India-Switzerland Relations
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Political Relations

India and Switzerland have had cordial and friendly relations since India’s Independence, based on shared values of democracy and the rule of law. India’s policy of non-alignment and Switzerland’s traditional policy of neutrality led to a close understanding between the two countries. Switzerland established diplomatic relations with India soon after Independence. A Treaty of Friendship between India and Switzerland was signed at New Delhi on August 14, 1948, one of the first such treaties to be signed by independent India and an important milestone in Indo-Swiss relations. The Treaty provided for the establishment of diplomatic missions between the two countries and missions were opened in Berne and Delhi soon after. Switzerland established its Consulates General in Mumbai and Bangalore. India has a Consulate General in Geneva. In 2008 India and Switzerland celebrated the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Friendship Treaty. In recognition of the growth of multi-faceted bilateral relations over six decades and to outline areas of mutual interest and cooperation, India and Switzerland decided to establish a Privileged Partnership.

From 1971 to 1976, during and after Bangladesh’s struggle for Independence, Switzerland represented India’s interests in Pakistan and vice versa. Switzerland celebrated the centenary of setting up the Mumbai Swiss Consulate on 17 July, 2015, which had been opened to help Swiss cotton traders and protect business interests. The celebrations also coincided with 75 years of the Swiss Business Hub in Mumbai. Till last year the Swiss Consulate in Mumbai issued the maximum number of visas by any Swiss Consulate before it was transferred to the Swiss Embassy in Delhi.

VVIP visits

Exchange of high level visits has provided the impetus to strengthen bilateral cooperation. Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi paid an official visit to Geneva, Switzerland on June 5-6, 2016. This was a historic visit, the first bilateral visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Switzerland in the last several decades. Hon’ble PM was accompanied by a high powered delegation. Prime Minister had a packed program which included highly productive bilateral meetings with the President of the Swiss Confederation H.E. Mr. Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, a Business Round Table with Switzerland’s top companies, most of them having significant presence in India, issuing of Press Statements by both the leaders and a meeting with Indian research scholars based at CERN.

Issues like mutual support for our respective bids for the non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council, support for India's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, negotiations with EFTA on TEPA, the need for cooperation to bring tax offenders to justice, conclusion of an agreement on the automatic exchange of information on tax matters, cooperation in skill development and Ayurveda and other bilateral issues were discussed during the meetings. The President of Switzerland announced his country’s support for India’s NSG membership, a breakthrough. Following PM’s visit a number of high-level visits took place in quick succession to follow–up and continue the impetus provided to bilateral relations, especially on the issue of black money, EFTA and consular issues.

Ms. Doris Leuthard, Federal Councillor for Environment, Transport, Energy & Communications, and President of Switzerland in 2017, is visiting India in Aug.-Sept. 2017.

Previous visits

The visit of Swiss President Mr. Flavio Cotti in 1998 was the first ever visit by a Swiss President to India. The President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Pascal Couchepin, paid a State Visit to India from 6-12 November, 2003. The last high-level visit to India was that of Swiss President Mrs. Micheline Calmy-Rey from 5-7 November, 2007. After the State Visit of President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in May 2005, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India visited Switzerland from September 30 to October 4, 2011.

