 1998. To begin with, he opened two factories in Irkutsk. Currently, 80% of anti-tuberculosis medicines are produced in Russia. Singh is confident that medicines related to oncology and diabetes, which are mostly imported by Russia at the moment, are

to follow suit soon. No wonder, Singh is upbeat about Pharmasynthez’s plan to scale the turnover to $150 million by 2015 from $100 million. Singh’s business success has an interesting personal backstory. In the 1990s, he was not sure of permanently residing in Russia and making his career here. He shares his memories of having entered the medical college in Delhi and then deciding to study in Russia without making longterms plans to stay in this country. However, fate had other plans. His marriage during his second year at the Irkutsk medical institute, combined with his intense dislike for heat, he adds half-jokingly, sealed his decision to start pharma business in Russia. The entrepreneur is also upbeat about the encouraging attitude of both Indian and Russian governments about developing pharma industry.



Russia’s WTO entry: What’s in it for India? Dadan Upadhyay


When Vikram Singh Punia entered pharma business in Russia in 1997, there were sceptical sniggers. He now heads a thriving company, with ambitious growth plans.

Pharmaceutical industry topped the list of subject discussed during the recent 5th Indo-Russian trade and investment forum in Moscow. “And it's not surprising,”says Vikram Punia Singh, the head of pharmaceutical company Pharmasynthez.“I think this event helps us not only to find business partners, but also produces concrete results. Previously, it helped us to launch the production of medications for treating oncological diseases,” says Singh, an Indian businessman who is making a mark in Russia’s business landscape. The Indian pharmaceutical industry has seen rapid advancement of new technologies, stressed Singh, who has worked in the pharma business for 15 years. Educated in the Irkutsk Medical Institute, Singh believes that sharing the experience of Indian chemists and technologists can be useful for the Russian market. He points that the price of generic medicines made by Russian producers are several times higher than the Indian ones. But while keeping pace with the fast progress of new technologies, he says, it’s essential to make the best usage of the drugs already in production.“Although innovations are important, we shouldn’t forget that 90% of diseases can be cured using existing medications,” he points out. Singh stresses that although Indian companies are keen to


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_november 30_2011


inally, there is light at the end of the tunnel for Russia after nearly two decades of torturous negotiations for its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The turning point came on Nov 3 when Russia clinched a bilateral trade deal with its neighbour Georgia. Russia, with a GDP of $1.9-trillion, is by far the largest economy outside the WTO and its accession to the world trade body would mark the biggest step in world trade liberalisation since China joined it in early 2000. The World Bank has estimated the WTO membership could add three percent to Russia's economy in the medium term and upto 11 percent in the long term. With Moscow's entry into the world trade body almost certain by next month, one may ask how it will impact the prospects of India-Russia economic ties. Russia's entry will open the way for the two countries to sign a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which is expected to give a great boost to bilateral trade by providing greater market access for the partners. “We will revisit the subject for the CECA. India is very desirous of taking the next step,”India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told Indian journalists on the sidelines of the 5th Indo-Russian Trade and Investments Forum in Moscow on Nov. 10. “Once Russia becomes a WTO member, we will negotiate CECA. It is on our agenda,” he said. “It (CECA) will definitely improve the access for Indian companies to the Russian market through lower tariffs. It creates a better environ-

ment, depending on the sectoral strength and interests in those sectors,”said Sharma. Bilateral trade between the two countries, which touched $8.5 billion in 2010, has grown three-fold since 2005, but has a long way to go to achieve $20 billion target for 2015. India and Russia signed an MoU in February, 2006, to set up a Joint Study Group (JSG) to assess the feasibility of signing CECA between the two countries. The CECA is much wider in scope than a FTA as it not only includes goods, but also services and investment. The JSG has already prepared a roadmap for achieving a significant increase in bilateral trade by diversifying and strengthening relations in diverse areas, specially trade in

Moscow's WTO entry will open doors for CECA with India and greater access to each other's markets. goods, services, investment and economic cooperation. The two sides also set up a Joint Task Force (JTF) to monitor the implementation of the JSG report with the ultimate goal of concluding the CECA when Russia joins the WTO. Indian pharmaceutical companies, in particular, are very excited about Russia's accession to the world trade body, which is expected to facilitate sales of innovative drugs in the domestic market and increase its investment attractiveness. After Russia joins the organization, the data exclusivity regime aimed at protecting the data of pre-clinical and clinical trials of innovative drugs will start working locally. Dadan Upadhyay is a senior Indian journalist based in Moscow.

