Speech by the Ambassador of India, Ms. Chitra Narayanan,
at a Seminar in Stockholm related to the visit of a Delegation from
the Confederation of Indian Industries, CII, on 7 October, 2002.
Honourable Minister of Trade Mr. Leif
Pagrotsky, Mr. Michael Trescow, Mr.
Ashok Soota and members of the Indian delegation,
distinguished representatives of industry from India and Sweden,
May I express my appreciation to Minister Pagrotsky for his encouragement
and support for the productive success of this seminar.
1. I would like to express
my appreciation to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, the Swedish
Trade Council and the Federation of Trade for organising this seminar
India and Sweden New Vistas of Cooperation on the occasion of the
visit to Sweden of distinguished CEOs from the Confederation of Indian
Industries. In August 2001, Mr. Ashok Soota, CEO of Mindtree, visited
Stockholm as Vice President of CII and made a commitment to me that he
would bring a high level business delegation to Stockholm to facilitate
a direct dialogue with significant players in Swedish industry. As you
can see, Mr. Soota, now President of CII, has kept his word. Thank you.
2. In December 2000
Environment Minister Mr. Kjell Larsson visited
India with a twenty member delegation to explore collaboration in environment
technology. The visit gave the required impetus to energize business relations.
Todays seminar is a result of the energy generated by Mr. Larssons
3. India and Sweden
have been economic companions for over a century. As in all relationships,
there are moments when both partners must step back and look upon each
other with a fresh perspective. This is particularly necessary when both
countries have evolved tremendously and in the case of India, changed
dramatically in certain sectors. The old preconceived notions are not
necessarily valid today and it is crucial that this aspect must be realised
4. Asia is a formidable
economic factor in todays world and India a major Asian player.
With a middle class of 300 million a little over the size of the population
of the United States, it is understandable that USA and Europe consider
India a vital market for their trade interests. It is often forgotten
that India is the size of Europe with some states the size of entire European
nations. Many in Sweden find it difficult to conceive and appreciate the
enormous task of governance of a country this size and with 1 billion
people and at the same time remain a vibrant democracy. A further aspect
to be taken into account is that Indias trade experience with USA
is not familiar or well known in Sweden even in the IT sector, particularly
as the latter is the major IT power in Europe. The closely knitted cohesion
between industry, development activities and foreign policy in Sweden
is greatly admired all over Europe. Indian business companies doing business
with Sweden would find it useful to take these factors into account. This
would make a major difference in overcoming the perception gap.
5. Today India is a
major economic player. There are studies projecting that if the present
economic trend continues, China will overtake the USA in the global output,
with India becoming the third largest economy by 2012. Indias GDP
growth rate has risen from 5.0% in 1980 to 6.0% during 2000-2001 and the
trend continues. In keeping with our obligations under the WTO regime
substantial quantitative restrictions on imports have been phased out
and the Foreign Direct Investment or FDI regime has been substantially
liberalized over the past few years. Globalisation has raised aspirations.
Indians are no longer willing to tolerate poverty. They want to go up
in the income stream and believe it is their right to be prosperous. However,
the globalisation process tends to be inequitably balanced. Developed
countries protect their markets as and when it suits their domestic compulsions.
The globalisation process must be recast around the principles of equal
opportunities and just multilateral institutions. Sweden appreciates Indias
viewpoint and our cooperation in the multilateral fora including the EU
and WTO has been productive.
6. A November 2001 Forrester
research study on India indicates that by 2003 a large number of companies
will engage offshore providers who are gaining greater acceptability as
the budgets for the offshore activities are expected to go up to 28% from
the current 12%. This study highlights the advantages of India with its
decade old experience in the IT development area, fluency in English,
supportive government policy, good infrastructure and high quality professionals.
Another survey by Mckinsey comparing international costs concluded that
the cost of doing offshore software development in India was almost 30
80% lower as compared to that in the US or in Europe. This is a
result of the expanding stock of Indian talent base, which forms the second
largest pool of English speaking scientific manpower, and which is likely
to be tripled by 2008.
7. The Indian Copyrights
Act has been made one of the most stringent in the world. I would like
to quote from London Financial Times of August 20, 2002 FDI in India
has more than doubled over the last year in spite of international fear.
In particular the mobile phone market, doubling every year with more than
7 million customers, is attracting large scale inflows from companies
such as AT&T and Hutchinson Telecom US and European companies are
also investing heavily in Indias call center industry, which is
growing by 70% a year. Economists predict that FDI in the countrys
growing biotech and pharmaceutical sectors will grow sharply following
the enactment of a bill earlier this year bringing Indias intellectual
property rights into line with World Trade Organization standards.
