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Conference Program



India: Ramtanu Maitra

The Alliance of India-Russia-China

Schiller Institute

Ramtanu Maitra is the New Delhi correspondent for EIR. This is a transcript of his video presentation to the Schiller Conference of Nov. 2 in Los Angeles.

I will first tell you what the situation is. The situation is not where we expected it to be, but recently the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, visited Moscow, and then flew directly to Beijing, altogether a five-day trip, Oct. 20-24—two days in Russia, three in China. And during his visit to Russia, there were a number of agreements signed, the most important of which concerned the Russian interest in building four more nuclear power plants, in a cluster, where they have already built one, and the second one is now being built.

The second thing that happened, is that India also got from Russia an agreement to jointly do exploration for oil in the Arctic area.

And on the strategic side, what they discussed in Russia is basically the importance of keeping Central Asia stable, in light of the fact that the American and NATO troops will be leaving Afghanistan in 2014, and the place is now infested with terrorists and drug traffickers, and with the departure of these troops, there is a great deal of fear in the region that these terrorists will turn toward the East, toward Russia, towards the Indian part of Kashmir, and also toward the western part of China, which is Xinjiang province.

In addition, the drug trafficking will create a huge amount of instability throughout the region. So there was this strategic understanding, that the stability of Central Asia is necessary for developing the Eurasian landmass.

The Kunming-Kolkata Economic Corridor

In China, the discussions centered mostly on bilateral areas, but one important thing that they discussed—which had been discussed before, but this time there seems to be a little more teeth in it—is developing a corridor from Kunming to Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta): Kunming, in China’s Hunan province, to Kolkata, India, via Myanmar, and Bangladesh (Figure 1). It’s a four-nation economic corridor. It is also a part of the old Silk Road, in the sense that the old Silk Road had many spurs, and this was one of the spurs that existed during those days.

The Chinese have already spoken extensively with the Bangladeshis, and the Bangladeshis have agreed to go ahead with the project. The Indians obviously agree to it, but the initiative has to come from India and China, because neither Myanmar nor Bangladesh has the financial, or the physical, capability to carry out this economic developmental corridor.

So that was a very good thing that happened. But all these things are still on paper. Until these agreements are implemented, or in the process of getting implemented, we cannot say that something concrete has really happened.

Trilateral Cooperation

But this trilateral cooperation is of extreme importance. This was recognized by Mr. LaRouche way back in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, and that event opened up the way for Russia to participate very openly with India and China. And if you look at a map, and if you look at the demography of this area, you will find that Russia, China, and India, and the area that these three nations comprise, is about half of the world’s population. So, the development of this area, because of these three giants’ capabilities, could change the world scene—economically, politically, and socially—rapidly.

Nonetheless, there exist problems, left over from the Cold War period, when Russia was not very well known to the Chinese, and there were a lot of animosities. Then, India and China always had difficulties because of the 1962 border clash. The border is about 2,300 miles long; it’s an undemarcated border, created by the British Raj, and since then, it has not been worked out to the satisfaction of either party. It has been sort of a sticking point between India and China. Previously, it was used to heat up discussions to create a situation in which even a war was considered a likely event.

In 1991, Mr. LaRouche talked about a trilateral agreement. Another person of substance. Yevgeni Primakov, the former Russian prime minister, in 1995, while passing through Delhi, mentioned that India, China, and Russia must cooperate in order to take over the Eurasian landmass area.

In 1999, in New Delhi, the Triangular Association was formed: Academician R.B. Rybakov, chairman of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies, was the head; Prof. Ma Jiali, who was at the time with the Chinese Institute for Contemporary International Relations (CICIR); and an Indian professor Dr. Devendra Kaushik, who was the head of the School of International Studies, Jawarharlal Nehru University; I was the convenor, and we started this triangular association.1

Subsequently, a number of things happened which can be cited as the reason why this concept didn’t move forward rapidly, or fast enough. There was 9/11; even before that, a significant-sized Asian financial collapse happened in 1997. Then in 2001, 9/11 happened. Then came 2007, and, of course, the global economy tanked, thanks to Wall Street/City of London and the White House’s support. Things went astray quite a bit.

But now, at this point in time, there emerges a perfect opportunity when these three countries can move forward. China has become more confident now, since the 1990s, when it was just in the process of getting developed; now it’s a developed nation, almost. Russia has been more assertive. In October, Forbes identified Vladimir Putin as the most powerful individual in the world. And the weakness that I see, particularly at this point in time, is in India, where the leadership is extremely weak. Manmohan Singh is a very weak leader, and moreover, Manmohan Singh is coming to the end of his term, and he’s 81 or 82 years old, and this certainly is the end of his political life.

However, all the basic ingredients for moving this trilateral development forward are there.

The Bush-Obama Stumbling Block

Mr. LaRouche visited India in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2008—four times—and every time he was there, of course, all kinds of issues were under discussion, but he always emphasized that India has a huge population, today, of 1.2 billion, and it has a very developed population, or at least a section of the population is very well developed scientifically and technologically. China has enormous momentum, and China has developed its industries very well. Russia is, scientifically, probably the most advanced nation in the world. When these three get their heads together, and their hands together, it is not at all a difficult thing to resolve the Eurasian problem. And once Eurasia gets developed, then the effect of Eurasia comes to Southeast Asia—and then the Far East, which is Japan and South Korea, which are already developed.