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income & living the middle class they are fighting for jobs, a small apartment and a spot in kindergarten for their children

Home truths & small dreams Nastya

Mobility hurdle A new job in another city could lead to more money and better life for people like Frolov. With his talent, he would do much better in the dynamic region around Leningrad. But due to his loan, he is bound to Tomsk. Such barriers, as well as administrative procedures,

prevent an exchange between the regions and an efficient distribution of the workforce. In Russia, only six out of 1,000 move to a new city each year. In the US, that figure is four times as high. A lack of mobility thrusts many Russian families into poverty.

Taxes, loans, corruption Many Russian companies are fighting the same problem: a vicious circle of high tax rates/ interest, protectionism and corruption. Due to the same, it is unfeasible for Vladimir’s company to modernise every-

gaia russo

oksana yushko

Nastya has similar dreams, but she would be happy with her two kids. Her goals are more pragmatic: she wants her son to go to kindergarten and then to work.Therein lies an additional, serious problem for the family, in many regions, some 10,000 kids are waiting to get into kindergarten (In Russia, that figure is 1.5 million according to the Russian Ministry of Health). With a serious demographic crisis looming, the government is actively campaigning for more children, but there is no infrastructure to support them. Many kindergarten buildings from the Soviet era have been leased as office space, and incredibly strict regulations for registering child facilities prevent the creation of private kindergartens. Whenever it does finally work out with a spot in kindergarten, Nastya would like to work in the social services sector. She would like to A picture of middle-class happiness: Floral wallpaper, burgers, doting parents... earn 20,000 roubles, but would settle for 15,000 ($500). The new middle class in 10,000 roubles, roughly $330, Frolovs depends on the com- Vladimir and Nastya are a Russia does not complain which even for Tomsk was not pany’s success. After taking part of a new generation, they about the government, nor much. But he stayed on, and the loan rate of 8,25%, the don’t complain about the about fate; they work hard to not only because love kept him Frolovs have roughly $860 left. government and try to solve fashion their future and make there. His company offered the Vladimir is the sole earner be- everything by themselves. their dreams real. promising, young engineer a cause Nastya started pursuing But the health system cercompany loan with no interest a second degree and takes care tainly does get on their nerves, Andrei Molodych, Filipp for 25 years, which he used to of raising Sergey. Food costs something on which they Tschapkovski purchase a one-bedroom are somewhere around $200 a agree with a vast majority of Russian Reporter magazine apartment in a modern build- month.“Everything else has to Russians. A typical courtyard in Tomsk: ing on the river.The only catch be split between child, clothes, Nastya’s idea of a good life is surrounded by five storey was that if he were to be fired culture and everything else,” a trip to Sevastopol, where tower blocks and in the dis- or quit not only would the saysVladimir. she has relatives. Then, she tance, through the poplars, loan be payable immediately, Not surprisingly, he is not very would like to go to Egypt to you can just start to make out but he would also have to pay upbeat about his future. To see the pyramids, then Thaithe wooden houses of the old interest on everything he had have any sense of security, land and finally Germany, betown, withered by time. borrowed up to that point. Vladimir says he needs at least cause Vladimir has said lots Vladimir is, therefore, bound $1500 a month, but to receive of good things about it. What Vladimir higher wages, productivity this family needs is to get out to the company for 25 years. The Frolovs are a typical fam- Vladimir, however, does not must increase, which in turn, of their home. But since the ily from the new, ambitious find the deal unfair.“Maybe can only happen if the equip- parents have no one to look middle class. Near a modern we are dependent. But that’s a ment in Vladimir’s plant is after the child, they pretty block tower,Vladimir greets small price to pay for our own modernised. “Sometimes, I much never go out. us. He is 28 and his wife Nas- apartment.” visit Germany on business, tya is 22.They came from close Vladimir was lucky. The ma- and there people try to use as The friendly Company to Tomsk in Siberia, a city jority of young Russian fami- many German products as Vladimir constantly comsome 3,000 kilometres east of lies cannot afford a loan, nei- possible. We need that same mutes between the office and the plant.What would happen Moscow with a population of ther from a bank nor from mentality in Russia,”he says. if Vladimir had an accident at 500,000. He attended the poly- their employer,one more reatechnic university, and she the son more why only 15% of all The conscientious citizen the plant? Would the loan be pedagogical institute. After real estate in Russia is ac- What's Vladimir's idea of a payable? Suddenly,Vladimir his studies were completed, quired via financial assis- good life? That would be a becomes happier.“We do not house on the outskirts of town have to worry about that. If Vladimir began working for tance. and three kids.The only prob- something were to happen, an the electro-mechanics plant lem for this typical Russian insurance company would pay in Tomsk. It is here that he met Life and work his wife Nastya when one day The electro-mechanics plant citizen is that he has no dream. my loan.”That too would cost she asked for his help with a inTomsk fabricates air purify- To put it more accurately, his a few roubles." As we depart, technical drawing.They mar- ing turbines for subways. dream of an apartment has al- he pauses and says,“to be perried, and soon after their son Today, there are six of these ready come true. and he still fectly honest, I am incredibly turbines in subway stations in has 22 years to go, before he lucky. Millions of Russians are Sergey was born. probably jealous of me.” Vladimir’s starting salary was Moscow. The future of the has paid off his loan.

