The changing world order has opened multiple doors to exploring new strategic synergies between regions that may be divided by distance, but are united by shared values, interests and aspirations. The rapidly evolving ties between India and the Nordic countries have immense potential of becoming the gold mines in the realm of multilateral strategic partnerships. While India proffers diverse opportunities by virtue of its three ‘distinct and desirable D’s’ of Democracy, Demography and Demand, the Nordics, being an amalgamation of design, art, technology and human values, stand out at the top of various human development indices and can, therefore, act as a model for India to emulate.

Shared values like democracy, the rule of law, secularism, justice, equality and respect for human rights unite India and the Nordic countries, and serve as a natural basis for their collaboration. Additionally, they also have mutual perspectives on key issues of international importance such as violent extremism, cyber security, nuclear non-proliferation, free trade, innovation, climate change and realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. In the light of the recent developments at the first ever India-Nordic Summit held in April 2018, the immense possibilities of this robust partnership surfaced indisputably and paved the path to a symbiotic relationship of complementarity and convergence. Together, through these healthy exchanges, India, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland can take a quantum leap into the future that unleashes the power of innovation, skill development, socio-economic growth and environmental solutions.

This paper encompasses constructive discussions on the need, scope and expanse of the emerging bilateral and multilateral partnerships between India and the Nordic countries, and attempts at identifying strategies for turning their enhanced cooperation into a potential game changer. 

India-Nordic Summit

India and Sweden hosted an India-Nordic Summit in Sweden on 16-17 April 2018, entitled ‘India-Nordic Summit: Shared Values, Mutual Prosperity’. It is an extremely rare sight to see all five Nordic countries come together on a single platform for a summit with one single country, as the only such summit ever held before this was between the United States of America and all five Nordic countries in May 2016, during the presidency of Barrack Obama. With India being only the second country after the US to come together with Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland on such a large scale, it becomes evident that the Nordics are as interested in India as India is in them, and the two sides are in a position to mutually complement each other in avenues of trade and investment, defence, sustainable development, space and science, blue economy and education and skill development, among others.

During the Summit, the Prime Ministers pledged to enhance cooperation between India and the Nordic countries and discussed key issues related to economic growth, global security, innovation and climate change. Innovation and digital transformation were acknowledged to be the drivers of growth in an interconnected world, and also the key foci of the growing engagement between India and the Nordic region. The Summit on the one hand, offered the Nordic countries insights into India’s strong commitment to innovation and digital initiatives, as key to sustainable development and prosperity, through its national flagship programmes like Make in India, Digital India, Start-up India, and Swachh Bharat mission; on the other hand, India gained understanding of the Nordic solutions in clean technologies, maritime solutions, food processing, port modernization, health and life-sciences and agriculture. The India-Nordic Summit turned out to be extremely fruitful and should be held periodically in order to reaffirm the commitment between the two sides to pursue their common values and objectives, and also to work together to encourage other countries to follow suit. 

Among other important developments was the key support that India received from the Nordic countries for its membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) and a permanent member seat at the United Nations Security Council. The NSG support from the Nordic states is particularly significant, given the previously strong moralistic approach adopted by these states on India’s nuclear programme. This has changed as today, India’s credentials as a responsible nuclear actor are recognized and accepted, and even though it is not a member of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) de jure, India is de facto committed to all the principles of the treaty and has a commendable record in that area.  Both the United States and China are presently  challenging the global institutional framework in several ways and it is, therefore, crucial for liberal democracies like India and the Nordic countries to enhance their engagements and stand up together for the sanctity of that rules-based global order.

Furthermore, at a time when major economic powers are becoming protectionist and tariff wars are becoming the new normal, the India-Nordic summit reaffirmed the commitment of both sides to work towards supporting free trade as a catalyst for achieving inclusive growth and realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.  Bilaterally too, India is using every single opportunity to enhance ties with the Nordic countries individually, in a manner which is mutually beneficial to both sides. 

