Swedish business community has 'big interest' in India: King Carl XVI Gustaf

Abhishek Shukla

Stockholm, Nov 28 (PTI) Swedish business community has 'big interest' in India, King Carl XVI Gustaf said ahead of his visit to the country during which the two sides are expected to sign several documents on furthering bilateral engagement.

The Swedish Royal couple - King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia - will travel to India between December 1 and 6. This is his third trip to India, the earlier visits being a State Visit in 1993 and a visit leading Royal Technology Mission in 2005.

During his visit, the King will hold talks with President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Several documents on furthering bilateral engagement are likely to be signed during the Swedish King's visit.

In an interaction with the PTI at the Royal Palace here, the King said Sweden has a lot to offer to India in terms of environment solutions and water cleaning technologies.

'We are willing, if we can find the right partners, to discuss environment solutions, for instance, in which Sweden is quite good at. In 1972, we started first environment conference. We are trying to be fossil fuel free (country) by 2030, So we are working very hard,' he said.

The King, who is accompanied by about 100 businessmen, said Swedish business community has big interest in India.

'...there is a big-big interest to come to your country because a lot of things are happening in your society when it comes to business... There will be a good seminar. I believe it will be very fruitful,' he told PTI.

Underlining that he was not heading the business delegation, the King said that 'it is not a business sales trip. It is more to get to know, to get informed about your society'.

The ties between India and Sweden have been on an upward trajectory in the last few years. The bilateral trade volume was USD 3.37 billion in 2018, according to official figure.

During his stay in India, the King will also visit Haridwar in Uttarakhand where he will see the inauguration of a new sewage cleaning facility. He was briefed about the Clean Ganga mission during the visit of Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat at the World Water Week here in September.

The demonstration of a massive project to clean 2,500 kilometres long Ganga river impressed the King.

'It must be a large project which I think is fantastic. It is so interesting, so I thought why can't I go and see how they are doing it because it must be essential for the environment and everybody around it. Someone told me that it was a 2,500-kilometre of the river so it must be a lot of cleaning to do. I wish them all the good luck,' the King said.

Talking about Sweden's experience in cleaning of the Mälaren lake, spread over 1,140 square km, which provides water to a significant part of the kingdom, the King said the project started 40-years ago and now one can safely bath and even drink its water.

'Now you can swim if you are really brave, you can drink it. It's a long project, that's why I was looking forward to seeing the work you are putting in cleaning the Ganges. It is exciting to see how you are doing because it is a long project. They have to start somewhere. It is fantastic,' he said.

He said Sweden is a small society, but still both countries have common interests. 'You are trying to clean the Ganges river and beaches in Mumbai. We can at least see if there are different companies which can suit your demand,' he said.

This would be fourth high-level exchange between Sweden and India since 2015 when the then President Pranab Mukherjee visited Stockholm on the first State Visit from India.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven visited India in 2016 which was reciprocated by the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Sweden in 2018.

The Royal couple will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Ann Linde, Business, Industry and Innovation Minister Ibrahim Baylan and State Secretary Health and Social Welfare Maja Fjaestad among others.

The King said the number of scientists and students working in Swedish companies and Universities is increasing, which makes it a two-way dialogue.

Recalling their 1993 visit, Queen Silvia termed her trip to Jaipur a 'big moment' for her where she met the members of the erstwhile Royal family.

She fondly remembered her visit to 'a national park' where she took an elephant ride and watched Tiger in natural habitat.

During her upcoming visit, the Queen will have back-to-back engagements, meetings and seminars on several issues.

She will be visiting the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to understand the care given to dementia patients.

The Queen had set up a foundation 26-years ago 'Silviahemmet' after her mother was diagnosed with dementia and there were very few professionals to handle the situation at the time.

Her foundation provides training to doctors and nurses to handle dementia patients. Over 1,000 such professionals have successfully completed the training. PTI ABS ZH ZH