100 Years of the Russian Consulate in Mumbai

Author: A. Kadakin

116 INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

100 Years of the Russian Consulate in Mumbai

A. Kadakin

LATE IN 1900 THE FIRST RUSSIAN diplomatic mission in India was opened in Bombay signifying first, in many centuries of their history, step towards official relations between Russia and India. Russia could not open an embassy in the country that was a British colony yet the mission acted as one.

It was over 40 years that Russia and Great Britain were corresponding on the subject. The negotiations were complicated and far from easy. In November 1858 Russia, through its embassy in London, invited the British to discuss a possibility of opening Russian diplomatic missions in some of the British colonies explaining its desire by increased trade turnover with them. The Russian government felt that it had to defend Russia's trade and economic interests in India, in particular. Under the trade agreement between the two countries of 12 January, 1859 Russia acquired the right to "appoint consuls in England and its possessions." Bombay was selected because of its advantageous geographic location and because it was a port-the largest in India. Economic considerations were not the only reason: Britain's active expansionist policies in Asia and its drive towards Russia's Central Asian possessions forced the latter to keep an eye on the developments in the strategically key area.

Russia regarded Bombay as the most suitable point because Muslim pilgrims from Russian Central Asia passed it on their way to Mecca and Medina. The consulate was expected to monitor epidemics in India "to protect the Empire against infectious diseases raging in India at all times."

By the late nineteenth century the trade between India and Russia had reached a level which demanded special efforts to protect the interests of Russian subjects. In an absence of a Russian diplomatic mission it was hard to settle many problems, such as inheritance. They were resolved through the ...

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