India-Sweden Relations

Diplomatic ties between India and Sweden were established in 1949. Their bilateral ties were smooth until the Bofors scandal [1] dented relations temporarily during the 1980’s. However, the two countries promptly revived their warm relationship and thereafter, practiced exceptional cooperation in regional as well as international fora. High level engagements between the two countries date back to 1957 when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited Sweden. This was followed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s visit to Stockholm for attending the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi also visited Sweden in 1986 and 1988. India-Sweden relationship was taken to new heights after the landmark State Visit of the President of India in 2015. During this Presidential visit, a number of intergovernmental Agreements/MOUs were signed, which pertained to Sustainable Urban Development; Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises; Polar and Ocean Research; Visa Exemption for Diplomatic Passports; Ageing and Health; and Pharmaceutical products; and education. The momentum of Indo-Swedish relations was further maintained by another landmark visit, of Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to India in 2016 for the ‘Make in India Week’ in Mumbai.  Löfven was accompanied by the largest high level official and business delegation that he has led to any country. He met with his Indian counterpart and the Joint Statement issued after the meeting between the two prime ministers laid down the vision for holistic future cooperation, identifying defence, infrastructure, urban development, education, S&T, environment, health and space as key sectors for enhancing bilateral partnership. The two Prime Ministers also endorsed the creation of an India-Sweden Business Leader Round Table, which would comprise of top business leaders from both countries, to facilitate two-way trade and investments.

Furthermore, several bilateral Institutional Dialogue Mechanisms and Agreements are in place to foster cooperation in different areas, including Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement and Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement. The Indo-Swedish Joint Commission for Economic, Industrial and Scientific Cooperation is the leading institutional mechanism of inter-Governmental dialogue between India and Sweden, at the level of the Ministers of Commerce and Industry in India and the Swedish Minister of Foreign Trade and EU Affairs. The last 18th session of the commission was held in New Delhi in May 2017.

Sweden backs India’s membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and supported India’s membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Sweden has also extended complete support in India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The two countries have been supporting each other for their non-permanent memberships in the UNSC as well as for various positions in different organs of the United Nations and other multilateral fora. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Sweden and the first India-Nordic summit, thus, came at a ripe time. In Sweden, Modi urged top Swedish firms to invest in India, highlighting the importance of strong bilateral business relations for the people of both the countries. The highlight of the bilateral meeting between Indian and Swedish Prime Ministers was the signing of the Joint Innovation Partnership pact and adoption of the Joint Action Plan. The Joint Innovation Partnership is focused at initiating a multi-stakeholder Innovation Partnership for a Sustainable Future, underpinning the mutual commitment to drive prosperity and growth, and to use innovation for addressing societal challenges such as climate change and sustainable development. It has been agreed that the Swedish government will provide more than $59 million for innovation cooperation with India in the field of sustainability and smart cities, which are two key priorities of the Government of India. The two countries will attempt to enhance cooperation in vital areas of renewable energy, women’s skills development and empowerment, space and science, and health and life sciences through the Joint Action Plan. India and Sweden are committed to reviving their traditionally strong defense ties, depicted by Sweden’s interest in proposing the Saab Group’s Gripen-E single-engine jet fighter for the Indian Air Force. The two countries have also decided to establish a common task force on cyber security and are talking about mutual protection of classified information for cooperation in the defense sector. They are also trying to encourage private sector stakeholders to develop supply chains for small and medium sized enterprises with major defense and aerospace original equipment manufacturers.

Mutual economic interests have emerged as the driving force of the Indo-Swedish relationship, with sustained growth in bilateral trade, which crossed US$2 billion in 2009-10 and increased to US$2.4 billion in 2014-15. Two-way investments between the countries are also expanding and there exist complementarities in the realm of cutting edge technologies, creating great potential for bilateral cooperation in key areas like green technologies, renewable energy, smart infrastructure, healthcare and defence. India is Sweden’s 19th largest export market and its third largest Asian trade partner after China and Japan. The core Swedish exports to India are communication equipment, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals, paper & pulp products, chemicals and engineering products and the main Indian export  items to Sweden are garments, textiles, chemical products, food products, and semi manufactured and manufactured goods. Many Indian IT, Pharma and Biotech companies have representative offices in Sweden. Aditya Birla Group, Bharat Forge and Wipro are among the major Indian investors in Sweden. The cumulative Indian investment in Sweden is roughly in the range of US $700-800 million. Many of the major Swedish companies such as Ericsson, Swedish Match (WIMCO), SKF and ASEA/ABB entered India even before its independence. Since then numerous other Swedish companies like Sandvik, Atlas Copco, Alfa, Laval, Volvo, Astra Zeneca and SAAB have invested in India. Other leading Swedish MNCs namely, the hygiene and forest products company SCA, transport solution provider Scania, and retail giants like H&M and IKEA are among the more recent entrants. With world’s largest furniture retailer IKEA ready to open up its stores very soon in Indian metropolitan cities like Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai, the FDI inflow into India from Sweden will rise substantially. Since reciprocity has been the backbone on India-Swedish relations, Indian retail giants should also take cue and increase their presence in the Swedish market.

