Celebration of 400-years of Indo-Danish relations
On February 27, more than 80 people gathered to celebrate 400-years of Indo Danish relations at IDCC’s Annual Meeting ‘Forward Together’.
While we did celebrate by taking stock of the current political, commercial and cultural relationship, the overarching question of the day was how we continue to strengthen the relationship.
With Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jeppe Kofod’s recent visit to India this January, we were excited to learn about the Danish government’s vision for the future bilateral relationship.
Continue reading for a detailed brief of the event.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jeppe Kofod
“We see you as very important partners”
From the very outset, Jeppe Kofod made it clear that Denmark is dedicated towards a close and strong partnership with India. Summarizing the significant development the relationship has gone through in recent years, with the relaunch of the Indo-Danish Joint Commission in 2018, he emphasized the growing Danish presence in India and the several G2G cooperations being launched in key sectors such as Renewable Energy, Smart Cities, Water and Wastewater and Intellectual Property Rights.
Jeppe Kofod shared that a ‘green strategic partnership’ with India is of highest priority and a decision to work towards this was made when he met with his Indian counterpart, Minister of External Affairs Mr. Jaishankar in January. The aim of such a partnership is to achieve the joint goals of sustainable development.
While the Danish exports to India remain low in terms of goods, Jeppe Kofod emphasized that this way of measuring evaluating commercial relationships cannot stand alone.
However, looking at the Indian market cannot only be evaluated by exports. Several Danish companies are present in India and performing formidably.
Today we have almost 200 Danish companies in India who are employing around 100.000 people.
One of the many reasons India is an attractive market is its demographic – a very young, well-educated and English speaking population. In the offices of Danish companies in India, thousands of talented Indians are working on global projects, adding significant value to the companies that do not show on the regular trade statistics.
In the global fight against climate change, Denmark may be small in stature. But as Prime Minister Modi has said ”Denmark has the skills. India has the scale”. I would add, that India certainly also has skills.
Quoting Prime Minister Modi’s statement when he met former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen in January 2019, Jeppe Kofod added that India certainly also has the skills. As such, Jeppe Kofod continued, we should also look to India for inspiration and invite Indian technology to Denmark through strong partnerships.
Read Jeppe Kofod’s full speech here
Ambassador Ajit Gupte, Embassy of India, Copenhagen
Opening the doors to FDI
Ambassador Ajit Gupte presented a business-friendly India that has intiated a range of programs and missions to welcome foreign direct investment. Programs such as Make in India and Clean India provide significant opportunities for Danish companies and with the recent jump on the ‘Ease of doing business’-index (from #130 in 2016 to #77 in 2018), it has only become easier.
India is not only a market for production and export, Mr. Gupte continued, but a significant R&D hub. More than 900.000 Professionals are employed by multinational companies in their R&D hubs in India.
Ambassador Gupte highlighted the business opportunities associated with key government initiatives. By the year 2025 these include:
- 225GW of renewable energy
- 100+ Smart Cities
- 10.000 kms of New High Speed Rails
- 400 Airports
Thomas Sehested, Danish Cultural Institute in India
Thomas Sehested is Director at the newly opened Danish cultural institute in New Delhi, shared how the Indo-Danish relations are based on mutuality and respect. On November 19th 1620, a lease treaty for the first Danish trade post in Tharangambadi (Tranquebar) was signed between Danish Admiral Ove Gjedde and the local Nayak of Thanjavur, Rabunatandran.
November 19 is also the date on which the Danish Cultural Institute in India celebrates the 400-year anniversary at Tranquebar. Up until that day, stories about Indo-Danish relations will be posted daily, as part of the project named “400 years 400 stories”.
By showcasing examples of Indo-Danish relations throughout the last 400 years, the project aims to continue developing the bilateral relationship, also in a commercial setting, by emphasizing the cultural values that both nation share.
You can read more about the project here: 400 years 400 stories
Craig Storti, Communicating Across Cultures
Never assume you have understood; never assume you have been understood
With more than three decades of experience in intercultural communications, Mr. Craig Storti (US) conducted a heartening workshop on the difficulties of communicating across cultures. Craig repeteadly had the audience in laughter as he quizzed them on the perceieved outcome of conversations from his own experience working in India for Western companies.
While cultural misunderstandings can be humerous, the outcome of such can be costly for companies, as deadlines are missed or project details misunderstood. Craig provided the audience with some tools to be aware of cultural differences and emphasized that it is almost never the purpose of either party to misunderstand or to be misunderstood – it is simply an outcome of even the best intentions when navigating across culture.
More of such examples are available in his book “Speaking of India” which is a brilliant book on Indian culture(s) and intercultural communication.
Learn more about Craig Storti here
Thanks to our close partner in DI for professionally hosting the event.