India-Switzerland Relations

26 Apr 2021

Curtain Hug

Cultural Relations
There aren’t any institutions on culture, like Cultural Cooperation Agreement or CEP in both countries, but various Swiss artists and researchers have participated in the Indian subcontinent. Le Corbusier (architecture) and Alice Boner (painter, sculptor, art historian) along with Yash Chopra (film director) filmed popular Hindi movies in the Swiss Alps bringing the two countries closer. For the International Day of Peace and Non-Violence, a statue of Mahatma Gandhi was inaugurated in Ariana Park, Geneva on 14 November 2007. Switzerland also opened an office of Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council in New Delhi in 2007 to focus its efforts on contemporary literature, visual arts, dance, and design; scholarships in Switzerland as well as in India are offered.

At the University of Lausanne (UNIL), A Tagore Chair has been set up for Hindi in 2011, which concluded multiple sessions. On 30th August 2013, the 150th Birth Centenary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda rejoiced in Saas Fe, the Alps. To mark The International Day of Yoga mass yoga practices were held under the support of different Yoga schools. Both countries are promoting cultural exchanges along with the fact that tourism is thriving here in both countries.
Economic cooperation

When Volkart Trading Co. built its offices in Basel and Mumbai in 1851, it was the first commercial contact between the two countries. During the Europe War in 1915, Switzerland secured food and economic prospects by placing the Swiss Consulate in key locations over the world including Mumbai. The 1949 agreement signed between the Government of India and the Swiss Cars and Elevators Manufacturing Ltd. Zurich by The Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, rejoiced its 60 years in Sept. 2015. It soon became the backbone of Switzerland’s economic presence in India by growing its network and broadening its activities.

Articles 3 to 6 of the Treaty ensured that the “most favored foreign nation treatment” went to Switzerland. This set the pace for further treaties like the Double Taxation Treaty in November 1994; followed by Amendment protocol in 2010; the Promotion and Protection of Investment Treaty in July 1997. The first major investment by Swiss companies in India began in the mid-50s. From April 2000 to September 2019, Switzerland invested in FDI equity worth USD 4.781 billion in India. Henceforth becoming the 12th largest investor and accounting for about 1.07% of total FDI in India during this period. The overall Swiss investment inflows into India pegged at about USD 7.71 billion as a large part of FDI in India is routed through third countries. Thus actual Swiss FDI in India is much higher, during 2005-2016 as per Swiss National Bank (SNB). Due to their subsidiaries and joint ventures, numerous Swiss companies have a port in India.

Relations in education and research
The Swiss President visited India in 2003, and an intergovernmental framework Agreement on Technical and Scientific Cooperation was signed. This launched an Indo-Swiss Joint Research Programme (ISJRP) in 2005 as the main vehicle for S&T cooperation through periodic POCs. The Joint Committee on Science and Technology was set up to supervise S&T Cooperation. In 2019, the Mission was celebrated as the India Year of Science and Technology in Switzerland. To further strengthen the India-Switzerland relations for the future, Honorable President Shri Ram Nath Kovind went to Switzerland from September 11-15, 2019. An India-Switzerland Science and Innovation Alliance was formed between the Government of the Republic of India and the Swiss Federal Council as the Letter of Intent.
From 20-22 June 2016, the Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Mr. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, visited Switzerland to partake in the 2nd International Vocational and Professional Education and Training Congress. In New Delhi, the 1st meeting of the Indo-Swiss Joint Working Group on Vocational Education and Training was taken on 21st April 2017. This occurred when the MoU to institutionalize bilateral cooperation in areas of skill development, vocational education, and training was signed.