India, Finland announce ambitious digital and sustainability partnerships

·4-min read

New Delhi, Mar 16 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin on Tuesday announced an ambitious digital partnership that will facilitate research and development of 6G mobile technologies, quantum computing and digital transformation of teaching.

At a virtual summit, the two prime ministers also announced a sustainability partnership involving renewable and clean energy, circular economy, and sustainable mobility while noting that 'green growth' is an essential element of bilateral cooperation.

A joint statement said the two leaders noted that the digital domain was one of the most promising sectors for an intensive India-Finland partnership and that the emphasis would be future Information and Communications Technology (ICT) with a focus on quantum technologies and computing.

The other key domains would be future mobile technologies, particularly on 6G research and development, and digital transformation of teaching and learning.

'Essential and cross-cutting elements of all these key domains are the utilisation of artificial intelligence, cyber security and blockchain technologies,' it said.

The two sides also announced a high-level dialogue in education between the education ministries of both the countries.

In the summit, India and Finland noted the growing importance of Africa and referred to their national efforts to enhance cooperation in and with Africa, said the joint statement.

Modi and Marin exchanged views on the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasised the unprecedented global efforts in speeding up the development and scaling up of manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and promoting equitable access to all countries, it said.

In his opening remarks, Modi said India has taken care of needs of the world along with its domestic struggle during the pandemic and that more than 58 million Made in India coronavirus vaccine doses reached about 70 countries in the recent weeks.

Modi also said that both India and Finland believed in a rules-based, transparent, humanitarian and democratic global order and the two countries have strong cooperation in areas like technology, innovation, clean energy, environment and education.

'Had a fruitful Virtual Summit with PM of Finland @MarinSanna. We discussed a broad spectrum of issues, and reaffirmed our commitment to further deepening India-Finland partnership. I invited Finland to partner us in our journey of sustainable development,' he tweeted.

The statement said both sides looked forward to signing of the renewed MoU between consortium of ten Finnish universities and 23 IITs in India for cooperation in higher education sector.

At a media briefing, Neeta Bhushan, Joint Secretary, Central Europe division in the Ministry of External Affairs said the two leaders expressed satisfaction and confidence that the areas of cooperation under the India-Finland partnership will continue to deepen and gain further strength.

Bhushan said recent developments in Myanmar figured in the talks and both the prime ministers expressed concern over them while mentioning that the rule of law must be upheld.

'As a country that shares land and maritime border with Myanmar, we have the highest stakes in peace and stability in the country. We have traditionally strong cultural people-to-people ties with Myanmar and safety of people remained our top priority,' she said.

In the energy sector, the two leaders encouraged the companies, ministries and agencies to explore commercial activities, and research and development cooperation in the field of gas-based economy, biofuels, renewable energy, waste-to-energy, electricity storage and emerging fuels such as hydrogen.

'Some Finnish companies are working towards setting up bio refineries within the Numaligarh refinery complex in Assam,' said Bhushan.

Replying to a question, Bhushan said both sides discussed cooperation in 5G mobile technologies as well.

'Nokia is already working in the rural areas for expansion of 5G applications. Wipro and Tech Mahindra are working with Finnish companies and institutes for further collaboration and expansion of 5G and in the evolution of 6G technologies,' she said.

The joint statement said both sides have much potential for enhanced cooperation on polar issues, taking into account India's observer status in the Arctic Council and the fact that both are consultative members of the Antarctic Treaty and have active stations in Antarctica.

Referring to cooperation in Africa, it said both sides looked forward to bilateral talks on it later this year which will offer an opportunity for more discussion on matters of mutual interest and possible further action.

It said Marin recalled the importance of universal human rights as a base for Finland's foreign policy and emphasised that, if elected to the UN Human Rights Council later this year, her country will combine its strengths and experience particularly in gender equality, education and digitalisation in its work.

Finland thanked India for its commitment to support in the elections to the UN Human Rights Council in 2021.

Referring to the WTO, both countries reaffirmed their support to an open, inclusive and rules-based multilateral trading system and reiterated their commitment to preserve, strengthen and reform the organisation.

The two leaders welcomed the upcoming India-EU27 leaders' meeting in Portugal in May 2021, the statement said, adding the recently launched EU-India high-level dialogue on trade and investment is an important tool. PTI MPB AAR AAR