EDITORIAL, November 17th, 2016
On November 9, Sweden had its biggest delegation ever to leave Sweden for the first yearly meeting of the India Sweden Business Leaders Roundtable, held in Delhi. The delegation was led by the Roundtable’s initiator and co-chair on the Swedish side, the Chairman of SEB and Saab, Mr Marcus Wallenberg. Together with his Indian Co-chair, Mr Baba Kalyani, Chairman and CEO of Bharat Forge and Board member of SKF, both gave excellent opening remarks sharing their vision of future collaboration and the work of ISBLRT.
Preparations for the meeting had been going on since February and expectations were extremely high. The pressure was mounting, especially given the level of the delegates. The very essence of “time is money” was going to sit in the room. Thankfully, the event went off very well! Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Mikael Damberg gave an inspiring opening speech as well, after-which he had seven bilateral meetings in two days, which is really good for Sweden –Indian bilateral relations.
In line with the format of SIBC Dialogue, it is truly a fascinating sight to see this level of CEOs on stage debating and discussing issues for an hour.
Why is ISBLRT so important for the Swedish-Indian industrial relations one might wonder, and where are the small and medium size companies in this respect? There is actually a rather easy answer to this question, but firstly let me provide some background. Sweden is not regarded as a big country in India. Given that India is a huge country, it looks to other big countries for solutions, partnerships and strategic collaborations. Numbers and volume is still an evaluating factor for most of India. Here are some interesting economic facts to balance out the set ideas about Sweden and India: Sweden may have few inhabitants ≈ 0,7% of India, but it’s not a small country; area wise it’s the 3rd largest country in EU with vast natural resources, 23rd largest economy in the world (GDP). India is economically the 7th largest country in the world and area wise only 7 times larger than Sweden. One major way of showing why Sweden is a great partner to India, is to showcase its industry and Sweden’s bilateral fit with India, both as market, its need of Indian engineers, development and innovation as well as manufacturing for domestic sales and for export. Sweden does have its global leading giants like Ericsson, AB Volvo, Ikea and more, which are well known in India, but not necessarily their Swedish origins. So the idea here is that by creating an absolute top-level group of all these companies in a context working for the Indian side too, Sweden suddenly becomes an