thing at once. However, if the proper equipment is lacking, then the productivity suffers, thus forcing clients to take their business elsewhere. Obsolete facilities remain a major problem. Ria Novosti news agency The Moscow Times newspaper Online newspaper

What’s middle in Russia? Even after ten years of economic boom, the Russian middle class is difficult to grasp. The Ministry of Economic Development recently unveiled a study which gives some facts and figures. It shows that the middle class in Russia comprises only 20-25% of the population. Nearly 5-6 years ago, the figure was 18%, and by 2020 it won’t exceed 30%. In Western countries, the middle class comprises 50-65% of the population. A typical Russian middle class family earns at least $2000, but the total income includes money from all family members. The family has a car, bank savings and a house/ apartment. Middle class in Russia are mostly people who are related to currency and financial sector, oil and gas, natural monopolies, such as electricity and rail transport. People engaged in intellectual labor, health and education often can’t be related to the middle class because of their law income or are placed at the bottom of this social strata.

Russia india report


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_november 30_2011


Polls Freebie promises: land, power, 1 million rouble credit

Voters' choice: 7 parties and 1 sure winner The number of parties contesting the Duma polls and the margin of United Russia's victory aren't known yet. But everything else is as predictable as it can get. Evgeny Utkin rir

The Russians will be voting for a new Duma (Chamber of Deputies) on December 4. Yet only a few outside Russia know about this. Focused on their domestic affairs, people are not interested much in foreign politics. If we ask an average Indian,when the next Russian elections will be, the best answer one might get is“Putin’s elections”(meaning the presidential elections next year). It is very unlikely that anyone will know what is happening in the Duma,“the thinking place”in Russian. The upcoming elections will, however, be the most interesting for Russians, because they will present some uncertainties. The first is one is not sure how many parties will enter the parliament.Three parties,United Russia, the Communist Party (CPRF) and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) will surely gain seats in parliament, yet the fate of A Just Russia is still uncertain. After its leader Sergey Mironov left office as president of the Federation Council (the Russian Senate), this party lost administrative resources and appeal.While the first three parties are well positioned (even in the voters’ minds): at the centre, we find the ruling party, United Russia; on the left – the communist opposition and, on the right, the nationalist liberal-democrats, with the slogan“Russia for the Russians”. A Just Russia wanted to be a strong opposition,but they have not managed to do this or feared they would lose votes by doing so.The net result is that that they are now somewhere between the Communists and United Russia. The rising star among Russian parties, Pravoe Delo (Right Cause), faded out long before the Duma elections. Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, currently the third richest man in Russia, left the project. Two other parties, Yabloko (“apple”in Russian) and Patriots of Russia (both liberal and right-wing) do not have a clear line for the voters and have little chance of entering Parliament. The other thing to watch out for will be whether the Putin-Medvedev party



The parties' leaders hold pre-election TV debates.

will have a majority in parliament. Last year, the party’s approval rating dropped below 50%, and, according to several surveys, it is hovering around the same figure at the moment (Levada-Center suggests an even lower figure of 45%).The ruling party is losing consensus among retired workers and

