15 Dec 2011

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: India and Russia cooperation has multidimensional scope

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is visiting Moscow on December 15-17, has given an interview to Interfax ahead of his visit in which he speaks about the achievements and prospects of Indian-Russian cooperation.

Question: Your Excellency, we met two years ago before your last visit to Moscow for annual summit. How do you estimate the dynamics of our relations in the ever changing international context? At least do we manage to deal together with the main challenges of today?

Answer: As I said, our relations of cooperation have a multidimensional scope. There is a growing area of identification, of new thrust areas of cooperation. We cooperate at the bilateral level. We cooperate at the regional level like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. We cooperate at BRICS. We are now all five countries members of BRICS. BRICS provides an opportunity for India and Russia along with other members of the BRICS to discuss global issues, to discuss regional issues. Therefore, in the last two years we have added fresh dimensions to the programs of cooperation between our two countries. More recently what has been happening in North Africa, West Asia, and in Afghanistan and Iran, is a matter of concern both to Russia as well as to India. Exchange of information in all these areas is of great importance to our two countries working together to deal with these new challenges that are on the horizon. In the field of global economy, the Euro zone crisis has consequences for the entire world economy. Russia and India in BRICS and other bilateral forums can work together to explore new pathways of cooperation in the face of these uncertainties in the functioning of the global economy.

Q.: The recent protest movement in Tamil Nadu has been hampering the timely start-up of Kudankulam NPP. Do you believe that it will not hinder the large scale Indian atomic energy program, including implementation of Russian-Indian plans in this sphere?

A.: The protests in Kudankulam reflect the concern among people about the safety of nuclear energy. People are also worried that such plants should not affect their livelihood and environment.
The government takes these concerns seriously. We have set up an independent group of experts to respond to all the legitimate and genuine concerns and fears of the local people.
If we have to develop nuclear energy in the country, it is essential that it is done with the support of the people. In India we are giving the highest priority to nuclear safety. I know that the Russian leadership also has the same priority and has taken several initiatives, including in the international arena, which we welcome.
As far as India-Russia cooperation in the nuclear field is concerned, this will continue, and we will fulfill our commitments. India has always regarded Russia as partner who was with us in times of difficulty and even when there were restrictions on nuclear commerce with India. I wish to thank all the Russian experts who are working with us in the Kudankulam project.

Q.: One Indian proverb says that managing 1000 people is as hard as managing 3 persons. You have to manage the country of a billion population. What is the core of your approach and what are your main principles in managing this big and great India?

A.: India is a large country of great diversity and complexity. We are an ancient civilization but a young nation characterized by a vibrant economy.
Our task in government is to lift the millions of our countrymen out of poverty and to eradicate the scourge of illiteracy, hunger and disease. Our growth has to be balanced and inclusive, benefiting all sections of our society. At the international level, India cooperates with all countries to create an atmosphere that is conducive to meeting our national goals and realizing the aspirations of our people. We strive to build peace, stability and harmony in the world.
I consider it a deep honor and privilege to have the opportunity to serve the people of India as prime minister.