Why Modi’s India just can’t have enough of Europe’s minions: What has changed?

20th November 2020

20th November 2020

Illustration: Courtesy Times of India

I want to tell you that India is ramping up its engagements with a few countries many of us would find it difficult to tell on a map. There is Luxembourg and then there are Nordic and Baltic countries we have been dialling up with the kind of fever which could put a Jio internet connection guy to shame.

Now that I am hand-holding, I would tell you that Luxembourg is a landlocked Grand Duchy (a kind of subedars our Mughals used to have in country’s outposts) between France, Germany and Belgium and Nordic (Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark) and Baltic (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) hang like an umbrella over the European continent. Some look even beyond Russia on the map which would give you an idea how remote the region is. These nations have few people and even lesser land and so it’s logical that our prepaid media and economists-on-payroll mock the Modi government for ignoring RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Programme) and snuggling up to minions.

You might have missed in today’s newspapers that prime minister Narendra Modi has called for increased engagements with Luxembourg. He spoke at a virtual summit between the two countries on Thursday even as three financial pacts were inked in and one on space programme was all but signed. And lest you feel we are being benevolent, let me hold your other hand and inform that it could be the other way around.

Luxembourg is the hub of world’s financial and banking activity. It’s a message by default how good they are in the digital space globally. It senses innovation better than others do. It was the steel king of the world in the first half of the 20th century, moved to financial and investment in its closing years and now is driving up the innovation in space and digital world. If it doesn’t widen your eyes that Luxembourg is world’s richest country and so is its per capital income, then it could perhaps that the warning you hear for not wearing car-belt is most probably Luxembourg-made. And if tidbits is your thing, then musical genius OP Nayyar’s daughter Niharica of Total Dhamaal fame was born and raised in this tiny nation and is today the cultural ambassador between Luxembourg and India.

The thing with Nordic and Baltic country is more straightforward. India is looking for new global supply chains, more so since China and Covid-19 are not letting up on its tail. India is looking for land routes so it’s not always worried on Gwadar port and Indo-Pacific sea lanes. Or if China’s Belt and Road Inititiave (BRI) could really hem India in. So it held an India-Nordic-Baltic Conclave a fortnight again which again might have missed you (but then our media is so engrossed in Randeep Surjewala that it has little time for anything else). This region makes a lot of geoeconomics and geostrategic value for India.

So if the International North-South Transport Corridor could be worked out and India could hop on the Trans-European Transport Network’s Rail Baltica, India could have a great many “Green” partnerships. It would offer a shorter route connecting India with Central Asia, Europe and Russia and not always through the conventional halt at Suez Canal.

These are fresh initiatives which like everything good about Modi government, is kept away from our attention by the prepaid media. Barely any Indian leader has visited these shores all these years. No longer though. Leaders of Lithuania and Latvia visited New Delhi in 2016 and 2017. Estonia’s IT minister did so in 2018. Indians reciprocated. Vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu visited all these three Baltic nations last year.

These eight Nordic and Baltic regions are extremely advanced, scientifically and technology-wise—a street right up India’s technology firms. Nordic nations indeed is being lapped up by India’s IT sector. Future technologies, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and 5G possibilities abound.

All this surely would be driven up a notch higher if the Baltic countries were to have their embassies in India. But I am sure it would happen, sooner than later.

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