The climate challenge continues to make headlines, with freak weather events, warm winters and warmer summers, we are in for cataclysmic change. And, as we work as a global community to meet our common future, it is important that we do so understanding that there is nothing to be gained by apportioning blame without information. India has struggled with its position on climate change, as a country that has openly said that it is paying the price for others’ industrialization, it is now one of the leaders of the climate challenge. It was Prime Minister Modi that opened the Indian market to the country’s full potential on solar development and initiated the International Solar Alliance, which today has 122 member countries. Foreign direct investment in renewable energy has been opened up, to allow for international joint partnerships. Within the domestic economy, work is being done to battle a mind-set change. The Clean India Campaign (Swachh Bharat), Smart Cities, Financial Inclusion are all steps being taken to facilitate a shift that leads to productive change.


I often hear that “it’s my job to be positive about the Indian economy”. We all know that bad news dominates the media, and even one can argue that it’s the readers’ fault, it does not mean that there aren’t great things happening out there. So yes, it is our job to ensure that you as a member of the Sweden-India Business Council is better prepared, have better insights and also better means than anyone to reach such understanding in the Sweden-India corridor. It’s very important that our members have a good understanding of the ground reality, which if you listen to the opposition, is that the ground reality remains unchanged. And, this is like everything in India, also true, some things have not changed. But that’s very different to saying nothing has happened on the ground. The truth is actually quite different, the truth is far from unchanged.


Results have started, but it will take time. India’s 1.2 billion has seen an exponential rise in its gross national income from $440 in 2000 to $1800 in 2018, according to the World Bank. India’s National Climate Change Action Plan focuses on reducing industrial emissions and having 40 per cent of non-fossil fuels by 2030. And, with the Cabinet on February 28, approving FAME II (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) we can see that changes are happening. With its 2009 National Action Plan on Climate Change, India made clear its understanding of the climate challenge. But under the Modi led government, meeting this challenge was put into quantitively mission mode. Creating market friendly mechanisms for positive climate impact has been at the heart of Modi’s initiatives. Talking from a point of superiority does not win any brownie points!

ISBLRT organizing team with our Co-chairs. From the left: Kavita Chowdhry, CII, Arati Davis, SIBC, Robin Sukhia, SIBC, Baba Kalyani, Co-chair ISBLRT, Marcus Wallenberg, Co-chair, Håkan Kingstedt, SIBC, Cecilia Oldne, SIBC, Magnus Schöldtz, Wallenberg Foundation, Phani Koundinya, Bharat Forge.

On February 22, SIBC and CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) conducted the third India Sweden Business Leaders’ Roundtable in Delhi, consisting of the CEOs, Chairmen and owners of Sweden and India’s largest companies as members. The meeting was led by the group’s co-chairs Marcus Wallenberg and Baba Kalyani as usual, in the presence of Suresh Pradbhu, Minister for Commerce, Industry and Civil Aviation and Lena Hallengren, Minister for Health and Social Affairs. During the almost full day deliberations, I had the pleasure to spend time with most of the members and participants and discuss various important topics. At our Council, we have often said that in business, especially large businesses, it takes a lot of time, several years to be more correct, for a large company to re-focus and integrate a country as large as India into its global supply chain and make it a focused market for its products and services. Likely, a full political election period of 4-5 years. We have yet to see the all the possibilities India has to offer, and yes, India has to ensure to offer them too. Swedish companies are on the forefront of sustainability and thanks to their large presence in India, they are many times a bearing point for global sustainable industry. In the Smart City Joint Working group of ISBLRT, led by the CEO of Teknikföretagen Klas Wåhlberg and CII’s Director General Chandrajit Banerji also work focused with SMEs and various solutions based on the case at hand, providing a full integrated approach for all our members interested in being part of the Smart City opportunities.


Prior to 2014, the Indian governing complacency is well known. The vision and mission that the Prime Minister came to power with, and has since been led by, is nothing less than impressive, especially given the huge challenges this large democracy face. Modi has rallied people in India to focus on certain country changing initiatives, including the changing of mindsets. ‘Make in India’ is the most well-known initiative and probably most talked about given that the government’s idea was for companies to set up manufacturing in India and thus create more simple jobs. In 2014, the discussion on manufacturing was still that this was the case. Even though today, the government knows that the increase in automation in new manufacturing plants in India will not create the same number of jobs in the plants themselves, they will create jobs in the supply chain and the manufacturing eco- system.


‘Make in India’ today has its fierce focus on simplifying rules and regulations – the Ease of Doing Business, which in the end, will enable new businesses and make all the difference for a foreign Direct Investor or a local investor. Here, the government is moving very fast.

Did you know that the Modi government has terminated 1,500 archaic laws? News Magazine ‘India Today’, July 19 issue says “While successive governments could remove just 1,301 obsolete laws which came in the way of smooth administration and economic growth in 66 years, the present central government has managed to weed out as many as 1,500 Acts in just three years.

As many as 2,000 more obsolete central Acts not consonant with the times have also been identified for quick termination with useful assistance from the Law Commission, sources said”.


How is this just one example of the government’s firm stance on change not amazing? Another example is the government’s understanding by highlighting start-ups (Start-up India), where there is a clear realization that jobs are created at all levels. Take the example of Indian former start-up (unicorn) Swiggy, which offers an on-demand food delivery platform (like Uber eats or foodora). Founded in 2014, and has over 6000 employees today, valued at USD 3.3 billion, with a USD 62 million turnover. The point is that head office has educated staff, but thousands are in delivery chain and in the restaurant industry, who have been given a huge opportunity to stay in business by reaching a much larger customer base.


Sweden India Tech Community – SITEC, the 2018 formed by among others SIBC, is an initiative to bridge the Swedish and Indian start-up communities. In 2018, two delegations were conducted in each direction, and in 2019, the same will happen, though perhaps in an even larger scale.

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