Duma polls present some uncertainties. One is not sure how many parties will enter the parliament. The other thing to watch out for will be whether PutinMedvedev party will get a majority. members of the military forces, but is still the favourite among women.According to the“Public Opinion”Foundation (POF), the ratio of United Russia supporters between men and women stands at 36-64. According to POF president Alexander Oslon, this is because women possess a strong“motivation to support the powers that be”,while other observers think that men and women play two different roles: for women it is important to“preserve stability”,while men are more inclined towards “risk and change”.According to POF, support is also growing among young people.“Young people, especially girls, know only Vladimir Putin and United Russia,”says sociologist Sergei Belanovsky. Or, probably, the

real reason is the active use of social network sites by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The target of the party guided by Medvedev is nevertheless to obtain 60% of the votes or at least half of them.A reasonable wish,but it has been years since a single party won half the electoral votes without resorting to coalitions in any country of the world. All parties have very broad programmes. There are problems with housing – the parties will solve them.Yabloko suggests giving everybody 3,000-6,000 square metre of land to build a house and that “oil and gas profits”should be used to build infrastructure, roads, to give people free water, electricity and gas and to pay 2/3 of housing costs. The LDPR wants to give a hectare of land, free infrastructures and a 1-millionrouble credit to everyone.After all these promises, United Russia’s goal of doubling house building and lowering mortgage interest rates to 6.5% (now over 10%) seems even modest. Everyone promises to raise salaries, even by 50%, in 3 years (United Russia), or to put 60% of the GDP into salaries. If we add up the costs of all the promises made by the seven Russian parties, we would not reach the value of the Italian debt but we would easily outstrip that of Greece. But Russian voters believe in promises; 4% think everything will be done, 69% at least part of it. And they are all sure that their lives will get better. Read more at



Russia india BUSINESS report in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE economic times wednesday_november 30_2011

bookmarks Johnson’s Russia List Analysis of business, economic, political and cultural trends Strategic Culture Foundation magazine

cal system would follow Sharia principles, including polygamy and a ban on vorce. All this is taking place he so-called "Arab Spring” against a background of growcame as a total surprise ing popularity of the Muslim to the world community. Brothers in Egypt. At first glance, there was some- If one looks at developments thing unnatural about the sud- in the Arab countries from the den and simultaneous anti-dic- viewpoint of their internal tatorship upheavals in several historical evolution, it is clear Arab countries around the that the current events are a same time. The proclaimed logical and inevitable stage, democratic goals bred suspi- necessitated by an objective cions that the fighters against dictatorship were acting at the behest of or on a signal from the West, suspicions that were further reinforced by the co- What is happening in alition’s messy adventure in Arab East is a natural Libya. strengthening of At the same time, the fact that Islamic parties were openly local, religious and and actively involved in these ethnic traditions. movements generated panicky forecasts of an imminent need for national self-identitriumph by Al Qaeda and fu- fication. The process was artiture aggression on the part of ficially held back in the 19th the Islamic world. Indeed, the and 20th centuries by Europevictory of the Islamic party in an colonisation of the entire the Tunisian parliamentary Muslim belt from North Afrielections shortly after the fall ca to Southeast Asia. Herein of the dictatorship came as a lay the contradiction of the surprise, while Libya an- post-colonial statehood of the nounced that its future politi- Muslim countries: having Boris Tumanov


evolved and become entrenched under the influence of former mother countries, they could not, a priori, accord with the mentality, traditions and social patterns or, to put it simply, with the national identities of the local societies. A more convincing precedent is offered by Turkey, which lived under the democracy instituted by Kemal Ataturk according to Western templates for a whole century before it turned out that democracy had been effective only thanks to the stern oversight of the army, which eventually lost its political influence under the onslaught of advocates of Turkey’s Islamic identity. Today, the time has now come to modify that statehood in accordance with the long-simmering demand for national self identification, which includes a religious element. If European democracy, in its time, was rooted in Christian morality, why should Islam and other religious countries be deemed incapable of giving an impetus to democracy with “its own face”? What is happening in the Arab

niyaz karim

The Arab Spring: Return of local, Islamic identity?

East is not so much a denial of Western, essentially Christian values as a natural strengthening of local religious, ethnic and ethical traditions by legitimising them. Those who had expected the Arabs, for example, in the face of globalisation, to build their societies according to European templates were simply naïve, not to say ignorant. It is hard to say how aggressive the emerging independent and self-sufficient Islamic world will be.The quest for self-identification might result in a

“modernistion”of Islam and the Islamic political culture. Yet, if that process is carried through to its logical conclusion, we will inevitably witness another world split. And what of Russia? Its authorities have reacted to the “Arab Spring” in an equally panicky way, being apparently convinced that Russian society could follow the example of the Egyptians and Tunisians. But no one seems to have noticed that the processes going on in our country’s Muslim republics are basically the

same as those that preceded the “Arab Spring.”They, too, are seeking national-cultural and religious identity. Politicians and the Orthodox Church are making statements from which it follows that the restoration of Russian national traditions and Orthodox morality constitutes the only way to restore Russia’s identity as a state. Thus, they turn the logical and natural search for national identity by the peoples of Russia into an ethnic and inter-religious confrontation.