When you consider this entire mass coming together, for the development of 2.5 to 3 billion people, you see that the world is going to undergo a massive change. And this trilateral relationship, as Mr. LaRouche has repeatedly pointed out, doesn’t have to be in a confrontation with the United States. But again, with the kind of leadership that the United States has, or had, from 2000 on, there was very little willingness to participate in worldwide development, and participate with the larger nations, which Wall Street and the White House consider as potential adversaries.

Therefore things didn’t develop that way, particularly during President Obama’s time. I’ll start with the Bush Administration, when Iraq was attacked, and Afghanistan was invaded; but Obama went on to attack Libya, and then created a situation in Syria—all this created a situation where the entire Muslim world, from North Africa all the way to Central Asia, is up in arms against outside forces. And that’s created fundamental difficulties for India, Russia, and China, to develop their economic corridors. Because if you look at the Silk Road, yes, it will start from China; it will go into Central Asia; it will go into Europe, but it also must go into the Middle East as well. But if you keep Iran as an enemy, and keep the whole entire area in flames, then this economic corridor cannot take place.

Secondly, Iran and Saudi Arabia are still the major oil- and gas-producing nations. Both China and India have a great deal of requirements for this oil and gas. By creating this instability, what has been done is that the potential for these countries to develop, fast, has been stalled.

And in addition to that, recently, the Obama Administration has started another new policy, which is basically to confront China. This is known as the “Asia Pivot” policy, which is to say, in the President’s words: We have not left the Asia-Pacific. In fact, they are going to again concentrate their attention, their strength, in the Asia-Pacific once again.

Now, China is particularly worried about this, because it is now being considered as the number two world power; a large-scale American military presence in the Asia-Pacific would create a situation in which a confrontation with China could be real, and could happen.

More importantly, China depends very heavily on importing various natural resources, including oil and gas, for daily consumption for nearly 1.4 billion people in China. And they have to bring these resources by ship, from as far away as Ibero-America, Africa, or the Middle East, and there is always a threat, with the large presence of the U.S. Navy in the Asia-Pacific, that they can, at any point in time, under the pretext of one conflict or the other, find the choke points, like the Malacca Strait, or the Sunda Strait in Indonesia, blocked off, and China will not be able to sustain itself.

The proposed Kra Canal and the Strait of Malacca.

So these are the threats that exist. But, again, these threats are now, in a certain way, fizzling out, because one of the things that the Obama Administration tried to do was to get India, by appealing to India’s fear about China, next door, into the American camp against China. An effort was made in that direction. However, India has rejected it, very vocally, and that is not an issue at this point in time.

Bilateral Issues

There are a lot of bilateral issues which need to be resolved between India-China, India-Russia, China and Russia. I think that many of the difficult issues have been resolved, but India-China—this 2,300-mile border—that is a political issue. Until that border issue is settled amicably, the anti-China lobby, or the pro-U.S. lobby within India, will continue to pull the government back from full-fledged cooperation with China, which is necessary at this point in time.

The problem with India-Russia relations, is that India-Russia trade has been minuscule in size, simply because they have not found a way to develop their mutual dependence. As of now, India is a major purchaser of Russian military hardware, and Russia is definitely very willing to provide as many nuclear power plants as India can absorb. And in fact, Russia has set up some heavy engineering facilities in collaboration with the Indian industrial facilities, which will allow the Indians to build their own nuclear reactors, and various other equipment that is necessary for nuclear power plants.

The Eurasian Land-Bridge, an EIR Speical Report. $100. Available from EIR News Service, 1-800-278-3135

So, if we had been able to talk at a very high level in India, China, and Russia, and there had been a clear understanding that the trilateral cooperation was going to help all three, that would have stabilized the region. Things have not moved in that direction very much, but still, I consider what has happened to be a great deal of advancement. Because in 1999, after that formation of the Triangular Association, I had a press conference with these three individuals [Rybakov, Ma, and Kaushik—ed.], and the press was absolutely shocked to hear that such a thing could be done, because Russia, China—they had their own border war during the Soviet days; India-China had their border wars in 1962. How could these difficult animosities, developed over the years, be overcome?

But this, I think, is what we have succeeded in doing over the years—Mr. LaRouche, of course, is the leader: that there is a clear understanding now in Russia, China, and India that trilateral cooperation, however difficult it is to bring to fruition, is the most important thing that is to be done, in order to stabilize the region—each country is getting an actual benefit out of it—and also, to politically stabilize the world.

Because there is a recognition, which was not there before, that there’s a multipolar world. The understanding had been that it is a unipolar world—the United States is so powerful that no other power would be able to emerge from under its shadow. But over the years, the collapse of the U.S. economy, the collapse of the U.S. policy, the mistakes and failures of the U.S. foreign policy, have made these people, at the highest level, realize that, as China often says, it is a multipolar world, and it can play a stellar role in taking over from the United States the responsibility of stabilizing that vast section of the world.

And eventually, when the United States gets adequate leadership, the United States can join. And that is the only way this world can be stabilized.

Thank you.



1. In July 1999, leading scholars of India, China, and Russia founded the Triangular Association, to promote the Eurasian Land-Bridge, at a meeting in New Delhi. Lyndon LaRouche was named as an honorary advisor to the Association. (See EIR, Sept. 17, 1999.)