India and Russia have been economic partners for decades, trading in arms, minerals and agricultural goods. While Russia's economy often relies on large companies and corporations — both private and state-owned, India is known for its small businesses. The country even has a separate ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises, supporting their key role in providing employment for its population, especially in underdeveloped rural areas.
India's demographics contributed to the country's recent success in becoming one of the world's fastest-growing economies, and the country's entrepreneurs see its young population as a clear advantage.
Sammy Kotwani is the President of the Indian Business Alliance. He says his country is prepared to share its business success stories with Russians:
"More than 50% of our population is less than 25 years old. So we have a very young talented population. So I think it's time to bring young brains from India to Russia."
The Indian Business Association was created in 1994. It's a non-profit organization, which promotes the country's business interests in Russia and currently has over 150 active members.
Sammy Kotwani took part in this year's Forum on Small Business of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS Regions in Russia's Ufa. He sees BRICS as a powerful organization, but says that its priorities should be fine-tuned.
"BRICS has been an old association. It was not started yesterday. So, politically it is very strong. Now we have to see how we can make it strong economically."
In the past few years Moscow and New Delhi have been accelerating their cooperation — both bilaterally and within international organizations, such as BRICS. Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi visited this year's St. Petersburg International Economic Forum accompanied by a group of governors and entrepreneurs — just a few months after Vladimir Putin's visit to India's Goa province, where the 2016 BRICS summit took place.
Sammy Kotwani says Russia has a lot of potential, but Indian entrepreneurs should go outside the country's big cities to do business.
"Russia is not Moscow. We have to see Russia as a big country, so regions are very important."
Indian businesses are well-known for their success in the pharmaceutical, engineering and manufacturing spheres, as well as in the services sectors and both sides can benefit from launching joint ventures in these areas. But first, BRICS members, including Russia, would have to deal with many issues — from getting rid of bureaucratic obstacles to setting up common standards for goods and services. So, at the Forum on Small Business of the SCO and BRICS Regions in Ufa Indian entrepreneurs and their colleagues from other BRICS nations discussed the creation of barrier-free cooperation within the bloc, as well as financial, legal, and infrastructural support to small enterprises.
BRICS was formed as an association of five merging national growing economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. As of 2015, the bloc represented 41% of the world's population. The leaders of BRICS gather once a year to discuss political and economic cooperation. This year's BRICS summit was held in China's coastal city of Xiamen.
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