There exists significant potential for enhancing bilateral collaboration in key areas like green technologies, renewable energy, smart infrastructure, urban development, education, healthcare, defense, environment, and space. Cultural ties between India and Sweden are promoted mainly by the Embassy with the support of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations and by local associations. Having a Cultural Exchange Agreement between the two countries will enhance their people to people ties even further.  On the one hand, the Government of India has introduced eTourist Visa (eTV) scheme for Swedish nationals which is a step forward in people to people connectivity, and on the other hand, India has already begun to dominate work migration into Sweden from outside European Union. The number of Indians visiting Sweden for business and leisure has also grown significantly in recent years. The recent establishment of direct air-connectivity between the two countries is expected to further increase this number.

India-Finland Relations

The diplomatic ties of India and Finland date back to 1949, when Finland assigned its first Resident Ambassador in India, which was followed by India opening its Diplomatic Mission in Helsinki in the year 1968. Indo-Finnish relations are warm and cordial, as seen through the sizeable increase in the frequency of high level political and commercial inter-country engagements, including the exchange of the visits of the Prime Ministers of both the countries in the same calendar year of 2006.

The India-Finland Joint Commission deals with areas like bilateral trade relations (including trade barriers); their enhancement and potential, and examines scope for new avenues of collaboration. Trade has emerged as one of the corner stones of Indo-Finnish relations; both India and Finland enjoy a progressive commercial association, with their annual imports and exports growing along an upward trajectory. India’s annual trade with Finland has crossed USD 1 billion, making India Finland’s fourth largest trading partner in Asia. India mainly exports garments, textiles, metals, iron and steel, chemicals, petroleum products and leather to Finland, while Finland is an exporter of telecommunication equipment, power generating machinery, eclectic and other machinery to India. As per official figures, Finnish investments in India were around USD 419 million between April 2000 and July 2017. India has emerged to be a demanding market for the high technology Finnish industries, which have been reaping the benefits of the rapidly growing Indian economy. So far only 30 Indian companies, mainly in the software and consultancy sector, have presence in Finland as compared to 130 Finnish companies having operations in India. While Indian corporate giants like Wipro, Infosys, Tata Consultancy services, Zensar Technologies Ltd. and Tooltech Europe Oy etc. have already made a niche presence in Finland, there is much more potential for Indian companies to invest in Finland’s highly favourable market. The scope of cooperation between India and Finland spans across a wide range of sectors and both the countries are well-equipped to capitalize on one another’s areas of comparative advantage.

There are several bilateral agreements and MoUs in place between the two countries, including an Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation, Cultural Agreement, MoUs on Textiles, cooperation on Information Security, Renewable Energy and Biotechnology, Air Services Agreement, Bilateral agreement on Promotion & Protection of Investments and Agreement for Cooperation in the Fields of Science & Technology, among others. Indo-Finnish cooperation, however, needs to be strategically remolded in order to overcome the current limitations whilst leveraging the existing strengths. On the one hand, India will gain access to a highly advanced technology by collaborating with Finnish entities and on the other, Finland will benefit from cost reduction and prospects for jointly developing products and technologies through collaboration with India. Drawing from the strengths of the two countries and the obvious complementarities, the most striking sectors of Indo-Finnish collaboration are Environment, Biosciences and Pharma, Renewable Energy, Science & Technology, Telecom/IT, Paper & Pulp. Moreover, post the recent India-Nordic Summit, the Indian and Finnish Prime Ministers discussed the potential of expanding and enhancing bilateral cooperation in Science and energy, Trade and investment, Renewable energy, Space, Waste management, Start-up, Education. India offers Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA) to nationals from Finland which has enhanced the people to people connect between the two countries and also boosted the Indian tourism sector. Additionally, the direct flights operating between India and Finland have further expanded the potential of increased connectivity, trade and cultural ties between the two sides and should be leveraged effectively.

