Indo – Norwegian Ties : Success of Bilateralism
By Srimal Fernando and Prateek Joshi
Oslo, Nov 24: Indo-Norwegian relations trace their roots to the telegraphed message sent by Norwegian foreign minister Halvard Lange to India’s special envoy in Stockholm, V.K. Krishna Menon in February, 1947, six months before India got independence. The Indo-Norwegian bond since then, is a success story of strengthening ties and deepening engagement. The bilateral relations between Norway and India has taken to a higher level in the year 2015 . In October 2015, the President of India, His Excellency Shri Pranab Mukherjee visited Norway, becoming the first Indian head of the state to visit the country. The two nations signed six governmental agreements for cooperation in the fields of earth sciences, culture, scientific research, defense affairs, as well as in consular matters. This was reciprocated by the visit of Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende , on 2nd November 2015 who also co-chaired the Fifth session of Norway-India Joint Commission. The most significant indicator of bilateral relations between the two nations is the Norwegian investments in India which stands around US$ 10 billion. During the last seven decades, Norway and India have engaged in multidimensional cooperation initiatives.
Norway’s Development Assistance to India
Bilateral assistance from 2009-14 amounted to 939 million NOK (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation ,2015) which went into areas like good governance, Economic development, environment, emergency assistance and health. Of the total NORAD ( Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation ) assistance of 110 million NOK in 2014, 47 million NOK was allocated for healthcare. Under NORAD, Norway’s commitment to health in India has contributed to an increased focus on maternal and child health. Child mortality in one of the world’s most populous countries has been reduced by 46 per cent since 1990. Norway is also actively involved in India through the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) for the past few decades.
Norway - India Commercial, Trade, and Economic Cooperation
The current value of trade between India and Norway stands at US $742 million for 2013. Norwegian companies employ 15,000 people in India and Indians currently receive over 20 per cent of the permits for skilled labour given to foreigners who want to work in Norway. Norwegian Pension Fund investments in India amounted to $8.5 billion by end of the 2014.
Cooperation in the field of sustainable development is the next stepping stone in cementing the bilateral ties. In Norway, almost 90 percent of energy consumption is from renewable resources, therefore leaving lessons to learn for India. Norwegian company Statkraft has entered into a partnership with Bharat Light & Power (BLP) to offer distributed solar energy solutions which will be cost effective and will also contribute towards government of India’s vision of solar energy production targets and also towards a green and a clean India.
IndARC, an Indian observatory has been setup in Norway in 2014 to study climate change in greater detail. INDNOR programme started in 2010 under which norway collaborates with India to strengthen Research institutions esp in environment, climate change , clean energy and social development. INDNOR budget for 2010-2014 stood at 100 million NOK.Another major area of cooperation is the seafood industry. Indo-Norwegian partnership in the fishing industry goes back to 1952, when India, Norway and UN signed an agreement to support for the fisheries sector and the National Institute of Fisheries Post Harvest Technology and Training was established in South Indian state of Kerala. Following this fisheries development project Norway has provided assistance in several forms including professional staff, mechanized fishing boats, fishing gear, fish storage, processing facilities along with marketing
Re-Opening Norwegian Consulate-General
The Norwegian Consulate-General in Mumbai was reopened after 42 years (Norway had a mission in Mumbai between 1857 and 1973) and will help streamlining the Norwegian investments which are mostly in maritime industry and in oil and gas explorations , thus making the coastal city of Mumbai an apt location. Mumbai being India’s financial capital it will provide an ease to Norwegians presently operating in India’s highly industrialized western states.
Indo – Norwegian Business Summits
India was chosen as the host for the “Norway Asia Business Summit” held in April, 2015. Around 200 business executives attended this summit, a development that characterizes a growing confidence of Norwegian establishments towards Indian economy. In November 2015, the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and the Norway India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NICCI) entered into an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
India and Norway : Towards A Bright Tomorrow
In addition to this positive bond which both the nations have shared, Norway supports India’s bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. Besides this Norway fully backs India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime, which will give a boost to India’s strategic and economic aspirations.
About the Authors:
Srimal Fernando, International Affairs Expert and a Global Editor for Foreign Exchange Diplomatic Society of South Africa
Prateek Joshi is a International student from India studying Master of Arts (MA) degree in International Relations at the South Asian University
The Oslo Times