Norway-India in the new year

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Hon'ble Minister of State for External Affairs, Gen. V K Singh with Ambassador Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg on the Norwegian National Day reception in 2017.

On the first working day of the new year, we look back at how far we have come together, and we look to the future with what’s coming up next. Presenting a summary of Norway-India bilateral relationship so far and the road ahead.

India is an important partner to Norway, where increased trade, investments and economic cooperation with mutual benefits are the topmost priority for our two countries.         

From 2010 to the current period, the number of Norwegian companies established in India has increased from 60 to more than 100.  Another 60 are represented by agents. Indian companies are getting large contracts in Norway. Norwegian investments in India are estimated to around USD 14 billion. In this amount is included the State Pension Fund Global’s investments of around USD 10 billion.  Norwegian businesses have directly generated at least 15 000 jobs in India.

The Norwegian Business Association (India) (NBAI) was established in 2013 with the aim to promote bi-lateral relationships and promote business in general between India and Norway. It has grown to approximately 60 members today. NBAI launched their first annual Business Climate Survey in 2016, finding that the majority of Norwegian companies in India are optimistic about business outlook in India. The next survey will be conducted in 2018.

Norway was among the very first countries to recognize India’s independence, actually on Independence Day itself in 1947 and established an Embassy in 1952, the same year as Norway’s very first international development cooperation, a fisheries project in Kerala, was initiated.  In November 2015, Norway re-established the General Consulate in Mumbai with a mandate to work to further enhance Indo-Norwegian business ties. At the same time of the opening, a meeting in the Joint Commission agreed to establish a new working group in order to strengthen the cooperation on trade and investments.

The overall Indo-Norwegian cooperation covers wide areas such as energy and climate change, energy, environment and biodiversity, clean technologies, geohazards, health, gender, local governance, culture and business. Our partnership is founded on mutual interests and respect. It is in the self-interest of both countries that we work together to solve the global challenges in inter-related areas such as energy, environment and climate change. 

Indians are increasingly interested in visiting Norway. Thus the visa-applications has increased with around 20 % annually the last few years. 

Research and Education

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has financed a 10-year research programme of 20 million NOK annually to follow up on the Norwegian Government’s India strategy (2009). The INDNOR programme is administered by the Norwegian Research Council.  

The Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development, University Grants Commission (UGC), the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) work closely on matters of research and higher education. In line with the Joint Working Group on higher education, we also have a programme to increase mobilization of students and faculty. UGC and SIU launched their call for proposals in May 2014, and the announced the allocation of funds to 15 projects during the official state visit the same year.

Arctic and Polar Research

The year 2013 linked India and Norway closer to one another in questions related to Polar Research. Norway supported India in becoming a permanent observer in the Arctic Council in May 2013. Shortly after, the Former Indian Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Salman Khurshid. visited Svalbard and was given first-hand insights and understanding of Artic developments and the important polar research carried through by Indian researchers. 

India has been present in the Arctic since the Indian research station Himadri Station was established in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, in 2008. With its presence of highly-skilled researchers, and with experience from the Antarctica, India has become a significant contributor to Arctic scientific advancements. Indian students are also studying at The University Centre in Svalbard. Norway arranges Arctic seminars with partners in India on a regular basis. As a result of a joint Indo-Norwegian research call in 2016, 5 new joint projects were selected to receive funding for polar research.

During the last few years, the embassy has been inviting political leaders and parliamentarians from both the ruling and opposition parties to participate in study trips to Norway. They get to take part in an extensive program in the arctic region, visiting with polar and arctic institutions in Tromsø and Svalbard.  Meetings with Norwegian politicians and industries in Oslo are also organized.

Ocean Industries

Norway takes great pride in being one of the world’s leading maritime nations, a key player in an industry considered highly competitive. The maritime industry represents approximately 8, 4 % of the total value creation in Norway. Our maritime industry includes ship owners and managers, ship builders, equipment and service providers, research and innovation. The industry is closely connected to our dynamic oil and gas industry, to the marine sector, and to Norway today being the world’s second biggest exporter of seafood.

The Norwegian maritime industry is known for innovation and high quality. Norway is focusing on maintaining its role as a world-leading maritime nation, maintaining our competitive edge, through continued specialization and offering full range services to the international maritime industry.

An estimated 2000 Indian officers and sailors are working on board Norwegian owned and controlled ships. Norwegian ships make every year 500-600 port calls in India. Indian yards use Norwegian designs and are building ships for Norwegian companies. Norwegian yards are building specialized vessels for Indian companies. Norwegian equipment is installed in Indian ships.

The Norwegian maritime industry has developed many business partnerships in India, and is eager to do more. This is evident from the establishment in 2010 a Joint Working Group Maritime. Some of the areas identified for collaboration, are Coastal Shipping and Inland Waterways, LNG based Shipping, Cooperation in Ports and Sustainable Shipping. The Indian Naval Sector is also one where the Norwegian companies have a lot to contribute. 

Health

The Norway India Partnership Initiative (NIPI) was established in 2006 through a joint statement by the then Prime Ministers. It had a vision to “provide catalytic, strategic support that would make a difference to the scaling up of quality child health services under the National Rural Health Mission”. During the first six years, the initiative focused primarily on four states (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan) and was implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS); the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). In 2017, both countries decided to extend the duration of NIPI to 2021, for which a Memorandum of Understanding was signed recently between both governments.

Culture

Culture is an important part of Norway's diplomatic missions around the world and an integrated part of our foreign policy. Our first White Paper to Parliament on culture was presented in 2013. Among other things, it highlights cultural rights and further cooperation in emerging economies like India – both with Norwegian partners but also in regional or global networks. Norway and India have a culture cooperation agreement, which is the basis of our government-to-government partnership in the field of culture. The Norwegian Embassy in India works with several local and Norwegian partners, currently focusing on contemporary art, dance and music, literature and theatre. Norwegian artists like Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Munch are well-known in India, and continue to attract attention. Norwegian institutions such as Kulturtanken have been working with prestigious organizations like Spic Macay for over 13 years and helping build strong music relations between the countries. 

Norway is increasingly becoming a more attractive location for Indian filmmakers, since 2011, eight Indian films have been shot in Norway.