India, Russia to fight terror jointly

Pratibha, Medvedev discuss bilateral trade in defence, science

India, Russia to fight terror jointly


President Pratibha Patil shakes hands with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow on Thursday. AP

 
During an hour-long meeting between visiting Indian President Pratibha Patil and President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev at the Kremlin Palace here on Thursday, the two leaders stressed the need for the two countries to fight terrorism unitedly as both faced similar challenges.

India’s concerns at cross-border terrorism originating from Pakistan and the situation prevailing in Afghanistan were forcefully put forward by Patil.

Pointing out the similar threats faced by Russia from Islamic terrorism, Medvedev reportedly agreed that the two countries should work together to fight the menace.
Patil said, “Both our countries are faced with similar challenges from divisive forces of extremism and international terrorism. It is satisfying to note that while our challenges are similar, we also share common views and similar approaches.”

Delegation-level meeting

The two leaders, apart from a one-to-one meeting, also had a delegation-level meeting, followed by a banquet hosted by the Russian president. Apart from terrorism, the need to improve bilateral trade in the areas of energy, communication, defence, science and technology also figured prominently during the discussions.

Medvedev noted that despite the downturn in the world economy, the trade between Russia and India had prospered and was expected to touch $10 billion in 2010. Both he and Patil said there was much scope for increasing trade between the two countries.

RUSSIA DIARY

1. You would think it is clichéd and over-romanticised, but it’s real. The Russians’ love affair with Indian film icon Raj Kapoor and the Bollywood per se never seems to fade. The Indians themselves might have forgotten Raj Kapoor’s films, but the Moscovites can still hum Mera joota hai Japaani with ease and pride.

A 20-something Olga Mikhina, who works as an interpreter in the information wing of the Indian embassy in Moscow and our interlocutor with the tough-as-nails Russian bureaucracy, admits she is a fan of Hindi films. She claims to have seen nearly 100 films, both old and new, the latest being Madhu Bandarkar's Fashion. She knows most heroes and heroines by name “but somehow, Rishi Kapoor is my favourite”, she pouts with a shy smile.

Olga, who has earlier worked as a travel guide, and obviously loves her job with the Indian embassy, is also a fan of yoga, which she says helps her keep fit. “Our President Medvedev also practises yoga and he is rumoured to have a private Indian instructor,” she says.

2. No doubt the fact that we were part of the presidential delegation on a state visit, perhaps did help, but getting through the immigration and customs was really a breeze. We didn’t even have to present ourselves physically before immigration authorities and we were let out of the airport even before the officials who collected our passports got them duly stamped. Now, shouldn’t our actors Shah Rukh Khan, who recently had a "harrowing" time at New York airport, and Salman Khan who even cancelled his planned visit to the US, be thinking of going to Russia instead, so that they get the same “royal treatment” as back in India?

3. Dadan Upadhyay, a senior Indian journalist stationed in Moscow, is no relation of mine, but there have been occasions when people have asked me whether we are related.I had the good fortune to meet Dadanji, whose byline has been familiar to the readers of Indian Express for over three decades.

He has travelled widely in Russia and the former Soviet Union and has seen the genuine love for India among the common people. He says the lives of ordinary Russians in remote parts is no better than that of Indians, though they don’t suffer from squalor and poverty to the extent the Indians do.

Vladimir Radyukhin is another senior journalist, whose byline is familiar to Indian readers as he has been a full-time correspondent of The Hindu for the last two decades. The soft-spoken Radyukhin too bemoans that for all the glitz and glamour of Moscow, the life in other parts of Russia has truly deteriorated after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

4. Indians must be among the best chameleons in the world. This gentleman, who gate-crashed an official dinner, and over drinks introduced himself as a Indian steel tycoon’s representative in Moscow, was seen joining the media delegation to the Kremlin to cover the meeting of Presidents of India and Russia, with a shoulder-held camera the next day! Being a person from the "visual media”, he managed to get access to places even some of the genuine media persons could not.

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