By Deepshi, Gujarat National Law University.
The recent foreign policy of the Modi government, which is also known as the Modi Doctrine, is majorly targeted towards improving relations with neighboring countries in South Asia and South East Asia. The “Look East” Policy, which was formulated under the leadership of PV Narsimha Rao but failed in subsequent implementation, has been revamped under the recommendation of Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. The “Act east” policy has replaced the “Look east policy” and now aims at a more pro-active role of India in the Southeastern region. The focus is on economic engagements, strategic partnerships and security cooperation with countries in this region promoting an over-all culture of mutual growth and development. This policy which was unveiled in the ASEAN submit in Mynammar has been effectively action oriented and Modi’s recent visit to Mangolia was only a step further in this direction.
There have been cultural exchanges ever since ancient times as a result of which Buddhism, which has been founded originally in India was carried to Mongolia by Indian Missionaries during the early Christian Era and today stands as the single largest religious denomination in Mongolia.
The relations between India and Mongolia have not been very active ever since India became the first country outside the Soviet Block to establish diplomatic relations with Mongolia in December 1955. Ever Since Indo-Mongolian cooperation is limited to diplomatic visits, provision of soft loans and financial aid and the collaborations in the IT sector.
However there have been some instances where goodwill has been witnessed between both the nations. In 1961, India sponsored Mongolia’s candidacy for membership of the United Nations despite facing opposition from Taiwan and China. Mongolia reciprocated to the Indian gesture by becoming the second country after Bhutan to recognize Bangladesh as an independent country following the liberation of Bangladesh by Indian troops.
Mongolia also supports India’s candidature as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council while India supported the inclusion of Mongolia as a full member of the Non-Aligned Movement. In addition, Mongolia has also supported India on the issue of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir on several international forums.
In 1973, Mongolian Prime minster Yumjaagin Tsedebbai visited India and a path-breaking Indo-Mongolian Joint declaration was signed between the two nations in the month of February.
Once again the President of Mongolia Punsaalmagin Ochirbat visited India in 1994 during which a treaty of friendly relations and cooperation was signed, which resolved to develop cooperation in trade and economy, science, health, agriculture, culture, education, communication and tourism. They also resolved to work closely to ensure security and curbing international crimes and terrorism
As ironical as it may sound, Mongols who were one of the most dreaded invaders of India during the ancient times, signed the first defence cooperation agreement with India during the visit of the President Natsaagin Bagabandi in the year 2001.
In January 2004 another peace treaty was signed as the Mongolian prime Minister Nambaryn Enkhbayar visited India This included three agreements which were signed in order to promote mutual cooperation in the fields of Animal Health and Dairy, Space Science and biotechnology
Indians in Mongolia
According to Mongolian Immigration figures, Indian community in Mongolia is modest, numbering about two hundred. However the culture of India is widely popular there. A large number of Indian literary work including Panchtantra, Ramayana, Shakuntala, Ritu Samhara, Kamasutra, Godaan, Gaban and Kati Patang have been published in Mongolian language. Hindi films are widely popular in the country and the dubbed versions of films enjoy enormous fan following. The popular mythological serial Mahabharata, dubbed in Mongolian, has been telecast on Ulaanbaatar TV. Also, India provides technical and economic cooperation to Mongolia in the fields of higher education, agriculture, information and communication technology and human resource development. The government of India has bee providing scholarship to 40 Mongolian Nationals every year to pursue higher studies in India.
India and Mongolia have extended cooperation in the defence sector. Ever since its inception in 2004, the joint India Mongolia military exercise also known as ‘Nomadic Elephant’ is held every year. During the first decade of defence relationship top military officers of India and Mongolia visited each other’s bases, exercised together and discussed the possibilities of strengthening defence relations. In addition to that India has trained Mongolian military officers in Indian training establishments and the Mongolian Army have also sent their officers for counter insurgency and jungle warfare training school which is India’s premier center for anti terrorist training.
At the very nascent stage of their relationship, India and Mongolia participated in the joint peace keeping maneuvers in Mongolia in October 2004 which was followed by a second round of bilateral exercises at the Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare School at Vairangte in Mizoram that borders Myanmar. India also participated in the multi nation Khan Quest army exercise organized by the US Army.
In July 2011, the President of India Mrs Pratibha Patil held wide-ranging talks with her counterpart Tsakhia Elbegdorj, leading to the signing of three agreements between the two countries to expand further cooperation in defence, planning and education and media exchanges. In the area of defence the two countries agreed to expand collaboration through increased level of joint exercises and training.
India Mongolia Nuclear Deal
In September 2009 a nuclear agreement was signed along with four other agreements between India and Mongolia after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj engaged in wide-ranged talks. After US, Russia, France, Kazakhstan and Namibia this pact for civil nuclear cooperation with Mongolia made it the sixth country with which India has such relations ever since it acquired a waiver from NSG allowing it to carry out nuclear commerce.
This `Memorandum of Understanding on Development of Cooperation in the field of Peaceful Use of Radioactive Minerals and Nuclear Energy‘ enabled India to procure for uranium in Mongolia. Agreements were signed in the field of peaceful uses of radioactive minerals and nuclear energy, health, culture and statistics. India also provided Mongolia a soft loan of US $25 million to help it to stabilize its economy in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Narendra Modi’s Recent Tour
The recent two-day visit to Mongolia, which was the first ever by any Indian Prime Minister, has once again shifted the limelight on India’s ties with Mongolia. The highlight of the visit was the announcement of India providing a line of credit of $one billion to support the expansion of Mongolia’s economic capacity and infrastructure. Modi also stated that the destinies of both the countries that are “spiritual neighbors” are closely intertwined so as to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the South Asian region. The agenda was to upgrade the comprehensive partnership between the nations to a “strategic partnership”. This visit by our Prime Minister also coincided with 25 years of democracy in Mongolia and 60 years of diplomatic relations between our two nations.
Both the prime ministers declared that they had strong convergence of views on bilateral relations and their regional and international partnership,” hereby signing agreements covering economic relations, development partnership, defence and security, and people-to-people contacts, that further testified the depth of the relationship. The two Prime Ministers also agreed to encourage development of equal and mutually beneficial trade, investment and economic cooperation, which is balanced and sustainable in approach. They vouched for intensified cooperation in civil nuclear domain, such as societal and industrial applications of radioisotopes, exploration and mining of radioactive minerals in Mongolia, and human resource development.
This visit by Narendra Modi is being touted as a “master move” in the political circuit as the “uranium deal” with Mongolia has been a big ticket agenda since the supplies of Uranium from Mongolia to India haven’t materialized yet even after 6 years of signing the Uranium Deal. Also, Mongolia offers a newer opportunity and strategic leverage for India in dealing with China in more than one ways.
The visit did manage to generate the much-required hype but the consequences that flow from it are still much awaited.