India-Norway Relations 

Norway was among the very first countries to acknowledge India’s independence, on Independence Day itself in 1947. The Embassy of Norway in India was established soon after in 1952, the same year as a fisheries project was initiated in Kerala, marking Norway’s very first international development cooperation project.  Norway re-established the General Consulate in Mumbai with a mandate to further enhance Indo-Norwegian business ties in the year 2015. Norwegian investments in India are estimated to around USD 14 billion and Norwegian businesses have directly generated at least 15,000 jobs in India. Indo-Norwegian cooperation comprises extensive areas such as energy, climate change, biodiversity and environment, clean technologies, health, geo-hazards, gender, culture, local governance and business. People to people connect is also a vital part of Indo-Norwegian partnership and the substantial increase in the number of Indian visa applications over the last few years is a testimony to the ever-growing Indian tourism in Norway. This does not come as a surprise as Norway is well known for its natural, untouched beauty, clean water and fjords; it also has eight attractions listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Government of India has also introduced eTourist Visa (eTV) scheme for Norwegian tourists on order to boost tourism and cultural ties.

The countries are witnessing a spurt in bilateral investments, trade, transfer-of-technology and other contacts. The current growth trends in Indo-Norwegian economic and commercial ties are fuelled by convergence of interest, particularly in sectors such as deep off-shore, shipping, hydro-electricity, Information Technology, Bio-Technology and light consumer goods. A number of Joint Working Groups on Environment, Science and Technology, Higher Education, Hydrocarbons, Culture, Maritime Matters and Mutual Cooperation on Local Governance have been established under the auspices of the India-Norway Joint Commission. Mutual interests and respect have built the foundation of Indo-Norwegian partnership. Working together to resolve the contemporary global challenges in inter-related areas such as environment, climate change and energy is in the self interest of both the countries. India and Norway deepened their synergy in the area of Polar Research, as Norway extended full support to India in becoming a permanent observer in the Arctic Council in 2013.  Furthermore, the Former Indian Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Salman Khurshid was given first-hand insights and knowledge of Artic developments and the significant polar research carried through by Indian researchers during his visit to Svalbard. Collaboration on the Arctic front between India, Norway and the rest of the Nordic countries is highly imperative, since all of them share the same views about the importance of the Arctic region, which is presently being eyed by the entire world as it is an essential resource of minerals, natural gas, oil, metals etc.  

Norway’s world-leading maritime industry is a paragon of innovation and high quality. On the one hand, Norwegian designs are being used by Indian yards to build ships for Norwegian companies and on the other, Norwegian yards are building specialized vessels for the Indian industry. Moreover, Norwegian equipment is being installed in Indian ships and technology transfer from Norway into India is in full swing in the maritime sector. The maritime industry of Norway has already developed business synergies with India and is eager to do much more. Some areas identified for collaboration in the maritime domain are Inland Waterways and Coastal Shipping, LNG based Shipping and Cooperation in Ports and Sustainable Shipping. Additionally, the Norwegian maritime prowess can immensely benefit the Indian Naval Sector as well.

Bilateral talks between the Indian and Norwegian Prime Ministers, which followed the India-Nordic Summit in 2018, focused on boosting relations between the two countries especially in areas of innovation, clean and renewable energy, trade and investment, shipping and port-development, blue economy, health, IT and green transport solutions. While Norway is primarily drawn towards India’s development model, democracy, diversity, size, and economic growth, India widely appreciates Norway’s own global efforts for peace and development. The development of multifaceted economic linkages between the two countries has been facilitated by their cordial and cooperative relationship at the government level.

India-Denmark Relations

The foundation of the Indo-Danish bilateral relations was laid in 1957, when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited Denmark. The two countries shared a cordial and friendly relationship based on synergies in political, economic, academic and research fields. Denmark played a vital role during India’s pre-economic reforms days by supporting several good projects in India. The so-called white revolution which made India self-sufficient in milk production was also inspired by the Danish dairy industry. This friendly relationship endured until July 2011, when the relations got severely affected due to non-extradition of Niels Holck Nielsen a.k.a Kim Davy, a Danish national involved in the Purulia Arms Dropping Case [2]in 1995. This became a setback in Indo-Danish relations and while Denmark offers visas to Indian travelers unconditionally, India is known to not issue visas to Danish media persons, government officials, and even those in politics and culture. However, India and Denmark seem ready to rekindle their historic ties and get past their differences, to focus on the larger picture of a mutually beneficial strategic partnership. The recent meetings between the two Prime Ministers in 2018 and foreign ministers in 2017, signal towards improved relations.

