Piyush Goyal, the Minister of Commerce and Industry will lead an Indian delegation to the far east region of Russia. The region is dominated by China and India aims to counter balance the dragon’s influence. The delegation will include Chief Ministers of 5 BJP governed states- Yogi Adityanath from Uttar Pradesh, Vijay Rupani from Gujarat, Devendra Fadnavis from Maharashtra, Pramod Sawant from Goa and Manohar Lal from Haryana, and a representative from Assam.
PM Modi will visit Vladivostok in early September and Goyal’s visit will set the stage for some big ticket investment announcements which are to be made during Modi’s visit. The far eastern region of Russia is resource rich with an abundance of petroleum, natural gas and rare earth metals. India aims to employ its pool of cheap labor in Russian projects in fields of work like diamond processing, infrastructure and agriculture.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the chief guest at the 20th edition of Eastern Economic Forum which is to be held in Vladivostok in early September. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not happy with the growing Chinese presence the resource rich Eastern region of Russia. Putin aims to develop the Indo Pacific region in collaboration with India primarily to balance the growing Chinese influence.
The delegation would include business leaders who will look after the available investment opportunities in the Far Eastern region of Russia. The state leaders and sister provinces of Russia will look for collaboration in specific sectors. For example, the state of Uttar Pradesh is expected to sign MoUs in the field of renewable energy, agriculture and power.
Russia aims to balance the Chinese presence in the sparsely populated far eastern region. Russia has banned permanent land transfers to Chinese investors in the region and made employment of 80 per cent of local people’s population compulsory for all upcoming Chinese projects.
India aims to develop Chennai-Vladivostok sea route to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In last few years, India has been working on the International North South Transport Corridor for better maritime connectivity with Russia.
China plans to encircle India in the Indian Ocean region well understood under the ‘string of pearls’ theory. In Bangladesh, China developed and modernized the Port of Chittagong. This will give it free access to the Bay of Bengal, which is strategically very important for India’s naval security. In the Bay of Bengal, China also has presence through Myanmar’s Kyaukpyu port. Through these ports, China wants to counter India’s strong presence in the Bay of Bengal. Sri Lanka, which enjoyed warm relationship with India, has allowed a Chinese company to develop the port of Hambantota. This port will be used by both China and Sri Lanka.
India, however, is countering this through energy diplomacy. India framed the agreement to build a LNG terminal near Colombo in collaboration with Japan. Sri Lanka is dependent liquid fuels for its energy requirements. This LNG terminal will help Sri Lanka to move towards clean energy. India is also helping Bangladesh in it energy requirements.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on his recent trip to Bangladesh signed an agreement to build a petro products pipeline from Siliguri to Bangladesh. This will help India to supply diesel from its Siliguri based refinery. In Nepal India is looking to supply Nepal’s energy requirements and is building an energy products pipeline from Motihari, Bihar to Nepal. The agreement was signed on Nepal PM’s recent visit to India. To counter China’s influence in Myanmar, India is building a petro products pipeline from Northeast to Yangon. India and Myanmar are in talks about building a LNG terminal near Yangon. As far as Maldives is concerned India supplies its 100 percent energy related requirements.
Narendra Modi government does not want to make a mistake like Nehru did in 1962 and wants to be prepared in any conflict situation in future. The visit of Piyush Goyal to Russian Far East will prepare base for PM Modi visit who will be chief guest at the Eastern Economic Forum and is expected to make serious investments in the region. The growing Indian presence in the region will balance the Chinese misadventures and also help India’s ally, Russia, to control Chinese hegemony in its far east region.