India adrift: Goodbye nehru, hello America? Andrei Volodin


specially for RIR

n early October of 2000, I happened to take part in a conference in New Delhi on security issues in the Asia-Pacific Region. At that forum, Indian expats in the US did their best to convince participants that America is India’s preeminent strategic ally. At the time, I regarded this as the aspiration of a part of the Indian elite to establish new foreign policy guidelines for the world’s largest democracy while also keeping the traditional ones intact. I could be overly suspicious, but increasingly I am convinced that the “Nehruvian”foreign policy is being dismantled, and if we still consider ourselves friends, we need to discuss these sensitive matters candidly.

Aren’t we indeed witnessing a gradual rejection of the idea of a multi-polar/polycentric world? Isn’t India’s foreign policy establishment using China’s rapid economic growth as ideological grounds for abandoning its independent orientation in the global geo-strategic space? India has invariably promoted strengthening the security system in the region that the Americans call “Greater Central Asia,” which includes South and Central Asia, in addition to Afghanistan and Iran. Until recently, New Delhi was an active proponent of the idea that the countries in this region should be the ones tackling its complicated problems. It seems to me that India’s position has lately undergone a metamorphosis that is hard to explain. At a recent forum in Istanbul, India appeared to

support the American idea of a “new Silk Road,”which is intended to maintain a“balancing”influence of out-of-region forces. There are several other problematic questions as well. First of all, the resurrection of the idea of an“alliance of four

ondly, it's not clear how India plans to marry vigorous economic growth, the goal of 9% economic growth for the next decade, as set by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, with active rearmament under the current Indian circumstances.

India's position on various issues has lately undergone a metaphorphosis that is hard to explain.

Russia needs to pause a little regarding India while developing relations with China.

democracies”(the US, Japan, Australia, and India) – an American-Japanese-Indian “strategic dialogue”being its initial phase – is beginning to seriously worry Beijing, which calls this concept nothing other than an“Eastern NATO.” Sec-

Thirdly, the new political thinking in India bewilders those in the Russian leadership who have adopted the multivector foreign policy model as part of their idea of Russia’s international role. A friend of mine at the Russian Foreign

Ministry, who is trying to grasp the logic of India’s behaviour with regard to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, confided to me:“I just can’t understand our Indian colleagues. We are doing our best to welcome them with open arms,but it seems like they are gently pushing us away. Perhaps they have already made their strategic choice in favour of America?” Frankly, I couldn’t succeed in convincing the diplomat otherwise. Apparently, Russia needs to pause a little regarding its relations with India while developing relations with both China and South Asian countries based on our strategic interests. Which brings to mind comments by former Indian diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar: "At a time when Europe is in disarray and America is in decline, "China isn’t bothered about In-

dia’s ‘military modernisation’ programme… It also seems to understand our compulsions to exaggerate the ‘threat perceptions’ so as to justify the massive military expenditure at a time when the economy is on a distinctly downward slide and we face a‘resource crunch’very soon. In brief… Beijing estimates that this is a superfluous, contrived path and India will realise it on its own.” The strength and vitality of the “Nehru course”lie in the fact that India’s first prime minister always played his own game and always defended Indian interests.Time has shown that this is the only“policy game” that will always be both effective and up to date. Andrei Volodin is Senior Researcher with the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Moscow.

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

bookmarks Pushkin's poems in English with Russian texts alongside the translation. Russian literature in English translation.

Russia india report


in association with rossiyskaya gazeta, russia THE times of india wednesday_november 30_2011


Heritage Heralds of literary renaissance, Pushkin defied Tsarist establishment, Tagore returned the British knighthood