8. 15 major Indian IT
companies have established their presence in Sweden. The latest agreement
of a letter of intent between Ericsson and Wipro which will take over
Ericssons R&D units in India under an outsourcing contract is
an example of collaboration for mutual benefit. This seems to be a star-studded
week for Indian industry. Apart from the distinguished delegation visiting
Sweden, currently, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt
is in India to interact with 19,000 GE professionals handling GEs
presence in India in aircraft engines, broadcasting, capital services,
lighting and medical instruments. The recently established John
F. Welch Technology Centre in Bangalore is Indias first and
largest industry multi disciplinary research center.
Currently, the CEO of American Express Ken Chenault
is inaugurating their first global service center in India. Texas Instruments
Chairman and CEO Tom Engibous is visiting
Indias IT capital Bangalore. Shantanu Narayen,
Executive Vice President, Adobe India is inaugurating this week the companys
largest research and development facility outside the US.
Honeywell in its new strategy for India released last week, has declared
its expansion plan to increase by 1,000 its current strength of 2025 engineers,
to further its activities in India in aerospace, transportation, power
equipment and specialty materials, in particular manufacturing Spectra
Also this week the Rector of the KTH, Anders Flodström,
is visiting India with 11 distinguished professors, to meet with partner
institutes and the steel and automotive industry. The US is Indias
largest single trade partner. The European Union remains Indias
largest trading partner, accounting for 23.37 per cent of Indias
exports and 20.75 per cent of total Indian imports in the year 2000-2001.
9. Sweden has made its
presence felt in Indian even before independence. Ericsson supplied manual
switchboards since 1903 and today there are over 100 Indo-Swedish joint
ventures from engineering to pharmaceuticals. In addition, Swedish companies
have concluded over 200 technical cooperation agreements. However, bilateral
India Swedish trade is modest. Perhaps it is time to explore collaboration
for third country export particularly in areas of mutual interest like
the Baltic States and the EU candidate countries which have a tradition
of trade with India. India is committed to convert the digital opportunity
into a digital destiny while bridging the digital divide and we welcome
our Swedish friends to jointly explore and exploit and share the opportunities
in e-commerce, IT enabled services, Biotics, environmental technology,
telecommunications, wireless and cellular telephony, infotainment, convergence
and digitalization, new access devices for the internet, R&D and many
other areas where Sweden has expertise. I am sure this seminar will go
a long way towards exploring challenges and opportunities and I wish it
10. Though subconsciously
many are familiar with facts about Indian achievements this may be an
appropriate opportunity to name a few. India has contributed 6 Nobel Laureates
to the world, the first in 1913 was the poet Rabindranath
Tagore, who visited Sweden more than once. The other Nobel Laureates
were the Physicist C.V. Raman in 1930 for
the discovery of the Raman Effect in optics, Amartya
Sen in Economics, Mother Teresa for
Peace, Hargobind Khorana for genetics, S.
Chandrasekhar, the astrophysicist.
The Indian physicist S.N. Boses work
on light particles together with Einstein
came to be known as the Bose-Einstein Effect. In more recent times, another
Indian, Amar Bose a professor of electrical
engineering at MIT revolutionized stereo systems with his design concepts
known as Bose Speakers to deliver the emotional impact of live music.
Arun Netrevelli, former President of Bell
Laboratories, holds more than 70 patents in the areas of computer networks,
human interfaces to machines and digital television.
Hotmail was created by Sabeer Bhatia who
sold it to Microsoft for US $ 400 million. The Pentium chip was created
by another Indian, Vinod Dhami. India is
amongst the few countries who have sent their own satellites into space
more than 10. The first Indian in space was Rakesh
Sharma who went into space with a Russian space vehicle on 2 April
1984. And these achievements are already considered in India as history
together with the contribution between 1200 and 500 BC of the concept
of numerals the zero, minus sign and theories in algebra, geometry and
11. I would like to
emphasise that we would like to expand our trade relations with Sweden.
We want to do business with Sweden. We want a trade relationship that
is based on mutual respect and benefit. All nations have their idiosyncrasies.
India is a large country with a large bureaucracy essential to govern
and facilitate our domestic demands. Democracy is fundamental to our system
and like all nations who believe in free speech and fundamental rights,
there is a process for everything. Anyone who has waited in a chemist,
clinic or bank in Stockholm will understand.
12. In conclusion I
would like to mention that although the West has endowed us with the image
of a spiritual nation with our great philosophical and spiritual heritage
we must not allow others to forget that India is, and was, from ancient
times fundamentally a trading nation. India is a union of federal states
and multilingual and multicultural. It is a tribute to democracy that
such a vast country can be governed without sacrificing democratic principles.
Maybe our progress is not as fast as we would like it to be, maybe it
will take longer to reach our goals and yes, there is much to be done
to close the gap between the rich and the poor, but the individual has
rights and dignity and the freedom to exercise these rights and this is
what makes India part of the free world.