Finland has enjoyed historically good relations with India. In the post-Covid era, they can help each other in various sectors including education, digitalisation and climate change, the Ambassador of Finland to India Ritva Koukku-Ronde told Pushkar Banakar.
Which areas are you looking to cooperate with India in the post-Covid era?
In the current situation, new ways of communication and collaboration, for instance- digital solutions, have been developed. Finland is a highly digital country. In India, we noticed that things like remote working or education can be organised. We hope that the new National Education Policy 2020 will provide opportunities in such key areas. Finland also has the largest number of startups per capita in the world. That is something where there could be cooperation.
We also have to take challenges like climate change seriously. Finland has solutions for clean technology. Many Finnish companies and some ‘Make In India’ companies are developing solutions for the whole world including India. This week two MoUs will be signed between the ministries of environment and mining of the two countries. The pandemic has also forced us to think a lot more on the circular economy. During the India-EU Summit, there was special attention given to this aspect.
How have the two countries helped each other during the pandemic?
Even before the pandemic, there was industrial cooperation in the pharma sector between the two countries. India’s role is very important globally. The Finnish pharma industry is using raw materials and medicines from India.
What’s the plan to boost tourism from India?
We saw a record high of Indian tourists last year and we were foreseeing an even better number this year before Covid happened. We are looking at encouraging students, workers and researchers to come to Finland and pursue careers. Finland is a good place for families as well. We are ranked high in the well-being index as well as we strike a balance between work and life. We have free quality schools and practically free healthcare.
Raveesh Kumar, Indian ambassador to Finland, recently said that India and Finland have not reached their potential in cooperation?
I think the ambassador is right. There could be much more to do in various new fields. There could be cooperation in smart cities, forest management, mining, sustainable waste to energy and maritime cooperation. There are fields like food and beverage industry which can be explored. We are also looking for more Indian investments. Culturally, there could be more exchanges as well with cooperation in literature, music, dance, visual arts, etc.
Will an India-EU trade agreement boost trade and investment ties between the two countries?
Agreements on trade and investment protection would be beneficial to both parties.
Finland is a pioneer in green energy and waste management. How do you see your expertise being passed on to India?
We are top-ranked in using and promoting green technologies. Our goal is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035 and be the first fossil-free welfare state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also strongly promotes ambitious plans for renewable energy. We welcome the initiatives. Also, there is a large scope of cooperation in the areas of industrial and hazardous waste management.
Where and how do you see India-Finland relations going ahead?
We will have closer and deeper relations with enhanced cooperation in a wide range of sectors. We are strongly on the path towards this goal. I hope more Finnish tourists come to India once the restrictions ease and experience its history and vice versa. I particularly would like Indians to experience the Finnish way of life.