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In a vast hall illumined by massive chandeliers, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently presented Pushkin Medals to foreigners who had contributed to the understanding of Russian culture in their countries. This silver medal with blue ribbons is embossed with the self portrait of iconic Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Watching the glittering ceremony held in the picturesque town of Nizhni Novgorod was Prime MinisterVladimir Putin. Sitting by his side were high dignitaries of the Russian Orthodox Church, an Imam, high Russian officials, diplomats, and interpreters.The ceremony was meticulously planned and conducted, preceded and followed by stirring music, songs and folk dance. It was with a sense of fulfilment that I received the Pushkin Medal from the Russian president on November 4. As I said in my brief address, I was a humble traveller on the road that joined India and Russia, where great Russians such as Lev Tolstoy,VassilyVershagin, Gerasim Lebedev and numerous Indologists had contributed to understanding India while the two greatest Indians of our age – RabindranathTagore and Mahatma Gandhi were great admirers of Russian culture and philosophy. Tagore’s Letters From Russia introduced me to that fascinating country. I read it when I was a little girl; while many of the passages on history and social reconstruction went over my head, I learnt through Gurudev’s eloquent but simple language that there was a country far away, a land of snow and forests, inhabited by

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Achala Moulik

courageous people.Reading the Letters many decades later, I learnt that the aristocratic landowner Rabindranath was deeply impressed by the new socio-political experiment in the Soviet Union. He was critical of some aspects of that experiment but it was with rapture that he described the Russian people. He had called Tolstoy “the teacher of mankind”and stressed thatTolstoy’s voice against violence and oppression was“crying out in the wilderness”.Mahatma Gandhi was influenced byTolstoy’s doctrine of non-violent resistance to injustice, and called him his “Guru”. My interest in Russia deepened with the years. As a school girl in London, I began learning the Russian language in various evening classes that offered instruction. One day, I decided to go to a place called Pushkin Club where young people met to discuss Russian letters and events. Genuine students and scholars attended the classes while others posed as nihilists and revolutionaries. Fearing that I might turn to nihilism,my parents ensured that I had Russian lessons in a more conventional environment.Later,when I studied Economics at London University, I began reading Pushkin and other Russian writers. My study of and writing on Russian history, literature and music continued even after entering the Indian Administrative Service. Both Pushkin and Tagore were heralds of a literary renaissance in their countries.After elegant preludes, modern Russian literature began as a full symphony with Alexander Sergeyvich Pushkin. He was born when the French revolutionary armies swept through Europe, sowing the seeds of future revolts that would blossom into the Decembrist Revolt in Russia.Pushkin’s poems inspired the leaders of the uprising. Sometimes banished, often persecuted by the Tsarist officialdom, Pushkin

Pushkin and Tagore: Poets who fired the imagination of people.

About the author

‘A humble traveller on the road joining India and Russia’ Achala Moulik held important posts in Karnataka and Union ministries and institutions in India. But literature and dramatics always remained her passion. Born in Kolkata in family of scholars, civil servants and diplomats, Moulik, a former Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, is the author of more than 20 books on culture, art and architectural monuments. Since 1976, when “Silhouettes of Russian Literature”, Moulik’s first book dedicated to the treasures of the Russian literature, was published, the author has been enthralled by this subject. Moulik's “Pushkin’s Last Poem” made a successful debut in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the Year of India in Russia in October 2009. September 2010 saw the publication of the author's seminal research work entitled, “Tolstoy’s Century in the Indian Perspec-

never ceased to extol ideas of liberty, both for the individual and nations.But his inspiration transcended political ideologies; he drew sustenance from Russian people, both high and humble, from stirring events and challenges of the past. Tagore was born when India, like Russia, was experiencing internal ferment and external

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Author Achala Moulik, who was awarded the Pushkin Medal recently, recalls the profound influence the Russian iconic poet and Tagore had on her thinking.

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Growing up with Pushkin and Tagore in my blood and bones

tive”. In 2010-11, she wrote “Rabindranath Tagore: A Man for All Times.” A chapter in the book focuses upon a comprehensive historical and literary analysis of Tagore’s “Letters from Russia.” The award ceremony was held in Nizhniy Novgorod on November 4, 2011. Moulik's profound insight into foreign cultures have imparted a distinctive character to her writing.

stimulus. While British rule brought many inequities,it also exposed Indians toWestern science, medicine and technology. Tagore, like Pushkin, enthusiastically embraced new ideas from the West. Nevertheless, both poets drew inspiration from their own people and from their historical and cultural traditions. Pushkin com-

