Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched ‘Act Far East’ policy and asserted that India will walk shoulder-to-shoulder with Russia in its development of the Far East as he announced a $ one billion line of credit for the development of the resource-rich region.
Addressing the plenary session of the 5th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Modi said the friendship between India and Russia was not restricted to governmental interactions in capital cities, but was about people and close business relations.
India’s connection to Russia’s Far East go back a long way. India was the first country to open a Consulate in Vladivostok, he said as he recalled that even during Soviet Russia when there was restrictions on other foreigners, Vladivostok was open for Indians. “For the development of Far East, India will give line of credit worth $ 1 billion. My government has actively engaged East Asia as part of its ‘Act East’ policy. I firmly believe that today’s announcement will add a new dimension to the economic diplomacy of the two countries,” Modi said at a packed house in Vladivostok.
He was the Chief Guest at the Eastern Economic Forum. In many ways India’s presence and involvement in sparsely populated Russian Far East as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy will balance Chinese presence in this region of Russia on the Pacific coast.
The Prime Minister, in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, also unveiled the “Act Far East” policy to boost India’s engagement with Russia’s Far East region. “Let us deepen the bond between India and Russia even further. India is proud of the achievements of the Indian diaspora. I am sure here in the Russian Far East too the Indian diaspora will make an active contribution towards the region’s progress,” Modi suggested.
“India is a proud and active participant in the various activities of the Eastern Economic Forum. Participation has come from top levels of government and industry.”
In his address Modi appreciated the vision of President Vladimir Putin for the welfare for Russia’s Far East, saying the the President has opened up investment opportunities for India in the region. “By declaring the development of the Russian Far East a ‘national priority for the 21st century’, President Putin has taken a holistic approach towards improving everything ranging from economy, education, health to sports, culture or communication,” the PM said amid presence of PMs of Japan and Malaysia
Modi and Putin focused on emerging Indo-Pacific partnership during their summit on Wednesday. “…India and Russia as stakeholders in this common space agreed to intensify consultations on complementarities between integration and development initiatives in greater Eurasian space and in the regions of Indian and Pacific Oceans,” read the joint statement issued after the summit.
Modi also emphasised on India’s commitment to become a five trillion dollar economy by 2024. Modi, who arrived in Russia on a two-day visit on Wednesday, is the first Indian prime minister to visit to the Russian Far East Region.
“Was in St. Petersburg two years ago and here I am today in Vladivostok. In a way, it’s been a trans-Siberian journey for me as well…Honoured to be addressing the Eastern Economic Forum,” the PM emphasised in his address.
Ahead of the PM’s trip, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal led a delegation of four BJP chief ministers and 140 businessmen last month to the Russian Far East in a bid to stamp India’s presence in a region currently dominated by China. The two countries are looking at collaborating in sectors such as diamond-processing, rare earths, petroleum and natural gas, agriculture, timber, tourism and infrastructure. India has invested in oil fields in Far East and plans to invest more as part of roadmap and joint development of oil fields as agreed yesterday.
Source : Times of India