To celebrate 75 years of bilateral relations between Sweden and India, the Consulate General of Sweden in Mumbai, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) have jointly organised an exhibition of Swedish innovations and inventions.
Overview of India-Sweden relationship –
- Formal ties — The diplomatic relations between India and Sweden were established in 1949, based on the strong foundation of shared democratic values.
- High level contacts between the two countries go back to 1957 when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited Sweden.
- The partnership has witnessed a sharp upswing in the high-level engagement since 2014, with 10 visits/interactions at Head of State/Head of Government level during this period.
- The historic visit of PM Modi to Sweden in 2018, the first of its kind after nearly three decades, has been a turning point in taking the bilateral relationship to the next stage.
- The first India-Nordic Summit (India, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Denmark) took place in the year 2018 in Sweden.
- Leadership in innovation — Sweden consistently ranks among the top two economies in the world in terms of Innovation.
- Innovation, Technology, Investment and R&D collaborations hence can provide the bedrock of modern relationship between India and Sweden.
- During the 2018 visit of PM Modi to Sweden, the two sides adopted a wide-ranging Joint Action Plan and signed a Joint Innovation Partnership.
- The first high level Dialogue on Innovation Policy was co-chaired by PM Modi and the King of Sweden in December 2019.
- A Sweden India Transport Innovation and Safety Partnership (SITIS) was also signed in 2020.
- India welcomed Sweden’s decision to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
- Industrial development — Sweden is an external oriented economy with focus on services and industry sectors, especially on manufacturing, IT, life sciences, circular economy, clean technologies.
- Sweden PM Löfven was the Chief Guest at 2016 Make in India event and Sweden also hosted a major Make in India event in 2017.
- In the 1960-70s, Pune became an important industrial hub, where Swedish companies like Alfa Laval, Tetra Pak, Sandvik and Atlas Copco were established.
- Pune was chosen because it was a strategically good location considering the proximity to India’s commercial centre in Mumbai.
- Trade and investment — Trade in goods and services has increased from USD 3 billion (2016) to USD 4.6 billion (2021).
- India is also the 3rd largest trading partner for Sweden after China and Japan in Asia.
- Indian companies have also made acquisitions and collaborative relations in recent years in Sweden, e.g., Wipro, Cadila Pharmaceuticals, Aditya Birla, HCL Technology, Dr. Reddys, Biocon etc.
- Sweden also launched the ‘Time for India’ drive as a trade promotion event to boost bilateral trade in 2021.
- Exports — Exports to Sweden in India averaged 4.64 INR billion from 2014 until 2022, reaching an all-time high of 8.09 INR Billion in March of 2022. India is also Sweden’s 19th largest export market.
- Business linkages — Various mechanisms, like India Sweden Business Round Table (ISBLRT), Sweden India Business Council (SIBC), have actively engaged in promoting business linkages with India like Invest India, CII, DPIIT, etc.
- Also, in 2018 under the Joint Action Plan, both sides agreed to explore revamped industry partnership.
- It is aimed to develop supply chains for small and medium-sized enterprises, smart city grids, and transit-oriented urban transportation on a sustainable basis
- Critical issues — In the 1980s India and Sweden worked together on nuclear disarmament issues within the framework of the ‘Six Nation Peace Summit’ (which also included Argentina, Greece, Mexico, and Tanzania).
- Both countries have, in the past, also joined hands on common causes such as decolonisation, anti-apartheid promoting development partnerships, environment, UN Peacekeeping, UN Peacebuilding, and disarmament.
- Sweden supports India’s membership in the expanded United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
- Sweden also supported India in its membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and has extended full support in India’s bid for its pending membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
- Defence ties — PM Modi recently invited Swedish defence companies to invest and participate in “Make in India” programme, especially in the two Defence Production Corridors in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
- This enhanced partnership encompassing defence production, cybersecurity cooperation, defence technology exchange was culminated by General Security Agreement in 2019.
- Multilateral engagements — India and Sweden have jointly launched the Leadership Group on Industry Transition (LeadIT) in association with World Economic Forum (WEF) at the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019. In 2013 during the Swedish Presidency, India also joined the Arctic Council as an Observer at the Kiruna Ministerial Meeting.
- Cultural and academic ties — In 1913 Rabindranath Tagore became the first non-European to be awarded the Nobel Prize (for Literature). An Ayurveda Seminar was also organised in 2022 where around 70 Ayurveda practitioners from Sweden joined. A popular annual cultural event ‘Namaste Stockholm’ is also supported by the Embassy of India.
- Indian diaspora — The Indian Diaspora in Sweden is estimated to be over 60,000 most of them are professionals, predominantly in IT sector.
Avenues to deepen and expand the partnership further –
- The relations could be deepened further by adopting an active industry policy as industry and manufacturing are the key to building long-term economic growth. India and Sweden also need to deepen engagements toward socially and environmentally sustainable practices throughout the entire supply chain to enable green and sustainable future.
- Having the EU presidency, Sweden is one of the strongest proponents for a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and India. This would be a game-changer for India-Sweden economic and industrial exchange and its positive impact would be especially noticeable in cities like Pune, with a strong presence of Swedish companies.
The increasing consolidation of strategic convergence between India and Sweden is based on shared values of democracy, strong institutional affinity, pluralism, and rules-based international order. India-Sweden 75th anniversary is thus an opportunity to reflect on the principles that should guide us for the next 100 years while expanding and strengthening the contours of strategic cooperation.
Source – The Indian Express
QUESTION – As India and Sweden marks 75 years of diplomatic relations, it is incumbent upon the two to collaborate more closely and deepen the partnership further between trade and industry. Examine the relationship in the background and suggest a way forward.