Climate change, the welfare state and state pension formed part of the discussions during Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s last month visit to Norway, the country’s Indian mission said on Friday.
“Mr Gandhi had expressed very varied interests before the trip. In a number of the topics which were covered during his trip Norway are among world leaders such as sustainable transport, carbon capture technologies, aquaculture, marine resource management and polar research,” Ambassador of Norway to India, Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg, told National Herald.
Kamsvåg expressed hope that Gandhi’s visit to Norway would have positive outcomes for Indian politics in general.
“Mr Gandhi was very active in all the meetings, so, although India and Norway are very different societies, I think Mr Gandhi saw and experienced things which could be of relevance also when policies in India are formulated,” Kamsvåg said.
The envoy said that Rahul Gandhi’s visit was part of a three-year-old programme, wherein the Norwegian embassy extends invitations to a government and an opposition leader every year. Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) MP from Himachal Pradesh, Anurag Thakur, visited the Scandinavian country as part of the same programme last year, Kamsvåg said.
The Norwegian Embassy said in a statement that Gandhi met business leaders, politicians and civil servants in three cities, Tromsø, Oslo and Bergen, during his week-long visit to the Scandinavian country that had begun on August 25.
On the first leg of his journey in Tromsø, Gandhi was briefed about the significance of the Arctic on global climate, according to the embassy. India is part of a nine-country club which have research bases meant to conduct study on climate change in Norway.
India’s Himadri Base, located at a distance of 1,200 km from the North Pole, was established during the second Arctic Expedition in June 2008.
Rahul Gandhi also had a meeting with Tromsø’s mayor Kristin Røym, as per pictures shared on embassy’s Facebook page.
In the capital city of Oslo, Gandhi met the head of the Norwegian Global Pension Fund, Yngve Slyngstad. The Norweigian embassy informed that the fund, the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, had investments to the tune of $10 billion in India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought Norwegian pension fund investments into India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund during an interaction with Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg during the G-20 summit in Germany in July this year. To maintain an above average economic growth, India will need an investment to the tune of $646 billion in infrastructure over the next five years, amid a slump in private investment.
The country of 50 lakh-odd people is one of the trailblazers when it comes to renewable and environment-friendly technology, with the government having mandated that zero or low emission vehicles would be the only ones sold in the market by 2025.
Norway has the best per capital electric vehicle ownership in the world, the embassy noted.
The Union Road Transport and Highways Minister has set an ambitious target of having only electric cars by 2030, a prospect that critics have termed unlikely as it would require India to sell at least 10 million such cars by the end of next decade. According to an estimate, there were just around 1.3 million electric cars on roads worldwide in 2015.
The leader called upon marine experts on the final leg of his Norway tour in Bergen, known as Ocean City. The country’s seafood export industry, valued at $11 billion in 2016, was second only to China.
Gandhi’s trip had courted controversy as it came just before a mega rally in Patna, which was attended by representatives from at least 18 opposition parties. Congress was represented by veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.