This weekend of February the 12th, the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfvén will make an important official visit to India. “Make in India Week”, a large conference is taking place hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with whom the Swedish Prime Minister will have deliberations. Sweden, together with Japan is the only partner countries to this conference. Can this trip possibly clarify the importance of Sweden and India becoming closer partners? And why is it so important? The answer to both questions is yes, and here is why:
Programs like “Make in India” are Prime Minister Modi’s way of jump-starting an industrialisation process. The major part of Swedish corporate manufacturing left Sweden a long time back setting up factories, among other places, in India. Today Swedish companies employ over 140 000 directly in India, with roughly an additional one million people indirectly. That signifies the importance of the visit.
A top lead business delegation headed by Marcus Wallenberg, Chairman of SEB, Martin Lundstedt CEO of Volvo Group and Håkan Bhuske, CEO of SAAB Group, government agencies, and other executives are participating in the Prime Ministers’ delegation.
India is its states
Showing up with the top business leaders is important in India, as it actually is anywhere else in the world. Organised by Business Sweden, a very large Swedish pavilion, which will be inaugurated by the Prime Ministers, has been set up to show case Sweden’s footprint in India. Sweden might be a small country, but with its corporate giants, in an advanced stage of sustainable ways of manufacturing and conducting business, Swedish industry clearly makes a difference in India.
Close relations and partnerships are highly important and valued by our Indian counter parts. India needs manufacturing and technologies; Sweden needs engineers and access to one of the largest markets in the world. Given that there is very little political baggage in doing business with a small country, the game should be set and it couldn’t be clearer. India is the only shining economic example in a global context with a growth rate of above 7%. But companies do not do business with the whole country, just parts of it.
With its inhabitants of 120 million and 80 million respectively, Maharashtra and Gujarat grew at an cumulative average growth rate of 8,5% throughout parts of the global melt down from 2008 to 2013. Strategies become easier to grasp if India is “broken down” into states, and one will find similar stories in other progressive regions of the country.
So wherein lies the “hiccups”?
Clearly the Indian image has not been the best, and one can pick and choose among many “un-favourables”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi understood this very well; hence he has rallied not only the country, but also world opinion of India, in just one year. In addition to that, the bureaucratic establishment has started to move in a speed and structure never seen before. By establishing various programs like “Make in India”, “Digital India” and “Clean India”, he has set the tone for a new era, one that there is no turning back from. So there is no reason for Swedish companies to hold back. As with a strong poker hand – its all in.