India set to emerge as 3rd largest aviation market: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said his government was working on a mission mode for expansion of the aviation sector and that India was poised to become the third largest aviation market in the world.

Praising his government for being the first to come out with an aviation policy, Modi said, “It is estimated that after five years, population of the size of the entire US will be travelling through our airports in a year. Imagine the kind of growth the sector will witness. India is soon expected to emerge as the third largest aviation market. This will boost economy and also increase employment,” he said.

The PM was speaking after dedicating the new integrated terminal building of the Vadodara International Airport, Gujarat‘s first green airport and second in the country after the one at Kochi in Kerala.

Modi also made indirect references to the recent surgical strikes at Navlakhi ground later in the day while speaking at Smajik Adhikarita Shivir held to distribute aid and appliances to 10,000 disabled.

He asked the audience at Navlakhi what was India widely appreciated for these days. Expectedly, the crowd shouted ‘surgical strike’. Modi repeated the question and got the same reply. But he said that the country was being recognized as the fastest growing economy amongst the big economies of the world.

Modi mentioned surgical strike while talking about how his government had ensured that around Rs 36,000 crore was saved by directly depositing subsidy in banks and another Rs 65,000 crore came in the mainstream when black money was disclosed.

“We did this even without doing a surgical strike. You can imagine what will happen when we do so,” he said hinting that the savings were done without taking any strict action.

“After you gave the responsibility as PM within a short period we had taken up two important works, including one for which Gujarat had been struggling for the last five decades. It had struggled, had faced hardships to get Sardar Sarovar dam’s height increased. We gave permission for that immediately after coming to power,” said Modi.

 

“Secondly, in June-July 2014 , we started work for construction of the new airport and I am happy that after the new government took over, two airports have become part of the green movement including the one at Kochi and now at Vadodara,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the country is huge and 80 to 100 airports were not enough.

 

He attacked the previous governments, saying, “Earlier, airports were built, planes would fly but the country did not have an aviation policy. How to take the sector forward in next five or ten years and take care of its and passengers’ needs, what should be done for common people, there was no vision in place earlier.”

or Indian leaders the bilateral summit in Goa became a unique opportunity to convince Russia to change its course in south Asia, and to understand the Russian position about hot topics in the region, including cross-border terrorism and the territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. But when prime minister Narendra Modi explained Indian concerns to president Putin, the Russian response seemed less concerned than expected. Just before Putin’s visit to India, Russia’s land force commander-in-chief general Oleg Salyukov confirmed that Russia would hold another round of military exercises with Pakistan in 2017.

As for now it looks like Russia doesn’t want to change its course in south Asia. However, observers could see that the Russian delegation was warmly welcomed by Indian counterparts at the BRICS summit. It might seem like India’s anger over the military cooperation between Russia and Pakistan was over. Yet it would be wrong for Russians to become complacent.

The positive coverage in India could be explained in two ways. First, political leaders of Russia and India decided not to let hot issues leave closed doors. It is in the interests of Putin and Modi to show cordial relations between Russia and India, each for different reasons. At a time of big problems with the West, Moscow tried to show that it has close friends and almost allies around the world. For Modi it was important to show that the foreign policy of India remains diversified and balanced (not pro-American as it’s seen by some inside and outside India).

The second explanation of the positive reaction is that for the Indian side it wouldn’t be wise to focus on the drills with Pakistan at a time when they are agreeing the purchase of S-400, stealth frigates, and, reports suggest, the possible lease of a second nuclear submarine. How else could Delhi could give the green light to such strategic projects with the Russians, whose flirting with Pakistan gives them reason for serious concerns?

Being very interested in such projects, India seemed to prefer to stay mute over the issue of the relations between Russia and Pakistan. Moscow could use the planned military-technology cooperation to tackle Delhi’s openly negative reaction to the Druzhba-2016 drills. It looks like Moscow succeeded in doing this.

It is widely believed that the Russian leadership is stronger at tactics, short-term planning, than at strategy and long-term foreign policy. If that is the case, the Russian strategic partnership with India may become a victim of this.

Moscow will remain one of the key sources of military technologies for India for many years. No doubt, the Indian path towards acquiring strategic military technologies would be harder and longer without Russian assistance. Moscow played a very important role in the development of the civilian nuclear sector of India. At the summit in Goa, Moscow confirmed its intention to be one of the key players in the oil and gas sector of the Indian economy. And Indians appreciate that.

But the problem is that these long-term projects may be developed separately from the wider relationship between Russia and India, where there is poorer economic interdependence, weaker political contacts, and bigger suspiciousness and even mistrust. Russian tactical gains in the fields of military technologies and energy may be sunk by strategic failures in political and economic relations between Russia and India. To avoid this Russia badly needs to produce a long-term strategy towards India and the region of south Asia, and to stop thinking about India and Pakistan tactically and separately.

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