posed epic poems on Russian history such as Boris Godunov, Bronze Horseman and Tagore captured heroic deeds of the past in his anthology Katha o Kahini. The two poets shared another similarity; they were both artists. Pushkin’s sketches and drawings, caricatures of himself and others can be seen in his house by the canal in St. Petersburg. Sometimes, he drew them on the margins of manuscripts. Tagore began by doodling, which formed patterns on his manuscripts from which portraits emerged. Both men belonged to the landed gentry and could have led comfortable and secure lives had they accepted the political scenario. But they condemned the abuse of power. Pushkin’s defiance of the powerfulTsarist establishment eventually led to the court intrigue that resulted in his untimely death. Tagore opposed the partition of Bengal in 1905 and returned the British knighthood after the massacre of Jalianwala Bagh in 1919. After the participants of the Decembrist Revolt were exiled to Siberia Pushkin wrote In the depth of Siberian mines, Keep the proud patience, The heavy chains will fall, The prison doors will open outside. In his letter to the BritishViceroy, Tagore stated the reasons for renouncing the knighthood -“in order to give voice to the protest of millions of my countrymen suppressed into a dumb anguish of terror.”

Pushkin was inspired by Marya Rayevskaya with whom he fell in love as a 22-year-old youth during his exile in the Caucasus. It is not clear why they did not get married. This extraordinary woman was the model for many of his heroines. He paid her this tribute in his last poem The memory of words last spoken By you, and your sad wilderness, Have been my only sacred token, Sole refuge and ultimate redress. Tagore fell in love with his sister-in-law Kadambari in his youth. She inspired the young poet’s blossoming genius and acted as a catalyst to his creativity. He wrote poignantly“with her suicide, it felt as if the earth had moved away from under my feet and the light had gone from the sky.” Pushkin is the most loved of all literary figures in Russia. His popularity has withstood changes in political ideology, social systems and literary styles.It has been said ofTagore that there is no episode in human existence that he has not described in his soul-stirring poems.Though both poets were ardent nationalists, they attained universality because of their intense humanism, and their gift for understanding the human predicament. Their themes on human destiny will always be relevant. Alexander Pushkin and Rabindranath Tagore are perennial inspirations for me.





IN ASSOCIATION WITH ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, RUSSIA THE TIMES OF INDIA WEDNESDAY_NOVEMBER 30_2011 Russian buddism in the Internet Buddism in Kalmykia Buryat buddist culture Moscow buddist centre

Buddha glows, candles float in air A phoenix rises from the ashes Kalmyk Buddhists had to bear the brunt of Stalin’s terror tactics in the 1930s. Every religion was persecuted under Soviet policies, but Buddhism experienced almost a total destruction. By 1941, all Buddhist monasteries and temples had been closed or destroyed; the most outstanding members of the Buddhist elite were executed or disappeared in concentration camps. A second wave of repressions took place in 1943 when about one third of Kalmyks were taken from their homes and sent to Siberia.

Buddhism in Kalmykia,” he says. But there are areas where neither the Dalai Lama nor his followers have power to help. On one of his visits to Kalmykia, Barry Kerzin, a Buddhist doctor from Philadelphia, said he was shocked by the problems local doctors faced.“The entire hospital, including the surgery rooms, had no running water that day,” he said. This year, local



Traditionally, Buddhism is the main religion in republics of Buryatia, Kalmykia, The Tyva, Altai Republic, Zabaykalsky Krai and Irkutsk Oblast (all of them in Siberia except Kalmykia). Buddhism came to Russia in the 17th century; in 1764, it was officially accepted as one of the state religions. Today, there are approximately 1.4 million Buddhists in Russia, comprising 1 percent of the population. In 1979, the Dalai Lama made his first visit to the Soviet Union. After 1994, the Dalai Lama was received enthusiastically when he visited Russia’s three Buddhist republics. But as Moscow’s trade with China became increasingly important after 2004, Russia stopped giving visas to Dalai Lama.

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Tibetan monks came to Kalmykia to bless the temple.

activists criticised the authorities for not finishing the reconstruction of the republic’s only children’s hospital. This month, about 300 successful Kalmyks, calling themselves “a partisan Internet movement”,wrote a letter to the US President Barack Obama asking him to restore the decrepit hospital.The letter was also designed to shame the Russian federal government and call attention to their plight.

Kalmykia has not seen any bounty, nor promises of any infrastructure from deals that Royal Dutch Shell signed this year for the exploration of oil fields on the steppe. Major discoveries have been made in nearby Kazakhstan, also on the Caspian Sea. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a former Kalmyk president, was on hand for the recent ceremonies. He stepped down in 2010. He said that the teachings of

Buddhism he supported during his rule saved Kalmykia from getting involved in the terrorist wars in the neighboring North Caucasus republics. “The peaceful and kind philosophy of Buddhism is a solution for Kalmyk people in the chaos and hard reality they live in,”says Zhironkina. Anna Nemtsova is a Moscow correspondent for Newsweek and "The Daily Beast."

