Indo-Russian Science & Technology Cooperation Research

Modern technologies are not only the source of economic growth but also the basis for the realisation of global prosperity. Consequently, many states are seeking to develop science and technology through international cooperation. Currently, Russia and India, as strategic partners, have developed their partnership in almost all areas of bilateral relations, including politics, security, defence, trade and economy, and culture. The two countries focus on strengthening, expanding and also deepening cooperation in science and technology (S&T).Besides bilateral cooperation, the two economies interact in several multilateral platforms including BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the G-20, where they support partnership based on mutual interests.The history of relations between India and Russia goes back to the 17th century. Nevertheless, active cooperation can be traced back to India and the Soviet Union. Bilateral scientific cooperation with the Soviet Union began with the signing of the Science and Technology Agreement in 1972. After the collapse of the USSR, the leaders of the two nations signed a Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the Russian Federation and the Republic of India in the year 2000. Since then, India and Russia have been building bilateral relations, including in science and technology.The following documents can be highlighted as a legal framework for bilateral interaction. First, in 1994, an Intergovernmental Agreement on Russian-Indian Scientific and Technical Cooperation. This agreement became the basis for Russian-Indian collaboration in the area. Besides setting up various laboratories and research teams, various research centres are being established by the two countries. For instance, the Russian-Indian Science and Technology Centre was established in Moscow in 2010 as a structure for innovative interaction. In 2012, the Delhi branch of RI STC was officially opened. Additionally, in 2014, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research signed a memorandum of understanding of cooperation in health research.In 2018, during the visit of the Russian President to India, both sides expressed the need for greater cooperation in science and technology and welcomed the successful 10th Russian-Indian Working Group on Science and Technology. The Indian Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation in 2018 jointly conducted it. Both countries came to an agreement in information and communication technology, especially in the areas of electronic systems design and manufacturing, software development, supercomputers, e-government, government service delivery, network security, security in use of information and communication technologies, financial services. Russia and India also highlighted the importance of the long-standing and mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation in space and the Indian regional navigation satellite system NAV-IC and the Russian navigation satellite system GLONASS, created respectively in India and the Russian Federation.The next important step was the signing of an Integrated Long-Term Programme of Cooperation (ILTP) for Science and Technology cooperation between the Russian Federation and India until 2020. This document recognised the growing importance of S&T for the socio-economic development of both nations. Over the 25-year period, ILTP has supported over 500 collaborative R&D projects and the establishment of 9 thematic centres in India and Russia, resulting in over 1500 joint publications and many new products, processes and facilities.Moreover, two inter-governmental commissions – one on trade, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) and the other on military-technical cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) meet annually.In 2021, thanks to joint efforts, Russia and India conducted over 100 joint R&D activities on promising topics, including aviation, to create a solid foundation for the future development of high-tech industries in the two countries. This was done with the help of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS), Russia India Network of Universities (RIN) and DST/CSIR/IIT/IISER institutes, which have conducted a series of scientific webinars and seminars on such topics as Nano-technology, New Materials, Advanced Manufacturing, Quantum Technologies, Disaster Management Technologies, etc.In terms of academic research, 2015 was an important year for cooperation between Russian and Indian institutions of higher education. On May 8, 2015, 21 Russian and 9 Indian leading universities signed a declaration to establish the Russian-Indian Association of Universities. The primary aim was to create a platform for joint research and educational programmes.Despite the constraints associated with the COVID-19, an online programme between AIM and SIRIUS was developed by both sides in coordination with the Indian Embassy in Moscow. The aim of the programme is to develop joint innovations for social and economic impact as well as to showcase the richness and strengths of the cultural similarities between the two countries. For example, in 2022, the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India and Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MSHE) of the Russian Federation invite Indian and Russian scientists to submit proposals for joint research projects.Scientific and technological innovation and entrepreneurship are also priorities for India and Russia. The two nations are cooperating in this area to promote enterprise creation, acceleration programmes, grant support for innovation, localisation of innovative industries in the two countries through innovation clusters and techno parks in the both countries. For this purpose, the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India and the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation in 2019 signed a MoU for cooperation in the field of innovation.Since India and Russia are BRICS member countries, they are engaged in projects within the framework of the whole association. For example, the latest BRICS R&D call was also focussed on combating the current pandemic, Covid-19. Joint projects are being developed to develop new therapeutics, including vaccine development, virology research and other activities.Finally, in science and technology cooperation, joint cooperation in the Arctic should be highlighted. Although the partnership in this area has only recently emerged, this field is quite promising in strengthening bilateral Russian-Indian cooperation. In 2014, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin’s visit to India resulted in a joint statement. Putin’s joint statement recognised the importance of the Arctic region for both countries and their willingness to develop a partnership in this sector, as well as to explore technologies for processing rare earth materials in the Arctic. Today, both Russia and India are cooperating in the Arctic on the following issues: 1) joint exploration of the Arctic shelf; 2) prospecting and development of new deposits of natural resources; and 3) exploitation of new hydrocarbon resources. Furthermore, every year Russian scientists visit Indian polar stations and similarly Indian scientists also visit Russian stations in Antarctica. Recently, India hosted the International Conference on Antarctic Research (ICAR) in Bharati, Antarctica, wherein Russian scientists from Progress stations took part.“We consider the fact that both countries are committed to building a knowledge economy based on the latest scientific advances and innovations. We aim to strengthen scientific cooperation in areas like space technology, aviation, new materials, agriculture, information and communication technology, medicine, pharmaceuticals, robotics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and materials science and to introduce high-tech products in foreign markets,” the leaders announced at the regular meeting.Science and technology have always been a key focus of the India-Russia (and Indo-Soviet) bilateral partnership, besides political, trade and economic and military collaborations. Joint efforts have led to the creation of knowledge, products and facilities in hundreds of common projects, industries and scientific laboratories. With the support of both governments, there are good prospects to take S&T cooperation to a new level, ensuring not only global leadership in modern industries but also improving the quality of people’ lives in both India and Russia.