Last summer, Moscow welcomed the participants of the II “Development of Parliamentarism” International Forum. The large-scale event gathered over 800 representatives of 132 states, including 18 delegates of the “New Generation” program from abroad. Astik Sinha from India was one of the members of that delegation. One year later, he recalled the most memorable moments from the trip and told us how the pandemic affected his current work.
“Russia and India have well established parliamentary systems and the ‘Development of Parliamentarism’ Forum was a unique opportunity to share some of the public initiatives being implemented in our countries,” Astik says.
According to him, the Forum is among the few international platforms where state officials and experts can discuss global issues. “Such platforms strengthen democratic values and cooperation,” he believes.
For the graduate of the “New Generation” program, the highlight of the visit to Russia was an opportunity to see Russian President Vladimir Putin address the public. “He spoke about Russia’s role in the world and how geopolitics was being reshaped in the new world order,” he remembers.
In addition, the event helped Astik to better understand the views of his colleagues and exchange solutions to common problems implemented around the world. “We interacted with many young politicians and advisors and concluded that we have similar experiences. Our outlook on global issues was not limited to our knowledge of our country or region. As citizens engaged in policy and politics, having a worldview is critical,” he points out.
Invited to attend the 2019 event by the Russian Embassy in New Delhi, Astik admits that there was no way he would choose not to go. “Apart from my love to travel, I have been regularly engaged with various international forums. Russia and India are old friends. Who would refuse an opportunity to immerse in each others culture and history?” he remembers. “We had a wonderful tour of the war memorial and other cultural and historic sights in Moscow. The highlight was walking through the streets of Moscow.”
Plus, the experience proved to be a great way to find new friends and partners - Astik admits that he remained in touch with his fellow colleagues and even collaborated with some of them during the pandemic. Today, he works with the Indian Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs, currently focusing on India’s economic revival and self-reliance in order to turn the Covid-19 adversity into an opportunity for India.
“Since the Finance Ministry is a key ministry in any government, work and services cannot stop. We maintain caution, social distancing and face masks during office hours. Most of our meetings have switched to video conferencing format, this is a big change,” he explains.
Speaking about his future plans, he hopes to continue working in his current field: “India undertakes major economic and policy reforms and emerges as a leading economic power in the years ahead. Being a hardcore public policy professional, this is an opportunity to contribute towards the dream of shaping a ‘New India’.”
Yet, this doesn’t mean that he won’t have time for travel - he hopes to visit Russia again, when he has an opportunity. “Russia surprised me in many ways. Having read Russian authors, watched movies and made friends, I had a long-standing curiosity that became a pleasant reality,” he notes. “Understanding Russia requires multiple visits!”