In the past, there have been periodic high level visits between the two countries including the State visit of Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the then Prime Minister of Denmark in February 2008. During this visit, he launched an ‘India Action Plan’, which called for strengthening of the political dialogue and enhancing of cooperation between the two countries in trade and investments, research in energy, climate and environment, science and technology, culture and education. Rasmussen had also underlined that India was a key player in tackling climate issues and Denmark was a prime candidate to assist India in its green transition. India and Denmark agreed to set up three new Joint Working Groups on Shipping; Food, Agriculture and Fisheries; and Environment and further agreed to convert the three joint committees established earlier into Joint working Groups, viz. Biotechnology; New and Renewable Energy; and Labour Mobility.

Some significant existing Bilateral Treaties and Agreements between India and Denmark are the Protocol on Avoidance of Double Taxation (DTAA), Technical Cooperation Agreement, Agreement on an Integrated Fisheries Project, Joint Business Council Agreement between FICCI and the Danish Industry, MOUs on cooperation in Biotechnology, New and Renewable Energy, Clean Development Mechanism, Environment, Labour Mobility Partnership and Social Security Agreement.

The annual bilateral trade between India and Denmark has reached close to the $3 billion mark. Indian companies have established their presence in renewable energy, biotechnology and IT sectors of Denmark. Over 125 Danish companies have invested in India and their major investments comprise sectors like port modernization and expansion, beer breweries, wind turbine manufacturing, agro-intermediates, and the engineering sector. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), L&T Infotech, Infosys Technologies, ITC Infotech and Mahindra Satyam have been operating in Denmark but the presence of Indian companies in Denmark is still rather limited. One primary factor responsible for the shortage of Indian entities in Denmark was the absence of a direct flight between India and Denmark, an impediment which is now being overcome with the recently introduced direct flights between New Delhi and Copenhagen.

Moreover, as part of the bilateral talks between the Indian and Danish Prime Ministers held in 2018, it was agreed that Denmark would soon open a Danish culture institute in New Delhi in a bid to promote Denmark’s connections in the country.  The two countries also signed MOUs on Urban Development, Animal Husbandry, Food Safety and Agricultural Research. India’s interest lies particularly in attracting investment from Denmark’s offshore wind industry, whereby renewable energy shall be crucial component of economic cooperation between the two sides. Danish sustainable energy and innovation have been of great use to India in the past, as have its agricultural and food solutions. Presently, India is in dire need of revamping its agriculture sector, which can effectively be boosted by the expertise and know-how of Danish food sector companies. This transfer of knowledge will also benefit Denmark by creating more Danish jobs in India. 

India-Iceland Relations

India and Iceland have shared a friendly relationship based on mutuality of interests and shared values, regardless of their distance and contrasting population size. The opening of resident missions in New Delhi in February 2006 and in Reykjavik in August 2008, following a series of high level visits since 2000, have sustained the spirit of India-Icelandic bilateral relations. Among the most significant ones were the official visit of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of India, to Iceland in 2005, and the multiple visits of Dr. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, President of Iceland, to India in the year 2000 and then in 2005, 2007 and 2008 to attend the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit. President Grimsson also paid a State Visit to India in the year 2010 in order to receive the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, for his role in the Six Nations’ Peace Initiative in the 1980s. The award was presented during a special ceremony hosted at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where Grimsson announced that he will use the prize, ISK 13.5 million (USD 108,000, EUR 75,000), for strengthening the cooperation between Indian and Icelandic soil scientists and glaciologists and for enabling Indian university students to study in Iceland. This announcement took India-Icelandic partnership to new heights.

