The second India-Nordic summit: A huge impetus to regional partnership
Some of Modi’s most significant engagements during this tour would probably be in Copenhagen, Denmark, which he will visit bilaterally as also for the second India-Nordic Summit with leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Germany, Denmark and France begining May 2, marking his first foreign tour this year.
Some of his most significant engagements during this tour would probably be in Copenhagen, Denmark, which he will visit bilaterally as also for the second India-Nordic Summit with leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
The first India-Nordic Summit was held in Stockholm in April 2018. The second summit, earlier scheduled to take place in June 2021, has been re-convened without much delay. Modi will meet the prime ministers of the five countries together, followed by one-to-one meetings with the PMs. The significance of this event can be assessed from the fact that the US is the only other country with which the Nordic states have an engagement at the summit level.
India and the Nordic states have huge strengths and complementarities. They share a convergence in values in freedom of speech, religion and media; all are free-market economies and they all promote gender equality.
Nordic countries collectively represent an economy of more than $1.6 trillion.
As per Nordic statistics, total bilateral trade in goods and services between India and the Nordic countries is $13 billion.
Over the last four years, PM Modi has interacted extensively with all the Nordic leaders.
All these countries figure among the top achievers in several areas of human endeavour, particularly innovation, clean energy, green technologies, and education. These present enormous opportunities for India to plug into the strengths of these countries to mutual benefit.
It makes eminent political and economic sense for these countries also to step up their engagement with India. India is the third largest global economy at $9 trillion in purchasing power parity terms. It is also the fastest growing major economy with annual GDP growth of 7.4% in 2022-23. Several wide-ranging initiatives have been taken by India in recent years, including the goods and services tax, etc., which have significantly increased its attractiveness as a business and investment destination.
India presents an ideal opportunity to these countries because of its large market as also its youth dividend.
Maintaining peace, ensuring security and promoting sustainable economic development of the Arctic Region is another area which presents immense possibilities to strengthen bilateral partnership.
The first India-Nordic Summit in 2018 reiterated the six countries’ commitment towards cooperation in global security, economic growth, innovation and climate change. In the second summit, leaders need to build on the success and progress in relations in the preceding years.
Urgent Need to reduce Information Gaps
Modi’s tour of Copenhagen will contribute significantly to realise the immense untapped potential for cooperation. Notwithstanding the explosion of information today, a huge information gap exists between these countries. Decision and policy-makers as well as common people in India have scant knowledge about the Nordic countries, and vice versa.
It is essential to give more energy to this blossoming partnership. The initiative of the India-Nordic Summit needs to be nurtured constantly.
India and Denmark relations witnessed an upswing by visit of then Danish PM Rasmussen to India for the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in 2019. This was followed by a virtual summit between Modi and Danish PM Mette Frederiksen in September 2020, which witnessed the launch of the Green Strategic Partnership. The ties soared with PM Frederiksen’s visit to India in October 2021. This was the first visit by a head of government to India following the Covid-19 pandemic, which is reflective of the extremely close partnership that India and Denmark enjoy.
The writer is former Ambassador to Sweden
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