High level visits

There have been regular bilateral ministerial exchanges. Mrs. Simonetta Sommaruga, Federal Councillor for Justice and Police, and President of Switzerland in 2015, led a delegation to India on 5-7 October, 2016 and met with Home Minister and Minister for Law and Justice and signed 3 major consular agreements. Mr. Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, Federal Councillor for Economic Affairs, Education and Research, visited India from 15-17 May, 2015, leading an economic mission of 25 business representatives, federal and cantonal officials and Members of Parliament. He held meetings with Hon’ble Finance Minister, MOS (I/C) for Commerce & Industries and the MOS (I/C) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. He also attended a business meeting arranged by FICCI and visited Bangalore where he officially launched the CTI Market entry, an initiative of the Swiss Government’s Mission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) managed by Swissnex India and aimed at encouraging Swiss start-ups to enter the Indian market. He had earlier visited India from 7-9 April, 2011 along with a high level business delegation. Swiss Federal Councillor for Home Alain Berset visited India from October 1-3, 2012 and met Minister of Health & Family Welfare Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister of Culture Kumari Selja and Minister of S&T, Shri Vayalar Ravi to expand scope of bilateral cooperation in health, culture and S&T. Swiss Federal Councillor for Environment, Transport, Energy & Communications, Doris Leuthard visited India from October 18-20, 2012 primarily to represent Switzerland at the UN Conference on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad. She met and discussed issues of mutual interest and cooperation with Smt. Jayanti Natarajan, Minister for Environment & Forests, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Minister of New & Renewable Energy, Shri C.P. Joshi, Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shri Kamal Nath, Minister of Urban Development and Shri Ajit Singh, Minister for Civil Aviation. A Protocol to revise the Double Taxation Agreement was signed between the two countries during the visit of Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey in August 2010, which entered into force on 7th October, 2011. Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter visited India from November 11-12, 2013 in connection with ASEM-FMs Meeting in New Delhi. During this visit, Mr. Burkhalter called on EAM.

From the Indian side, there have been several important bilateral ministerial visits. Hon’ble Minister of State (I/C) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy visited Switzerland in June 2016 to address an international congress on vocational and professional education and training and hold discussions with the Swiss side. Shri Kamal Nath, Minister for Road Transport & Highways led a 5-member delegation to Switzerland on 11-12 August, 2009. A 4-member delegation led by Minister of Textiles, Shri Dayanidhi Maran, visited Switzerland from 25-28 October, 2009. An 18-member Indian Parliamentary Goodwill delegation led by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal visited Switzerland from 1-4 April, 2010. Smt. Meira Kumar, Speaker, Lok Sabha, led an delegation to Switzerland from 16-17 July, 2010 to attend the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Sixth Annual Meeting of Women Speakers of Parliament in Berne. Later, she visited Berne to participate in the 125th IPU Meeting from 16-19 October, 2011. An Investment Round Table was held in Geneva on 8 April 2013 during the visit of Shri Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce & Industry. Minister of State (IC) for Sports & Youth Affairs Shri Jitender Singh visited Lausanne from 14-15 May 2013 in connection with the meetings with the International Olympic Committee. The Indian delegation led by EAM Shri Salman Khurshid participated at the Geneva II Conference on Syria held in Montreux on January 22, 2014.

Foreign Secretary and Secretary (West)’s visits

Among official visits, Dr. S. Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary, visited Switzerland from 10-13 Sept. 2015 for discussions with Swiss State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Yves Rossier on various ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation. He also held discussions with the State Secretary for Economic Affairs. Ms. Sujata Mehta, Secretary (West), visited Switzerland for the 9th round of FOCs on 8 March, 2016 co-chaired by Swiss State Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

Other Secretary level visits

Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology, visited Switzerland on 16-19 Sept, 2015 to participate in the 3rd meeting of the Indo-Swiss Joint Committee on S&T held on 18 Sept. 2015 in Berne. Secretary (DST) co-chaired the meeting with State Secretary Mauro Dell’ Ambrogio, SERI. The meeting reviewed bilateral S&T cooperation and proposed measures to reinforce it. A delegation from the International Cooperation Division of M/o Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, visited Switzerland from 31 August to 8 Sept. 2015 for a study trip cum discussions on modalities of cooperation between the two countries in the field of skill development. In official discussions, the two sides agreed to conclude an MOU which will have specific provisions for setting up a joint working group and funding instrument to take forward bilateral cooperation in skills development. Shri Ajit Mohan Sharan, Secretary, D/o Sports visited Head Quarters of IOC in Lausanne (Switzerland) from 23-25 March, 2015 for working out the modalities for the proposed meeting of the delegation led by Mr. Thomas Bach, President, International Olympic Committee (IOC) with Hon’ble PM of India on 27 April, 2015 to discuss PM’s vision on developing sports in India. Shri Shaktikanta Das, Revenue Secretary, led an Indian delegation to Switzerland on 15 October 2014 for talks on information sharing on tax issues with the Swiss State Secretary for Finance, Mr. Jacques de Watteville.

