Shri Kumar Gaurav, the Consul General of India in St Petersburg, has delivered a lecture titled "The Current Position of India in a Changing World" for students of St Petersburg University.

This presentation was dedicated to the 75th anniversary of India’s independence from the United Kingdom celebrated in 2022. The Consul spoke of the course the republic had made over the years and of its key achievements. At the same time, the Consul General spoke of the paradox of the English language as one of the factors that had united the nation. Twenty two languages are still considered official in India. For the joint struggle for independence, it was therefore important to have a common language of communication.

By the end of the colonial period, the people of India were among of the poorest in the world. During the years that have passed since then, the state has gone through various reforms resulting in impressive economic growth. For example, India is now one of the largest food suppliers worldwide.

India is also proud of its achievements in the field of technology development. Today, the country is a nuclear and space-faring nation. Shri Gaurav recalled that the republic was one of the first countries in the world to launch a spacecraft into Martian orbit, and the first to do it at the first attempt. Moreover, India has the third largest start-up ecosystem in the world. There are about 50,000 start-ups here, with about 9,000 of them being technological.

The diplomat made a special focus on the formation of Indian democracy.

If I were asked about the greatest achievement of India, I would say that it was democracy.

Shri Kumar Gaurav, Consul General of India in St Petersburg

He recalled that his country was one of the largest democracies in the world. The Constitution of India guarantees the rights of its people, including legal equality and freedom of speech, assembly, movement and others.

In terms of international policy, India is currently playing a key role in the international arena and is one of the world leaders, according to Kumar Gaurav. The country works with its partners within the framework of: the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD); BRICS; the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation; G20; Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF); and other organisations. India is also grappling with global challenges such as climate change. The republic is a key member of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), which has repeatedly provided assistance to countries facing climate crises.

Further on, the guest spoke about India—Russia relations. Shri Gaurav explained that the countries are cooperating in several areas at once, such as policy, security, economy, science and technology, and culture. Moreover, the connections between the citizens of our two countries are being actively built. According to the Consul General, the Republic of India highly appreciates its relations with the Russian Federation. ’Russia is the only country that has supported India in all difficult situations. Russia is a long-standing partner for us,’ he said.

The cooperation between our countries is carried out not only at the summit level, but also at the regional level. There is a 2021–2025 regional cooperation programme between the Indian state of Haryana with the Sakhalin Oblast of Russia and between the state of Uttar Pradesh with Zabaykalsky Krai.

Another area of cooperation between our countries is energy. Russia and India are implementing joint projects and investing in each other’s R&D. For example, an agreement has already been signed on long-term supplies of coking coal for the Indian steel industry, and a similar agreement is expected to be signed on the supply of fertilisers and Russian investments in the Indian petrochemical sector, railways, shipbuilding and other industries.

The partnership between Russia and India continued during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shri Gaurav said that the countries had been cooperating in the development of vaccines, and the Russian Sputnik V had become the first foreign vaccine approved for use in India. Moreover, India and Russia maintain strong ties between well-known manufacturers and suppliers of medications, medical equipment, personal protective equipment, ventilators and other devices.

Summing up the lecture, Kumar Gaurav noted that the partnership between Russia and India could be considered unique. Moscow and Delhi share the same views on the basic principles of international policy, believe in the principles of multipolarity and are striving to continue their long-standing cooperation and friendship.