|Rising stock: India's status as a growing power makes it an important ally for Poland on the global stage|
Ewa Boniecka: India’s economy is growing very fast. Has the global economic slowdown affected your country?
Monika Kapil Mohta: Poland has admirably weathered recessionary trends in Europe. While the Indian economy is not insulated from the global downturn, we continue to register vibrant and robust growth. India’s economic boom is largely dependent on its domestic market and is not propelled by external factors.
How do you see the overall mutual relations between India and Poland?
India and Poland have traditionally enjoyed warm and friendly relations. Our ties have strengthened and have become multifaceted over the last two decades. President Patil came to Poland in 2009 and Prime Minister Tusk visited India in 2010. Visits by our foreign ministers also took place in 2011 and 2012.
In addition to high-level political contacts, our two countries have put a framework for dialogue in place, which includes annual foreign office consultations, a joint commission on economic cooperation and a joint working group on defense. Our bilateral trade is growing steadily and stands at $2 billion, while Indian investments in Poland are reaching $3 billion.
Poland also has a rich tradition of Indology and we have established several India Chairs (where experts are brought in to hold discussions and cultural exchanges) as well as study centers at various Polish universities. Given our shared values relating to democracy and human rights, India and Poland are natural partners, both in substantive bilateral cooperation as well as in collaboration on global issues.
How do you see the possibilities for further development of Indian-Polish economic cooperation?
There is tremendous potential in strengthening our economic cooperation in areas such as IT, agriculture and food processing, coal, minerals and mining, pharmaceuticals and the transport sector. Indian corporations are increasingly looking at Poland as a safe and attractive investment destination.
There are reports in the Polish press about an Indian consortium that is currently engaged in talks to purchase a Polish coal mine. What do you think about Polish-Indian cooperation in the coal industry?
There are moves towards tangible cooperation in the coal sector. Preparatory work needs to be done leading up to high-level contact for meaningful talks on coal exports as well as the acquisition of coal assets. We are setting up a joint working group to explore such opportunities which will benefit both countries.
Indian IT industry has seen some remarkable successes, Indian programmers work in top positions at international IT giants. What is the basis for such success?
India’s IT prowess and its knowledge-based industries need to be seen in a broader, cultural context. Indian society has, over centuries, laid tremendous emphasis on knowledge, scholarship and in-depth research in science. Several Indian IT companies have invested in Poland and we have also set up a joint working group for closer cooperation in the IT sector.
India and Poland have a longstanding relationship in the field of defense. How do the countries collaborate in this sector?
Our defense cooperation was hitherto military equipment-centric. Now we are also looking at other areas of cooperation including sharing technologies and greater interaction among our defense personnel through training programs.
How are India’s relations developing with the European Union?
India and the EU share a strategic partnership. We adopted a joint action plan in 2005 (which was reviewed in 2008) that provided for strengthening dialogue and consultation mechanisms in the political and economic spheres, enhancing trade and investment, and bringing peoples and cultures together.
We also hold annual India-EU summits, and are currently negotiating a bilateral trade and investment agreement which will significantly enhance our commercial relationship. At present, our bilateral trade with the EU stands at €76 billion.
While India’s global economic and political role is rising, you still hold the status of a non-aligned country, why?
The idea of the Non-Aligned Movement was born while the world was divided into two blocs led by the US and the Soviet Union. We think that even in an entirely different, multipolar world, the Non-Alignment Movement continues to be relevant.
The movement represents a large majority of the world’s population and it has been a powerful tool for the promotion of global peace, security and development.
The movement should take the lead in building global governance structures that are representative, credible and effective. It can agree on action to reform institutions such as the United Nations Security Council, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Existing problems cannot be solved effectively without a stronger voice of developing countries on issues such as global trade, finance and investment.
India is a nuclear power at a time when the issue of developing nuclear programs by many countries is the subject of international debate. What is India’s doctrine in developing its nuclear program?
India has always advocated universal and complete disarmament. We consider nuclear weapons to be at best a necessary evil. India has maintained and demonstrated an exemplary non-proliferation record since the inception of its nuclear program in the 1950s.
Our program is entirely indigenous and our nuclear doctrine is based on the principle of no-first use but assured retaliation. India did not sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, because we feel it creates a discriminatory regime.
The recent agreement between India and the US on a civilian nuclear program is aimed at gaining access to international nuclear commerce in order to secure the energy requirements of our country.
India belongs to the BRICS group, which also includes Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa: all very different countries in political terms, but how do you see the role of this group on the international stage?
BRICS is a unique grouping of countries with the capacity and political will to engage with the global community and contribute in a meaningful manner to global well-being, stability and prosperity.
We believe that emerging economies have some unique elements to share with one another, they have some common problems to discuss and that the BRICS group will be able to contribute to the world’s economic recovery.
Since its establishment in 2006 (South Africa joined in 2011), BRICS has come a long way and has evolved mechanisms of consultation and cooperation in a variety of sectors. Our agenda has widened to encompass issues of global governance, reform of international financial institutions, climate change and energy security, sustainable development and international terrorism.
And how you would describe your bilateral relations with Russia and China?
Our bilateral relations with Russia are based on mutual trust, a time-tested and steadfast friendship. It is a unique and strategic partnership. We have annual political summits and regular dialogue through established mechanisms.
Apart from vibrant economic ties, our countries work closely in the areas of civil nuclear energy, defense, space, oil and natural gas, as well as science and technology. Our relations have a global significance and we consult closely in international fora including the UN Security Council and BRICS.
Meanwhile, as the two largest developing countries in the world, India’s relations with China transcend bilateral scope and have acquired regional and also global and strategic significance. Both countries view each other as partners and not as rivals or competitors.
India’s engagement with China is built on a foundation of peace. Our bilateral trade stands at $70 billion and we hope to increase this to $100 billion by 2015.
In a recent speech, President Bronisław Komorowski stressed the need for some reforms in the UN. India is trying to obtain permanent membership in the Security Council. What is your position on this issue?
The UN must evolve and adapt itself to a rapidly changing global reality to better serve the core needs of the world community. As a country which places great confidence in the UN’s capacity to contribute to international peace and security, India has a vital interest in making the UN more responsive to the needs of its member states.
As early as 1994, India announced that it was prepared to accept the responsibility of permanent membership in the UN Security Council. We think that its present form does not reflect international reality and that its membership should be expanded.
Our membership may be seen in the context of India being the largest democracy in the world, representing 1.25 billion people, one of the largest emerging economies in the world, a country with a history of ancient civilization and with a universal world view and respect for diversity and pluralism. We hope that long-delayed reforms of the United Nations will be undertaken as soon as possible.
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