Consequent to the push given by the visit of PM Modi for cooperation on exchange of information relating to tax and black-money, the Swiss State Secretary for International Financial Matters H.E. Mr. Jacques de Watteville, visited India and met his counterparts, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, and the Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs, Shaktikanta Das in New Delhi on 15 June 2016. They discussed bilateral and multilateral tax and financial issues. And Swiss State Secretary for Economic Affairs Ms. Marie Gabriel Ineichen Fleisch visited India on 10 June, 2016 for the stock-taking meeting on the India-EFTA TEPA negotiations.

A 4-member Swiss Parliamentary delegation visited India on 12 February 2016.

 

Bilateral Institutional Arrangements

[i] Foreign Office Consultations (FOCs) were established in January 1996. The first found of FOCs took place at the level of Secretaries in February 2000. Since then, nine rounds of consultations have been held alternately in Berne and New Delhi in February 2000, January 2003, September 2005, November, 2006, January 2008, December 2009, December 2012 and November 2014 respectively (the last two at JS (CE) level). The last and 9th round of FOC was held in Berne, Switzerland on 8 March, 2016 at Secretary (West) level. The next round is due in India this year.

[ii] The Indo-Swiss Joint Economic Commission was set up in 1959 to intensify economic and commercial relations. The 13th session of JEC meeting was held in New Delhi from October 4-5, 2012. The 14th Session of JEC was held in New Delhi on 14 May, 2015, co-chaired by Mr. Dammu Ravi, Joint Secretary (FT-Europe), M/o Commerce & Industries from Indian side and Mrs. Livia Leu Agosti, Head of the Bilateral Economic Relations at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. The 15th Session of India-Switzerland Joint Economic Commission was held in Berne on 25 October, 2016. The Indian side was led by Ms. Anita Praveen, Joint Secretary (Europe), D/o Commerce while the Swiss side by Amb. Mrs. Livia Leu Agosti, Head of Bilateral Economic Relations. The next round is to be held this year in India.

[iii] The Indo-Swiss Joint Committee on S&T: The 1st Meeting of the Indo-Swiss Joint Committee on S&T was held on 23 September, 2011 in Berne. The main objective of the meeting was to assess ongoing S&T cooperation between India and Switzerland under the Indo-Swiss Joint Research Programme. On October 1, 2012, the Committee held discussions in New Delhi. The 3rd meeting of the joint Committee on S&T took place in Berne at Secretary level on 18 Sept. 2015. The two sides decided to hold the next round by October, 2017 in India.

[iv] Consular Dialogue: A composite dialogue on consular and legal matters was held in New Delhi on March 2 2012 at Joint Secretary level. The 2nd consular dialogue was held in New Delhi back to back with the FOCs on 17 November 2014 at the level of JS (CPV) and Ambassador Johannes Matyassy, Head of Asia-Pacific Division, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. A Swiss delegation from the Federal Department of Justice and Police, State Secretariat of Migration, visited India and held discussions with JS (CPV) on 12 April, 2016.

The 3rd India- Switzerland Consular dialogue was held in Berne, Switzerland, on 10 June, 2016, covering consular and legal issues of mutual interest. The Indian delegation was led by Mr. P. Kumaran, Joint secretary (CPV) and the Swiss delegation by Mr. Johannes Matyassy, Assistant State Secretary for Asia/Pacific, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

[v] India-Switzerland Financial Dialogue: The MoU was signed on October 3, 2011 during the State Visit. The first Financial Dialogue was held in Berne on July 6, 2012. Indian delegation was led by Shri Gopalan, Secretary, DEA and the Swiss delegation was led by Amb. Michael Ambuhl. The second Financial Dialogue was held in New Delhi in June 2013. The 3rd round was held informally during the visit of Swiss State Secretary for International Financial matters to India in June, 20016.

[vi] Defence Cooperation

Consequent to a Swiss proposal in 2015 for establishment of Bilateral Defence Dialogue between the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport and the MOD, the two sides have agreed to hold a bilateral Defence Dialogue bi-annually at the level of AS/JS, MOD. The first such dialogue was held in New Delhi in 2016.

