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Having Choices, India Retains Russia - A Sign of Continued Underdevelopment?

Narendra Modi, India's populist Prime Minister, won office earlier this year in the World's largest democracy, amid an Indian renewed hope of economic and social development -  the type of hope that many believe would soon, at least, place India close to par with China in terms of economic well being. Yet, following visits from China's President and the signing of economic deals with Beijing, no real concrete change to the status-quo appears imminent in India.

India has apparently renegaded to the same economic practices and the same major partners of yore; and it further underscored this inference earlier this week as Prime Minister Modi hosted Russia's Vladimir Putin, who brought along his Crimea partner Sergey Aksyonov, a move that has complicated India's relationship with the West, given the fact that Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine this past March. India has not endorsed Western sanctions on Russia for actions in Ukraine and Crimea. 

India's fraternization with Putin and the Crimea installed leader, suggests that Modi is leaning toward Russia -  an old major partner, with which it has had a strong relation for many years, while India has remained grossly underdeveloped.

As Modi has admitted and reported by Reuters: "Even if India's options have increased, Russia remains our most important defense partner." For now, India has selected Russia and Russia needs to cozy up to India, in an attempt to off set the biting impacts of Western sanctions. 

Modi has taken Putin's bait; and both countries have inked deals for Russia to build some 12 nuclear reactors in India over 20 years with one already in operation at Kudankulam and another poised to come on-line in 2015. Moreover, Russia's major energy supplier has entered a 10-year deal to supply crude to India's Essar Oil. Putin has also pledged to build Russian helicopters in India.

Given India's stratified caste society ripe with clear restrictions on the rights of women and the existing difficulties to social mobility, it remains fascinating that Indian has been able to remain a democracy. During the soviet era, India maintained strong ties with the Kremlin. But with Modi's election, some observers hoped for a strong and a sound distinct Indian transition to more formidable ties with the West, as a means to raising the standard of living. 

The above-average commitment to the West from India, is yet to come. But India has one more opportunity to define its future path and it could be affirmed in January when United States(US) President Barack Obama visits for India's Republic Day celebrations.