Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh oversaw the signing of key deals in defence and nuclear energy on Tuesday. The two sides signed a preliminary design contract for making so-called fifth generation fighter aircraft in a deal potentially worth $30 billion. They also inked an agreement to jointly develop nuclear reactor technology. All in all, the two sides clinched close to 30 deals.
And the Russian president also lost no time expressing political support for India. He called on Pakistan to go after the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks and supported India’s bid for a permanent seat in the UN security council.
Meanwhile another agreement this week could fuel greater Indo-Russian co-operation in hydrocarbons. ONGC’s overseas arm, OVL, signed an agreement with Russian conglomerate Sistema. Under the deal, OVL could get 25% stake in two of Sistema’s subsidiaries. In return, OVL would have to sell its entire $2.1 billion stake in another Russian company, Imperial Energy.
Switching gears, the Hero Group is finally looking overseas. The company hopes to export two-wheelers to countries in Latin America, the Middle-East and Africa. It plans to use the Hero Group’s own logo for these exports. At present it’s just waiting for a final separation agreement with old joint venture partner Honda Motor. Just last week, the Hero Group and Honda Motor formally announced an end to the partnership that created Hero Honda.
In other news, authorities have started quizzing former telecom minister A. Raja over the second generation spectrum scandal. Raja arrived at the CBI headquarters in Delhi on Friday morning for an extended questioning. Meanwhile, in a separate investigation, the CBI also raided the home of Suresh Kalmadi, the chairman of the Commonwealth Games organising committee. Kalmadi was also questioned for several hours.
And all those corruption scandals meant Manmohan Singh and the UPA government got no respite from opposition attacks this week. On Wednesday, opposition parties organized a mega rally in the heart of the capital. Top leaders of the BJP raised the pitch, with some calling on the Prime Minister to face a Joint Parliamentary Committee or resign. Others, like L.K. Advani hinted Sonia Gandhi was responsible for the government’s refusal to respond to such a committee. The rally came just a couple of days after the Prime Minister went on an offensive of his own. On Monday he had declared his government would not spare anyone involved in corruption, no matter how powerful.