Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country, the mainland territory of which comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula.
The kingdom was established in 872 as a merger of many petty kingdoms and has existed continuously for 1,150 years. From 1537 to 1814, Norway was a part of the Kingdom of Denmark–Norway, and, from 1814 to 1905, it was in a personal union with the Kingdom of Sweden.
Norway was neutral during the First World War and remained so until April 1940 when the country was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany until the end of World War II. The capital and largest city in Norway is Oslo. The country has a total area of 385,207 square kilometres and a population of 5,425,270 as on January 2022.
The country shares a long eastern border with Sweden. It is bordered by Finland and Russia to the northeast and the Skagerrak strait to the South, on the other side of which are Denmark and the United Kingdom.
Norway maintains close ties with both the European Union and the United States. It is also a founding member of the United Nations, NATO, the European Free Trade Association, the Council of Europe, the Antarctic Treaty, and the Nordic Council; a member of the European Economic Area, the WTO, and the OECD; and a part of the Schengen Area.
Norway maintains the Nordic welfare model with universal healthcare and a comprehensive social security system, and its values are rooted in egalitarian ideals.
The Norwegian state has large ownership positions in key industrial sectors, having extensive reserves of petroleum, natural gas, minerals, lumber, seafood, and fresh water.
The country has the fourth-highest per-capita income in the world on the World Bank and IMF lists. It has the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, has had the highest Human Development Index ranking in the world since 2009.
Since India’s independence in 1947, the two countries have maintained strong and friendly relations, but their economic and commercial ties are on the upswing since Prime Minister Modi’s outreach to the Nordic countries.
PM Modi and his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store reviewed the ongoing activities in bilateral relations and discussed future areas of cooperation on the sideliner of the recent Nordic Summit in Copenhagen. This was the first meeting between the two leaders since the assumption of office by Prime Minister Store in October 2021.
Modi highlighted that Norway’s skills and India’s scope provided natural complementarities. Both leaders discussed the potential for deepening engagement in areas like Blue Economy, renewable energy, green hydrogen, solar and wind projects, green shipping, fisheries, water management, rainwater harvesting, space cooperation, long term Infrastructure investment, health and culture.
As members of UN Security Council, India and Norway have been engaging with each other in the UN on global issues of mutual interest. The two leaders held talks in a one-onone format, followed by delegation level talks and agreed that the areas of cooperation between the two countries should be expanded.
There has been a spurt in trade, investments, transfer-of-technology and other contacts. The current growth in Indo-Norwegian eco-commercial ties have been fuelled by common interest, in sectors such as deep off-shore, shipping, hydroelectricity, Information Technology, Bio-Technology and light consumer goods.
Norwegian IT companies are also looking at offshoring their business to India or investing in Indian startups. Knowledge and technology sharing is another important facet of the Indo-Norwegian relationship.
Through a joint Indo-Norwegian research initiative established in 2016, five new joint projects were selected to receive funding for polar research. With its highly-skilled researchers combined with experience in the Antarctica, India has become a significant contributor to Arctic scientific advancements.
Another booming industry in Norway, the maritime and shipping industry has also grown through its many business partnerships in India. The Joint Working Group on Maritime has identified specific areas for further collaboration, such as coastal shipping and inland waterways, LNG-based shipping, cooperation in ports and sustainable shipping. Norwegian companies also play a prominent role in the Indian naval sector.
GREENER PASTURES ON RENEWABLES
Official think-tank Niti Aayog has kick-started the work on setting up an India-Norway task force for collaboration on clean energy, following an announcement made after a bilateral meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries in early March.
Suman Bery, the Vice-Chairman of Niti Aayog, recently held a meeting with Hans Jacob Frydenlund, Norwegian ambassador to India, on drawing up the broad contours of the task force, and a formal announcement will be made soon, a senior Government official said.
The task force will facilitate collaboration between the two countries on hydrogen, renewables, low carbon solutions and energy storage, the official told a prominent business daily. “The purpose of the task force is to identify key projects for collaboration and mobilise relevant stakeholders at the highest level to ensure continued commitment and progress across ministries and agencies.”
India is upbeat about green hydrogen, green ammonia and renewable energy as it aims to export them while also reducing domestic carbon footprint to move towards the net zero target by 2070.
The collaboration with Norway will include transfer and sharing of technology, knowhow and experience through the green hydrogen value chain and other relevant technologies including hydrogen storage and fuel cells.
India is eyeing exports of green ammonia to developed economies like Japan, the US, South Korea and Europe where demand is projected to be more than 300 million metric tonnes per annum by 2030.
Eyeing large-scale investments into the country in this sector, the Government is firming up incentives to attract global players to produce green hydrogen and green ammonia in the country while seeking expertise in storage and transport of the clean fuel.
India’s non-fossil energy capacity is expected to reach 500 gigawatts by 2030 and the aim is to ensure that the country meets half of its energy requirements through renewable energy by then, reducing the carbon intensity of its economy by less than 45 per cent. India also aims to reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now on till 2030 and achieve the target of net zero by 2070.