Will the "Sindhurakshak" tragedy affect cooperation between Russia and India?
The final conclusions of investigation will not be known for quite some time, but here's what is alarming. Although none of the experts has attributed the accident to defects of the submarine design - just as no one doubts the high quality of Russian weapons in general, some people in India, and especially in the West, would love to use this tragedy to cast a shadow on successfully developing military-technical cooperation between Russia and India. This, in particular, is what the expert of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, Boris Volkhonsky thinks:
“Military-technical cooperation (MTC) is one of the areas in which Russia (and earlier - USSR) and India have traditionally been cooperating successfully. A couple of years ago, India took the first place among the world's arms importers, surpassing China in this position. This made the field of MTC even more attractive to the world's leading suppliers of arms. In this regard, in recent years, Russia is experiencing considerable pressure from competitors who at times resort to the banal tasks of offering gratification to non-governmental organizations and the media to discredit the Russian-made weapons.”
This fact was especially noted by the Indian sociologists. Thus, every accident involving Russian MiG-21 (and there have been more than a hundred such accidents in recent years) catches the media attention that will not fail to mention that these aircraft were made in Russia. And while it does not matter whether the accident was caused by pilot error or simply due to the fact that the aircraft had exhausted its resources - the main doubt is always cast on Russia as the supplier of arms, says Boris Volkhonsky.
“And now, in the case of the accident on the submarine "Sindhurakshak," none of the versions put forth as of today links the tragedy with the design defect of the boat itself. Moreover, experts agree unanimously on the high quality of the submarines in the series Kilo, as well as the Russian weapons in general . But look at how this accident was reported in the first days by Indian, and especially - the Western media. The headline and the leads of almost all the articles noted that "Russian-made boat sank." Thus, while not directly accusing the makers of the boat, the authors of these articles implicitly threw in the idea of the unreliability of Russian-made equipment.”
It should also be noted that such methods of unfair competition are applied not only in the sphere of military-technical cooperation. Nuclear power is another promising area of Russian-Indian cooperation. But even there, as the entire history of Kudankulam reveals, the competitors do not stop at "black PR" against Russia. They sometimes even resort to bribing of non-governmental organizations, which in turn incite the local population to supposedly "spontaneous" protests.
In addition, accidents, such as those involving "Sindhurakshak" call for a new look at the well-known Nuclear Liability Act 2010. After all, the manufacturer cannot be held responsible for mistakes made by the technical staff in the operation of any complex technology.
In this situation, it is hoped that the government commission will thoroughly examine the causes of the accident on the submarine, and the Indian media will honestly convey them to the public, without trying to tilt the findings in favor of unscrupulous rivals of Russia.