MOU/Agreements

  • Agreement for the avoidance of double taxation w.r.t. taxes on income, signed at New Delhi on 2 Nov. 1994, and amended by the supplementary protocols signed at New Delhi on 16 Feb. 2000, and on 30 Aug. 2010.

  • Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investments signed in 1997

  • Air Services Agreement signed in 2001.

  • Agreement in S&T signed in 2003.

  • Cooperation in Disaster Management in 2003.

  • Agreement on Collaboration in Biotechnology valid for 5 years in 1999 and renewed in 2004 for another 3 years.

  • Agreement on Social Security signed in 2009.

  • MoU establishing the ‘Rabindranath Tagore Chair’ on Indian Studies signed on October 4, 2011 valid for 4 years since 2012. An MOU for extension of existing chair was signed on 9 June, 2016.

  • MoU between Indian Ministry of Power and Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation signed in 2011 for cooperation in energy efficiency.

  • MoU on Indo-Swiss Building Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP) signed on 8 November, 2011.

  • MoU on Mutual Cooperation in Local Governance signed in 2011.

  • MoU signed in 2012 between the Indian Council of Social Science Research and the University of Lausanne, for institutional cooperation and social sciences and humanities projects under the ISJRP.

  • MOU on Cooperation in the fields of Skill Development as well as Vocational and Professional Education and Training signed in June, 2016.

  • Agreement on Mutual Visa Exemption for Holders of Diplomatic Passport signed in October, 2016.

  • Technical arrangement on the Identification and Return of Swiss and Indian Nationals signed in October, 2016.

  • Arrangement between the two countries on Authorization for Dependent Person of Diplomatic, Consular, Technical and Administrative Staff of Diplomatic and Consular Mission to perform gainful employment singed in October, 2016.

  • Joint Declaration on AEOI

Commercial Relations

Commercial contacts between India and Switzerland date back to the early 19th century when in 1851 the Volkart Trading Co. established its offices in Basel and Mumbai. In 1915 when Europe was in the grip of the war and the need of the hour was to secure for Switzerland food and economic prospects, the Swiss Consulates were set up in key locations across the world including Mumbai. The Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, set up based on 1949 agreement signed between GOI and the Swiss Cars and Elevators Manufacturing Ltd. Zurich, celebrated its diamond jubilee in Sept. 2015. It expanded its network, diversifying its activities, and soon becoming the backbone of Switzerland’s economic presence in India. The Indo-Swiss Treaty of Friendship laid the foundation for a strong economic content to the bilateral relationship. Article 3 to 6 of this Treaty secured the “most favoured foreign nation treatment” to Switzerland. As provided by the Treaty itself, it has set the pace for further treaties like Double Taxation Treaty in November, 1994, followed by Amendment protocol in 2010, Promotion and Protection of Investment Treaty in July 1997. The first major investment by Swiss companies in India came in the mid-50s. Switzerland is an important trading partner for India outside the EU.

Bilateral Trade

Switzerland is the 7th largest trading partner for India with the total bilateral trade including merchandise exports, bullion and IT services and software exports, amounting to US$ 18.2 billion in 2016-17. Bilateral trade has a share of 2.76% in India’s total global trade and has shown a mixed trend due to global economic slowdown. India has a share of only about 0.35 % of the Swiss import basket while Indian imports from Switzerland constitute about 4.5% of total Indian imports. Bilateral mercantile trade is about US$ 3 billion and is almost balanced. The imbalance mainly arises out of export of bullion and precious metals to India of about US$ 15 billion a year. However, trade and investments remain far below their potential. For months of April-May of current FY the bilateral trade is US$ 124308.48 million of which exports is US$ 48399.57 million and imports US$ 75908.91 million, placing Switzerland as 5th largest trade partner as was in 2015-16. Swiss exports to India have declined in recent years due to adverse currency rate movements and slowdown in Swiss economy.

