NEW DELHI: May 17 marks a significant day for Norwegians as they celebrate their country’s uniqueness, culture, freedom, and constitution. Known as Norwegian Constitution Day or Syttende Mai, the day commemorates the signing of Norway’s constitution in 1814, which established the country as an independent nation with a democratic government.
Norwegians take great pride in their democracy and constitutional monarchy, and the day is celebrated with parades, concerts, and festivities that showcase the country’s rich heritage and culture. The streets are awash with red, white, and blue, the national colors, as people of all ages don traditional Norwegian clothes and wave the country’s flag.
Norway and India share a long-standing and friendly relationship. The two nations’ historical ties date back to the establishment of a Danish-Norwegian trading station in Tranquebar in the 1600s. In 1947, the relationship was formally established, with Norway agreeing to establish bilateral relations with India. Norway established the “India Fund” in 1952, which provided development assistance with a focus on fisheries, and opened its embassy in New Delhi.
In the recent years, Norway has significantly strengthened its presence in India. The Consulate General in Mumbai was reopened in 2015, and Innovation Norway, the Norwegian government’s official trade representative, now has offices in Mumbai and New Delhi. In 2019, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg inaugurated the newly constructed and energy-efficient Embassy complex in New Delhi.
To provide renewed impetus to the bilateral relationship, the Norwegian government launched a new ‘India Strategy’ in December 2018. The strategy focuses on five thematic priorities: democracy and a rules-based world order; the oceans, energy, climate; environment and research; higher education, and global health. Norway seeks to achieve these objectives through political contact and cooperation between authorities, business cooperation, and research cooperation.
Norway and India have been cooperating on energy projects for years, aiming to develop sustainable and clean energy sources to power economic growth, reduce poverty and promote peace. Norway, which generates most of its electricity from renewable energy sources, is eager to assist India in meeting its ambitious green economy targets.
Joint research projects between the two countries have led to practical applications, such as technology to improve power grid safety and increase grid carrying capacity by 25 per cent. Norway is also supporting private and public sector initiatives to develop the next generation of Indian power plants and grids.
Norway is set to invest $1 billion from its climate investment fund in solar energy infrastructure worldwide, with India seen as having great potential in this area. In addition, Norway is also working with the National Institute of Wind Energy to explore offshore wind energy in India.
The Norwegian company, Piql, is also involved in digitalising Indian monuments, such as the Taj Mahal, and historical sites like Dholavira and Bhimbhetka Caves. Norway has also invested significantly in ocean technology and clean energy, showcasing their commitment to climate investments.
Norway and India share a common vision of promoting stability and predictability, as well as strengthening multilateral governance systems, international trading systems, and international legal orders, especially regarding the oceans.
Both countries are committed to finding regional solutions to regional challenges while promoting human rights, gender equality, democracy, and the rule of law to advance sustainable development for all. Over the period of 2015-2019, Norway provided support for capacity development and the integration of gender in the institutions of six Indian states and initiatives to empower women at the local level.
In addition to political and economic cooperation, Norway and India recognize the importance of promoting cultural exchange as a means of strengthening shared values such as democracy, freedom of expression, and sustainability.
Norway and India have a cultural cooperation exchange agreement, which serves as the foundation for their government-to-government partnership in the arts, culture, and sports. India is a focus market for Norwegian art and culture, demonstrating the importance of cultural diplomacy in building strong bilateral relationships.
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