Indo-Sweden Bilateral Relations
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TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
India and Sweden have had a bilateral trade turnover of USD 3.37 billion in 2018 and cumulative investments of about USD 2.5 billion since 2000.
Bilateral relations between India and Sweden are friendly and based on principles of democracy and transparency, right to freedom, and rule of law. Regular interactions in political, business, scientific and academic spheres have provided dynamism to the bilateral ties of the two countries.
India and Sweden have always had an atypical diplomatic relationship even though both sides have established sound business and investment ties that go back to the early 1920s.
Market: India has always been a market of immense opportunities for Sweden, with Stockholm selling everything from table mats to warplanes here. At a time when Indian consumers were beginning to learn the concepts of single-brand and multi-brand retail, and that too affordable at that, it was Sweden that entered the country with Ikea and H&M. Ikea had first announced its plans to foray into India in 2008 but opened its first store, after a decade-long wait, at Hyderabad in 2018. H&M entered the country in 2015.
Defence ties between India and Sweden also go back several years. The turning point, however, was in 1986 when India, then under former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, signed an agreement with Swedish defence major Bofors to procure 155-mm Howitzer field guns. This eventually turned into a huge political controversy post which defence cooperation between India and Sweden took a backseat for a long time. In 2016, when the Modi government conducted the much-talked-about ‘surgical strikes’ on Pakistan, Indian para commandos were believed to have used the Carl Gustav-84 mm rocket launchers, made by the Swedish weapons firm Saab, to hit the terror launchpads.
The two sides inked three pacts providing for cooperation in polar science, innovation and research and in maritime spheres –
a) India-Sweden High-Level Dialogue on innovation policy: Focus on areas such as digital health, artificial intelligence (AI), future mobility and circular economy.
- ‘Digital health’: The programme aims to provide scalable and implementable innovative, sustainable and flexible health solutions in both countries, using artificial intelligence-based technologies as a tool.
- ‘Smart grids’: The Swedish Energy Agency has allocated 25 million SEK over the next four years for this industry-led call.
b) Launched the Agri-Waste to High Energy Biocoal pilot project:
- Has been established under the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) Waste to Wealth Mission
- A torrefaction pilot plant for the conversion of agri-waste into biocoal at the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI) in Mohali, Punjab. The biocoal made from unutilised crop waste produces 20 times lower emissions than conventional coal.
- The expected outcomes of this pilot study are: Improved air quality with reduction of crop burning; reduced emissions from use of biocoal as a clean energy source; livelihood generation opportunities for farmers as biocoal production creates new market linkages for agri-waste; soil quality improvement in fields from avoided crop burning, according to a statement.
c) ‘Smart cities and clean technologies’ and ‘Digitisation and Internet of Things’
- The project aims to develop technologies that can be commercialised after two years through joint cooperation between India and Sweden.
- Vinnova will provide funding to Swedish side participants up to 2,500,000 SEK as grant. On the Indian side, conditional grant of up to 50 per cent with a limit of Rs 1.5 crore per project to Indian project partners will be provided.
- The Department of Science & Technology, India, and the Swedish Research Council will fund 20 bilateral projects in the area of computer science and material science under the Indo-Swedish Joint Network Grant Awards.
- The Swedish Research Council will fund 14 million SEK for 2 years for this programme. The Department of Science and Technology will provide activity matching funding to the Indian counterparts.
- The Gripen deal: Sweden is now keenly looking at selling its Gripen warplanes to India under the Modi government’s $12 billion fighter jet deal. Saab, the maker of Gripen, was ready with a plan to build the fighters in the country under the ‘Make in India’ programme in 2016. It had even announced its collaboration with Adani for the project in 2017.
- 5G network across: Swedish Ericsson is one of the contenders in the 5G race.
- A. Modi had visited Sweden in April 2018 to take part in the first-ever India-Nordic Summit; he was the first Indian PM to do so in 30 years. The last PM to visit the country was Rajiv Gandhi in 1988.
- Swedish Monarchy:
- A monarchy is a form of government in which total sovereignty is invested in one person, a head of state called a monarch who holds the position until death or abdication.
- The Swedish monarchy is one of the oldest in the world. According to the website of the Swedish Royal Court, the country has had a monarch for more than 1,000 years.
Connecting the Dots:
- Compare and contrast the history of socialism in Sweden with that of Venezuela.