With Mr. Mikhail Gorbachov coming to India, the question does arise as to how much or how little we know about the Soviet Union. The following is my fund of knowledge about Russia.
That though the Amricans may have put in a greater volume of money in India, given more loans, more grants, opened more institutions, organisations, educated more Indians, the Russian government has always been the more friendly with the Indian government.
The Russians, have always supported India and vice-versa in the United Nations, the security council and other international bodies.
These are bilateral relations. About the country itself - the Red Army fought bravely and victoriously against Hitler, and, in Germany was defeated at the stage it was, it was because of this. That the Russians themselves are a hard, tough people, mostly living through cold chilly winters and a state and communist-controlled regimen.
That Russian women have thick legs, waits, but they also have some of the greatest gymnasts in the world, who sail through the air and over horizontal bars like poetry. That Russian athletes are not as good as some of their Eastern European colleagues but they are still far superior to the Western European countries.
That Russian authors write long, sad novels that win Nobel Prizes which they are not allowed to collect. That their films have sad, brief runs under state patronage at Akashwani or the former Lotus cinema and badly flop at the Indian box-office, but that would apply to all foreign films except those, from the US.
That they distribute copies of Soviet-land and other literature free, if you ask for it. That Sovietland is as unreadable as Span and though the former can be excused its unreadability, the latter cannot be.
That though the Russians do not appear to be, they must be extremely brainy, otherwise they would not be having so many chess grandmasters,
That though they went into space first, and though technically they are supposed to be more advanced in space than the Americans, it was the Americans who landed men on the moo and drove them around the moon buggies, putting up the whole show live on TV. And the only time the Russians they bored the lives out of us all with their two Indian cosmonauts (Saare Jahan se achha, Hindustan hamara). Though that may be our fault, not theirs.
That Mr. Khrushchev may have been a dicator and a Soviet bear, but he was more interesting than the last half-dozen American Presidants except the present President,
That I still am not sure whether Mr. Mikhail Gorbachov is the president or prime minister or chairman of the Supreme Soviet Presidium or what.
Finally, I think Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, as the other prime ministers before him feels more at home with the Soviets than with the Americans. So the current talks with Mr. Gorbachow should go well.