  1. Financial-Year-wise total trade figures from DGFT:

(Figures in US$ millions)

Year

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14


2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

(April-May)


India’s Exports

689.79

1095.34

1117.28

1796.95

1068.58

977.17

48399.57

India’s Imports

24802.00

34758.96

32166.54

19311.01

22133.16

19299.49

75908.91

Total Trade

25491.79

35854.30

33283.82

21107.96

23201.74

20276.66

124308.48

% Growth


40.65

-7.17

-36.58

9.92

-12.6


  1. Year-wise merchandise trade figures from Swiss Customs without bullion.

(In Million Swiss Francs)

Year

2010

2011

2012


2013

2014


2015


2016


2017

(Jan-July)

India’s Exports

1010.4

1303.4

1400

1524

1615.4

1256.3

1281

847

India’s Imports

2156.4

2986.4

2600

2010

1742.0

1790.6

1619

990

Total Trade

3166.8

4289.8

4000

3534

3357.4

3046.9

2900

1837

  1. Year wise total trade figures from Swiss Customs.

(in Million USD) (Source Swiss impex,2017)

Year

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014


2015

2016

2017

(Jan-March)

India’s Exports

969

1474

1547

1662

1785

1523

1499

408

India’s Imports

2482

3364

30739

25725

21014

21276

14517

5138

Total Trade

3451

4838

32286

27387

22799

22799

16016

5546

India’s export figures to Switzerland given by Swiss Customs do not include figures for Indian Software and services exports. Similarly, Swiss export figures do not include bullion as well as war material exports to India. The total trade as per Swiss Customs in 2016 was CHF 16016 million with India’s exports at 1499 and imports at 14517. As per Swiss figures India’s total bilateral trade declined by nearly 30% while exports declined by 1.6% and imports declined by 32%.

India’s merchandise exports have more than doubled from 2009 (CHF 800.1 million) to 2014 (CHF 1615.4). According to Swiss Customs, bilateral merchandise trade was at CHF 2945 million in 2016 (calendar year – January to December) showing a decline of 7% over 2015, with Swiss exports to India showing a decline by 11.8% to a total of CHF 1643 million in 2016 as against CHF 1862 million in 2015. However, India’s exports to Switzerland almost stagnated in 2016 (CHF 1309 million against CHF 1307 million in 2015). According to the Electronic & Computer Software Export Promotion Council, during 2014-15 India exported Computer Software and Services to Switzerland worth USD 454.70 million as compared to USD 201.11 million in 2013-14, USD 369.86 in 2012-13 and USD 433.98 million in 2011-12. In 2014 Swiss exports of bullion were CHF 17.55 billion in 2014, as against CHF 21.9 billion in 2013. Gold and bullion exports were CHF 18.5 billion in 2015.

The balance of trade has remained in favour of Switzerland. The major items of Indian exports to Switzerland are textiles and garments, organic chemicals, pearls, precious stones and jewellery, dyestuffs, non-electrical machinery and parts, leather products, shoes and shoe uppers, cotton, plastics, coffee, tea and hand-knotted carpets. Besides bullion, Swiss exports to India consist of chemicals & pharmaceuticals, machinery, transport equipments, precision engineering products and watches.

Bilateral Investment

From April 2000 to Sept. 2016, Switzerland invested approximately USD 3.57 billion in India, thus becoming the 11th largest investor and accounting for about 1.2% of total FDI in India during this period. As a large part of FDI in India, is routed through other countries, actual Swiss FDI in India is much higher. According to the Swiss National Bank data, Swiss companies made investments worth USD 7.93 billion in India during 2006-2015. More than 250 Swiss companies have a presence in India through their own subsidiaries and joint ventures. In terms of industry-wise distribution of Swiss investments in India, traditional sectors of Swiss excellence, e.g. engineering and industrial equipment, services (tourism, financial, logistics etc.), precision instruments, chemicals and pharmaceuticals continue to maintain top positions. Most of the Swiss multinational companies like Nestle, ABB, Novartis, Roche UBS and Credit Suisse etc. have their operations in India. As per Swiss government data, Swiss enterprises have created over one lakh jobs in India at the end of 2015.

