is why SASNET was recently represented by staff member Jan Magnusson
when the 14th session of the Indo-Swedish Joint Commission was held on
1-2 April in New Delhi. The Commissions agenda consisted mainly of issues
of industry and trade but also science and technology. The Swedish delegation
was led by Sweden’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr Leif
Pagrotsky. The Indian delegation was led by Indian Minister of
Commerce and Industry, Mr Arun Jaitley, sided by joint
secretaries and other representatives mainly from the Ministry of Commerce
and Industry and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.
Besides representatives from the embassy, the Swedish Ministry
of Industry and Trade, and the Foreign Ministry, the Swedish delegation
also included a number of CEOs from Swedish companies active in India
as well as representatives from several Swedish industry and trade organizations.
SASNET’s participation was motivated by its aim to network and stimulate
interaction between the research sector and the business sector in Sweden
After their introductory speeches the two ministers departed
for other meetings and special programs. The business representatives
also followed their own program including a business summit and study
visits at some leading Indian industries in New Delhi.
The working session was led by Ms Eva Walder-Brundin,
Deputy Director General at the Swedish Foreign Department’s Dept.
for Asia and the Pacific, and S Jagadeesan, Joint Secretary
at the Dept. of Industrial Policy and Promotion, joined by Secretary V
Govindarajan on the second day.
An overview of how to do business in India was presented
by Dr R N Pandey from the Dept. of Industrial Policy
and Promotion (available as printed power point sheets from SASNET). Pointing
out that India is the second largest emerging market today Dr Pandey described
a more foreign investment friendly Indian government policy. He also talked
about simplified procedures of interaction through so called “single
windows”, “fast track committees”, and “pro-active
one stop after care service” facilities for foreign investors. To
be more accessible for foreign investors the Dept. of Industrial Policy
and Promotion has launched a new website at http://www.dipp.nic.in.
SASNET facilitating intermediary in bilateral research
The Joint Commission’s agenda included issues relating
to trade, investment and WTO matters, custom cooperation agreements, public
procurement, infrastructure (power and energy, public sector, privatization
policies), science collaboration over water supply and treatment, inland
waterways and construction based industries, industrial cooperation in
the biotechnology and food processing sectors and the steel industry,
and IT. SASNET was given the opportunity to add a statement to the official
minutes regarding SASNET’s role as a facilitating intermediary in
bilateral research interaction, as well as in the identification of potential
Swedish collaboration partners for Indian research institutions and individual
During the deliberations the Indian side repeatedly expressed
its interest in technology transfer while the Swedish side- representing
concerns and problems of Swedish companies operating in India- pointed
to what it conceived as inadequacies in the Indian rules and regulations
surrounding foreign investment and trade tariffs. Many Swedish companies
feel that India is an unpredictable business environment and prefer clear,
general principles and equal treatment of all foreign companies. It seems
that foreign companies are presently able to bargain special tariffs and
concessions for themselves. The Indian side replied that they could not
answer in general terms, and asked the companies to send them the exact
details of their particular problem to see what could be worked out. The
general feeling on the Swedish side was that the commission did not get
very far on this issue.
Future development cooperation a programme between equal
Technology transfer was also the subject when Swedish development
co-operation with India was discussed. The Indian side explicitly pointed
out water treatment technology and the areas of rural and urban development.
India is primarily interested in technical capacity building in local
authorities in conservation (such as in problems of sustainability of
soils and depleting groundwater), water treatment, recycling and solid
waste management. An USD 8 million water sanitation program supported
by the World Bank and Sida was especially mentioned as a focus sector
for future development cooperation between India and Sweden. Mr Ove
Andersson, head of the Sida section at the Swedish embassy in
New Delhi, emphasized that it was a program between equal partners.
Before the session, SASNET had submitted three so called
1. SASNET regrets the new guidelines for research interaction
between India and the rest of the world issued by the Ministry of Human
Resource Development on January 31 2003. We would like the Government
of India to change them in a more liberal direction in order to promote
academic exchange and cooperation.
2. In view of the new guidelines, SASNET would like to offer all possible
help in providing information so that applications can be handled swiftly
and there will be no delay in implementing various types of exchanges
and cooperation. SASNET is also willing to help handling the applications
by Indian scholars and students for Swedish visas.
3. SASNET requests that the Government of India approves the application
by the Nordic Centre in India to open a liaison office in new Delhi.
More information on Nordic Centre in
The talking points were met by C Balakrishnan,
Joint Secretary who had been called from the Ministry of Human Resource
Development (MHRD). He replied that there would not be any problems or
delays with applications, but that MHRD wanted to enter so called “umbrella
agreements” through diplomatic channels. He further stated that
the guidelines are not intended to prevent research collaboration but
to provide the MHRD with an overview of contacts between Indian and foreign
research institutions. As for the Nordic Centre in India’s application
(which was submitted in March , 2001) Balakrishnan said that it was back
on “the highest level” and that a decision could be expected
within a couple of months.