Bhutan gets treat of Buddhist relics from Russia On November 24, the exhibition “Buddhism in Russia” was opened in the city of Thimphu – the first Russian exhibition in the Himalayan kingdom. EVGENIA LENTS JOURNALIST

The exhibition formally opened at a ceremony in the J.Nehru-Wangchuck Cultural Centre. L.M. Dorji, Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan, O.P. Neretin, head

of the Russian delegation and others participated in the event.The exhibition has several sections and presents 3D holographic pictures of Buddhist relics given as a gift to Eemperor Nicholas the Second, archival photographs of the 19th century as well as recent photos of Buddhist monasteries in Russia. Read more at

The entrance to the Buddhism exhibition in Thimphu.

in The Economic Times

WEBSITE of the embassy of the Russian Federation in India


Slide Show at


Despite objections from China, a group of 30 Tibetan monks from the Gyudmed Monastery, assigned by the Dalai Lama, descended to bless the republic’s main temple and 17 sculptures of Tibetan Buddhist scientists inside. At the ceremony, the candle kites formed a path of light in the pitch-dark sky. “That is our white road,” somebody whispered in the crowd.“Have a white road”-- is how people traditionally greet each other in Kalmykia. It’s a fitting wish for people in this poor region, stuck in sandy steppe as flat as a pancake. The republic of Kalmykia, home to over 300,000 people, have revived the traditional philosophy and culture of Tibetan Buddhism, giving them hope and spiritual sustenance. The religion was adopted by their predecessors, the Oirat tribes in Mongolia, in the 13th century and imported to the Russian empire when Oirats migrated there in 1609. All Buddhist prayer houses, temples and holy relics were brutally destroyed during Stalin’s repressions of the 1930s. The entire indigenous Kalmyk population spent 17 years in exile in Siberia. Today, Kalmykia is the second poorest region in Russia, after Ingushetia.Visiting Kalmykia last March, President Dmitry Medvedev called the situation “difficult”,as the 15% unemployment rate in Kalmykia was twice as high as the national average. Buddhism teaches tolerance and kindness, so Kalmyks have learned to cope with their harsh realities.“We have seen it much worse,”Yevdokiya Kutsayeva, 84, said, while recalling savagery of the Stalin era. Until the late 1980s, it was dangerous for Kutsayeva and her family to light a candle for Buddha, much less send one into the sky in a hot air balloon. To Kutsayeva’s joy, Kalmykia has built 55 new Buddhist prayer homes and 30 temples in the past decade. “That is all we have left to make people happy and peaceful today,” said Alexander Nemeyev, a local businessman. Nemeyev pointed at the

golden statue of Buddha in the temple that he had built for his village, Ulduchiny, two years ago. He spent about $41,000, or 1,230 thousand roubles. On a recent weekend, about 100 Buddhists came to pray together with Tibetan monks visiting the republic. Not everybody in the village participated in the ceremony. “The temple is not giving me food for my two children,”said Khondor, a 47-year-old widower and an electrician, showing his modest two-room house that he shares with his two teenage children. Khondor said he was proud to be one of two people who had full-time jobs in Ulduchiny. Khondor’s children, Aveyash, 14, and Nagaila, 13, said their dream was to leave Kalmykia, perhaps by going to study in Moscow or St. Petersburg. Their father did not mind this goal, as he saw no future for them in the republic, he said. Kalmyk Buddhist leaders say that today, their efforts are not only towards rebuilding temples, something supported by the government, but also aimed at the revival of Buddhist mentality and culture, along with basic secular ethics like compassion, love, kindness and forgiveness. Exhausted after two decades of economic and social crises, Kalmyks often come to the republic’s main temple, or Central Hurul, saying,“my soul is damaged, please help me,”the Buddhist leader, Telo Tulku Rinpoche, said.“In a way, we are a spiritual, psychological center giving people hope, moral support and spiritual guidance.” According toYulia Zhironkina, director of the Moscowbased Save Tibet Foundation, Telo Tulku Rinpoche has become Russia’s major spiritual leader for Buddhists.“He goes to India to consult the Dalai Lama about most of his important decisions for Kalmykia education and cultural programmes,”says Zhironkina. Kalmykia is one of the 19 Russian regions introducing experimental programmes on basic ethics for the 4th and 5th grades at Russian state schools.“The Dalai Lama consulted Telo Tulku Rinpoche about the concept for the school history and basics of




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