On the other hand, about 100 Indian companies have invested about USD 1.42 billion between FY 2013-14 and 2015-16 in Switzerland, placing it among the top five European investment destinations and top-ten places globally for Indian investors. Major Indian IT companies including TCS, Infosys, Tech Mahindra, etc. have their offices here and provide services to major Swiss pharma companies, banks and insurance firms. Switzerland continues to attract investment from Indian companies looking for a gateway to Europe. Switzerland’s initiatives to remain competitive such as the Corporate Tax Reforms and the introduction of the Swiss Innovation Parks are ensuring the interest of Indian and foreign companies alike to consider the country as a base for European operations. Recent Indian investments in Switzerland have gone into sectors such as ICT, life sciences, engineering, and chemicals. Recently, Swiss luxury goods firm Lux was taken over by Eureka Forbes and earlier in 2010 M/s. Steiner, a construction company was taken over by HCC Ltd. Rajesh Exports acquired the world's largest gold refiner in Switzerland European Gold Refineries for US $400 million in 2015. Indian companies in pharma and life science sectors are also present.

India had signed a BIPPA with Switzerland on 4 April, 1997. The Indian side proposed to terminate the agreement and gave a notice of termination in 2016 and proposed to enter into a new BIT based on the new model Indian BIT text. On 5-6 April 2017, a bilateral meeting was held in New Delhi on the new BIT.

EFTA-India Free trade agreement: Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA)

At their meeting in Davos on 26 January 2008, Commerce/Trade Ministers from India and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA, which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, agreed to launch negotiations on a comprehensive Trade and Investment Agreement as per the recommendations of the Joint EFTA-India Study Group established on 1 December 2006. Both sides successfully negotiated upto 98% of the tariff lines, according to which EFTA would offer 11,186 lines to India while India would offer 9414 tariff lines. Legal vetting was also done on the agreed text. However, there are a few areas where two sides have not been able to find common ground. EFTA is seeking concessions primarily on TRIPS plus in IPRs while for India Data Security status and movement of skilled people are important.

13 rounds of India-EFTA trade negotiations have been held till Nov. 13 when the discussions were suspended. As a follow up to the discussions on India-EFTA TEPA between the Indian PM and Swiss President in June 2016, a stocktaking meeting between the Chief Negotiators of India and EFTA was held on 10 June, 2016 in New Delhi. The EFTA delegation was led by the Swiss State Secretary, Ms. Marie Gabriel Ineichen Fleisch, who acts as the Chief spokesperson for EFTA on India-EFTA TEPA. The meeting was held in an amicable and constructive environment with both sides expressing their willingness to jointly address the major outstanding issues and agreeing to an early resumption of negotiations and concluding a balanced agreement in a time-bound manner. Consequent to the stock-taking meeting, an Indian delegation led by Joint Secretary (Europe), M/o Commerce, visited Geneva for the 14th Round of India-EFTA TEPA Negotiations on 26-28 October, 2016. The 15th round of negotiations were held in New Delhi at Chief Negotiators level on 11-13 January, 2017. The 16th round of negotiations was held in Liechtenstein at Chief Negotiators level on 29 May-2 June, 2017. These rounds at Chief negotiators’ level were interspersed with several meetings in person and/or via video conferencing at track leads/experts level. The next round of negotiations that is 17th one is scheduled to be held in September, 2017 in India.

Skill Development

Swiss initiatives to introduce the Swiss Dual Vocational Educational System at a mass level in India are contributing to India's development. Among them are:

  1. The Rajendra and Ursula Joshi Foundation Vocational Education and Training (VET) Projects have established the Bharatiya Skills Development Campus, which will impart vocational education and training to Indian apprentices according to the Swiss VET system, and have signed an MOU with the Rajasthan Govt. to establish the Rajasthan Skills Education University

  2. The Swiss Indian Chamber of Commerce in April 2016 is setting up the Indo-Swiss Centre of Excellence, Pune, India. The project also includes showcasing cleantech solutions and products from Switzerland in India in low energy buildings, sustainable water and waste solutions and renewable energy.

  3. Up to January 2015, the private sector Swiss organization which has equity and loan from NSDC SkillSonics had trained about 3400 persons and placed above 90% of them.

  4. On 3rd February, 2017, the Government of Andhra and BJ Institutes, Aarau Switzerland concluded contracts for the establishment of a vocational training center and extension of the SOPEX program (Solar Power Experience, a program for imparting practical experience with solar energy) on the occasion of the Partnership Summit in Vizag. BJ institute signed two contracts, one for the rollout of the SOPEX program and one for the establishment of a vocational training center.