The mutual trust and understanding between the two countries was testified when Iceland became the first Nordic country to publicly advance support to India’s candidature for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Thereafter, the country has reiterated its stand on India’s candidature on multiple occasions. Iceland, along with other countries, co-sponsored India’s Resolution at the United Nations for June 21 to be declared as the "International Day of Yoga”. This highlights the ardent interest exhibited by Icelanders in Indian culture, especially in yoga, classical dance, music, paintings, food and films, which also attract many Icelandic tourists to India. A bilateral cultural agreement between India and Iceland is already in place and possesses the potential to be enhanced further. The Indo-Icelandic Friendship Society and the Friends of India Forum are active in promoting bilateral cultural ties. In this regard, Reykjavik and Akureyri organized a mini Festival of India in July, 2013. Many such Indian ‘Cuisine Festivals’, ‘India Week’ and lecture series on Indian Ayurveda are  common phenomena in Iceland and should be strongly encouraged. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, an Indian spiritual leader and the founder of the Art of Living, visited Iceland recently in July 2017 where he met with the Prime Minister of Iceland, Mr. Bjarni Benediktsson and interacted with hundreds of Icelanders during a public event ''Meditation 2.0 - Go Deeper'', which was organized in Reykjavik. Such visits also take cultural ties and people to people contact a step further, just as initiatives such as the granting of e-visas to Icelandic nationals by the Government of India do.

Among the most recent developments between the two countries was the bilateral meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Icelandic counterpart Katrin Jakobsdottir, which immediately followed the India-Nordic Summit in April, 2018. The bilateral talks involved deliberations on methods to boost their economic and people-to-people relations. Prime Minster Modi urged Icelandic companies to invest in India, particularly in blue economy and geothermal energy and to strengthen cooperation in education, tourism and culture. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between India and Iceland on the establishment of an ICCR Chair for Hindi Language between the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the University of Iceland. Some Icelandic companies have set up trade relations with Indian companies over the past years; the most prominent among which are EC Software and Greenline Software (IT), Actavis (Pharmaceuticals), Promens HF (Plastic), Kaldara (Turbines), Reykjavik Geothermal (Geothermal Energy), Verkis (Hydro) and Össur (orthopaedics) etc. Össur entered the Indian market directly in September 2014 and is headquartered in Delhi with partnerships in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Pune and Ludhiana. From the Indian side, only Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has operations in Iceland so far, and these poor numbers indicate that the two countries have much more to explore on the bilateral trade and investment front. According to Thorir Ibsen, Ambassador of Iceland to India, tourism and renewable energy, were one of the biggest contributors to Iceland’s resource-based export economy and India's share in tourism has increased steadily by about 50 per cent over the last three years. He also stated that the cumulative trade between the two countries stands at around USD 60 million, with India contributing to nearly one-third of the total. Therefore, India’s share has the potential of being much larger and reflective of its vibrant economy and capable workforce.

India and Iceland have several bilateral agreements and MOUs in place including Double Taxation Avoidance, Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection, Air Services, Sustainable Fisheries Development, Energy, Earthquake prediction research, Cultural Exchange Programme 2010-13, etc. The upcoming and promising areas of cooperation between India and Iceland will comprise renewable energy, fisheries, leather trade, Data Centres, solar panels, poly silicon, electric cars, Lithium batteries, carbon fibre etc.


It is evident that India’s relationship with the Nordic states is an important component of rapidly evolving Indian foreign policy priorities. India’s foreign policy focus, until now, has been on traditional western powers like the United States and major European powers like the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. As a result, the advanced Nordic countries, with whom India shares significant political and economic complementarities and which rank the highest along various human developments indices, were relatively neglected. On the other hand, the Nordic states too were preoccupied in trying to manage their European identities in several ways and India was not really within the spectrum of their attention. However, now, As India is remolding its foreign policy priorities in Europe and as a changing Europe is coming to terms with a rising India, New Delhi’s association with the Nordic states has managed to demonstrate the potential that exists in this partnership with a relatively unexplored part of the world. Major areas of bilateral and multilateral cooperation between India and the Nordic countries that are expected to be established or rekindled are global security, human rights, tackling extremism, the UN’s 2030 Agenda, economic growth, innovation and climate change.

The changing global context in which states like China and Russia are redefining the rules of global governance to their advantage, while India stands out as an economic powerhouse showcasing strong democratic credentials, the discourse in the Nordic states too is undergoing a dramatic shift. A strategic partnership with India is now seen as not merely desirable, but an imperative of changing global realities.


-By Bonita Gupta
August 2, 2018








[1] The Bofors scandal hit the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his Congress party for allegedly receiving kickbacks over the sale of 410 field howitzer guns.

[2] The Purulia arms drop case is the legal case pertaining to an incident on 17 December 1995 in which unauthorized arms were dropped from an Antonov An-26 aircraft in Purulia district in the state of West Bengal in India. The chief accused was "Kim Davy" (real name Niels Holck, alias Niels Christian Nielsen).

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