New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee leaves on Sunday for a five-day state visit to Sweden and Belarus, in the first presidential visit to both countries.
The visit is set to see bolstering of bilateral ties as well as a push to the government’s initiatives like Make in India, Swachh Bharat and Skill India.
The president will be in Sweden from May 31 to June 2, and in Belarus on June 2-4.
In Sweden, his host will be King Carl XVI Gustaf who has been the ruling monarch of Sweden for 42 years. Sweden is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy.
Mukherjee will be accompanied by Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, parliamentarians Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashwani Kumar, who are members of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha respectively.
He will also be accompanied by about seven vice chancellors and directors of leading Indian universities, while over 60 Indian business leaders will be travelling alongside separately. A business forum will also be held with both countries.
Sweden has around 9,000 people of Indian origin and another 9,000 who are there as professionals, IT professionals, or working in the hospitality industry.
Mukherjee will be the first ever head of state to visit Sweden.
Besides meeting the king and queen of Sweden, Mukherjee will also meet Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, the speaker of the Swedish parliament, and the Leader of Opposition Anna Kinberg Batra. A state banquet will also be held in his honour.
On June 2, Mukherjee will visit Karolinska Institute, a leading institute of medicine and related studies, and also visit the Uppsala University, which is one of the oldest European universities.
He will also visit a Swedish smart city and be briefed on how it works in different aspects of civic governance.
The India-Sweden bilateral trade is about $2.5 billion.
Around 170 Swedish companies, largely multinational corporations, are active in India while 50 Indian companies are working out of Sweden.
Sweden is the 12th largest contributor of FDI to India. Indian companies have invested up to $800 million in Sweden. India is the third largest trade partner after China and Japan in Asia for Sweden.
The visit is likely to see many agreements being inked, including in the field of education, business and health. Some of the areas could be micro, small and medium industries, polar research.
Sweden supported India’s application for becoming Observer to the Arctic Council, said Navtej Sarna, secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry.
In Belarus, Mukherjee will hold talks with President Alexander Lukashenko in both restricted and delegation-level formats. There will be a banquet luncheon.
Mukherjee will plant a tree in the Ally of the Guests of Honour and the Place of Independence, and place a wreath at the Victory Monument.
Both the presidents will address a joint business conference on June 4. There will be a formal launching of the Grodno-II Power Project, which has been refurbished by BHEL on a line of credit of $55 million from India.
There will be MoUs inked between PSUs as well as at a government level covering different areas like textiles, power and education.
Mukherjee will unveil a bust of Mahatma Gandhi at Belarus State University, and will be honoured with a professor of honoris causa degree by the university.
He will also meet Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov and other leaders.
There is large scope for joint ventures between Belarus and India under the Make in India programme in terms of heavy transportation vehicles, tractors, agricultural machinery and of defence, Sarna said at a briefing earlier.
Bilateral trade is at $400 million. Belarus is India’s main supplier of potash. India’s exports are largely concentrated on pharmaceutical issues.
India has set up a Digital Learning Centre in Belarus at a cost of Rs.5 crore.
“Belarus has supported India on the UN Security Council issue as well as in the Nuclear Supplier Group issue. And Belarus incidentally is the only European country which is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement,” he said.