As a follow up to the meeting on 15 May, 2015 in New Delhi between the Swiss Minister for Economic Affairs, Education and Research and Indian Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, at the Swiss invitation Shri Pawan Agarwal, Joint Secretary (IC), MSDE visited Switzerland, for a study-cum-discussion trip from 30 August to 8th September, 2015 on cooperation in the skill development sector. In official discussions with Dr. Therese Steffen Gerber, Head, International Cooperation in Education at the Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, it was in principle decided to broaden and deepen the engagement with Switzerland in the area of vocational education and the training.

Switzerland’s first International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET) was held in Winterthur on 15-18 September, 2014. Mr. S. Ramadorai, Chairman of the National Skill Development Agency, Chairman of the National Skill Development Corporation and Chairman of the Tata Consultancy Services attended the event in his private capacity. Minister of State (I/C) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Mr. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, visited Switzerland to participate in the 2nd International VPET Congress from 20-22 June, 2016 at Winterthur, Switzerland. He addressed the Congress on the topic – “Skill Development in India: Opportunities and Challenges” on 21 June, 2016. He also held a bilateral meeting with Mr. Mauro Dell’Ambrogio, State Secretary for the Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) on 22 June, 2016 and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to institutionalize bilateral cooperation between our countries in the areas of skills development and vocational education and training.

First meeting of the Indo-Swiss Joint Working Group on Vocational Education and Training was held in New Delhi on 21 April, 2017.

Ayush

Indian Ayurveda Products continue to face barriers in Switzerland because of Swiss restrictions on import of medicinal products. Some health insurance companies cover Ayurveda treatment for upto 75% for those having supplementary coverage for alternative therapies. The Indian Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicine along with 3 other traditional systems of medicine i.e. Chinese, European and homeopathy, has recently been approved for federally recognized national diploma examination whereby their degrees / diplomas could be recognised. Prime Minister urged the Swiss President to recognise Ayurveda products and it was agreed to constitute an expert group to take the matter forward.

Embassy organized a highly acclaimed and successful brainstorming seminar in Bern for Promotion of Ayurveda in Switzerland on 7 Feb. 2017. The event was graced with the presence of officials from the Swiss Federal Office of Health, University of Lausanne, Ayurveda Therapists & Practitioners, Experts and other distinguished guests. It was really a very fruitful event.

Cultural relations & people to people contacts

Switzerland and India have a long history of cultural relations. Numerous Swiss artists and researchers have been active in the Indian subcontinent, notably Le Corbusier (architecture) and Alice Boner (painter, sculptor, art historian). On the Indian side, film producers such as Yash Chopra brought Switzerland and India closer through popular Hindi movies filmed in the Swiss Alps. With the opening of Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council in New Delhi in 2007, the cultural relations between the two countries have further intensified. The two countries do not have an institutional arrangement on cultural cooperation like Cultural Cooperation Agreement or CEP. ICCR troupes regularly visit the country.

To mark the International Day of Peace and Non-Violence a statue of Mahatma Gandhi was installed in Ariana Park, Geneva on 14 Nov. 2007. The statue was jointly unveiled by the Mayor of the City of Geneva, Ambassador in charge of the political division, dealing with Asia in the Swiss Foreign Office and the Indian Ambassador.

The 150th Birth Centenary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda were held in Saas Fee, a picturesque town in the Alps on 30th August 2013 with the unveiling of a plaque at Hotel Grand Metropole where Swami Vivekananda stayed in 1896. A bronze bust was also unveiled at a prominent location in the town to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Tagore.

On 4 October, 2011 the Indian HOS, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, along with Swiss President, Micheline Calmy-Rey, unveiled a bronze bust of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore at the University of Lausanne at an impressive function attended by the cantonal and the university authorities, student community and the Indian delegation accompanying the President. On the occasion Ms. Maya Burger, one of the indology professors at the University, spoke about the works of Gurudev Tagore.

A Tagore Chair has been set up at University of Lausanne (UNIL) for Hindi in 2011, which has successfully completed 4 sessions with professors deputed by ICCR, as per MOU’s validity. Recently, on 9 June, 2016 in Lausanne, the two sides have extended the MOU for another three years based on ICCR’s new model of cost sharing for Chairs. Based on this revised MOU, an Assistant Professor of Hind visited the UNIL for February-June, 2017 on deputation by ICCR.

The International Day of Yoga (IDY) was celebrated on 21 June, 2015 at Waisenhausplatz in the City Centre of Berne with participation of about 100 people. At the Berne event, Mrs. Von Sury-Thomas Susan, a PIO and Member of Legislative Assembly, Canton of Solothurn, participated. In other Swiss cities like Zurich, Berne and Baden, mass yoga practices were also held under the aegis of different Yoga schools and Indian associations.

The Mission celebrated the 2nd IDY Berne on 18 June, 2016. Several yoga sessions guided and supervised by the Yoga Gurus Mr. Wilfred Schichl, Ms. Meena Mailhart, Mr. Suresh, Mr. Sushil Bhattacharya & Mrs. Ruth Waefler Bhattacharya, Mr. Aruno, and Mr Gurdeepak Singh continued through the day. All the sessions were well attended. At the end, a Kathak dance performance illustrating the yoga inspired poses was performed by Swiss dancers, Gauri and Meera, exponents of classical Kathak who have studied their art under Pt. Ravi Shankar Mishra.

IDY 2017 was celebrated by the Embassy in Berne on 17 June, 2017 under the expert guidance of Ms. Michelle Meyes of the Isha Foundation and supervised by the local Yoga Gurus. The event had good attendance of around 120 people. It was a very educative and inspiring session which was much appreciated by the admiring audience. The event ended with a scintillating Dance Drama by Ms. Sougandhika & her troupe.

The Embassy supported the Indo-Swiss Centre’s initiative to organize Yoga on Top of Europe and celebrated 3rd IDY in Jungfraujoch (considered to be the top of Europe at an elevation of 3466 meters) on 25 June, 2017. Shri Ram Madhav, National General Secretary of the BJP, graced the occasion. The event was attended by more than 260 participants and is expected to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.

A 10-member Kathak Dance troupe, led by Smt. Aruna Kelkar from Pune based “Niritya Bharti Academy” and sponsored by ICCR visited Switzerland between 24-26 March, 2015 and showcased its performances in Berne and Zurich). The shows were well received.

A performance and lecture-demonstration on Kathak was organised in Zurich on May 16 2014 by an ICCR sponsored 6-member Kathak troupe led by Ms Rujuta Soman to Switzerland.

Indian community

The Indian community in Switzerland comprises of approximately 20,000 Indians including over 6700 persons of Indian origin (Swiss passport holders). Most of them are professionals in Engineering, IT, pharmaceuticals and paramedical fields. Few are deployed in the International Organisations like UN, UPU and other prestigious Swiss institutes like Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich and EPFL, Lausanne. The Indian community is concentrated in Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Baden, Berne and Lausanne in that order. There are about 445 Indian students studying in Switzerland. A number of Indian associations actively organise cultural activities and celebrate Indian national days. In 2016 there were about 850 Swiss nationals living in India.

Extension of e-Tourist Visa scheme to Switzerland

Government extended the e-tourist visa facility to 37 more countries from 26th February 2016 including Switzerland, covering 150 countries. Henceforth, Swiss nationals visiting India for tourism purposes can avail this e-visa facility with immediate effect. There has been a slow but steady uptake of e-visas. T

Swiss Representation in India

Switzerland has an Embassy in New Delhi and Consulate Generals in Bengaluru and Mumbai and also has Honorary Consuls based in Kolkata and Chennai. There is a Swiss Business Hub in Mumbai, and a swissnex office in Bangalore.

Useful Resources

www.indembassybern.ch – Home page of Embassy of India, Berne

https://www.news.admin.ch/ - Information about Switzerland

http://www.fdfa.ch/eda/en/home.html.html - Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs

http://www.eda.admin.ch/newdelhi - Swiss Embassy in New Delhi

http://www.indembassybern.ch/ - Embassy Website

https://www.facebook.com/IndiainBerne/?ref=hl- Embassy’s Facebook page.

https://twitter.com/indoswissvistas - Embassy’s Twitter Page