The Interparliamentary Delegation for Relations with India of the European Parliament visited Mumbai on 14-15 April. Strategic Foresight Group along with Mumbai Educational Trust (MET) hosted a round-table discussion for the visiting European Parliament delegates to discuss the potential of knowledge cooperation between the European Union and India on April 14. The meeting brought together intellectuals and policy makers from Maharashtra, to interact and exchange potential ideas for collaboration with the visiting European delegation.
The European Parliament delegation was led by Mr. Graham Watson, Liberal Democrat Member from the UK, Chair of the Interparliamentary Delegation for Relations with India. He was accompanied by Members of the European Parliament, Mr. Charalampos Angourakis, Greece; Mr. Harlem Desir, France; Mr. Bill Newton Dunn, UK; and Ms Anna Rosbach, Denmark. In addition to the MEPs, political and administrative staff from the European Parliament, representatives from the Delegation of the European Union to India, and H.E. Dr Leopold-Theodor Heldman, Consul General of Germany in Mumbai, also attended the round-table.
Indian Participants included Mr. Sunil Karve, Founder, Mumbai Educational Trust (MET), who chaired the round table; Mr. Suresh Shetty, Minister for Health, Govt. of Maharashtra; Mr. Pankaj Bhujbal, Member of Legislative Assembly, Maharashtra,; Dr. Raghunath K. Shevgaonkar, Vice Chancellor, University of Pune; Dr. Bal Phondke, Retd. Director of National Institute of Science Communication; Dr. Rauf Pathan, Chairman of Universal Education Society Ltd.; Mr. Satish Utekar, CEO, Thane Janata Sahakari Bank Ltd.; Prof. Vijay Page, Director General, MET Institute of Management; Mr. Dilip Tikle, Founder, ConnectDOTS Consultancy and Training; and Prof. T.R.Doongaji, Dean, Business Excellence, MET Institute of Management and Former Managing Director, Tata Services Ltd. In addition, SFG Research Analysts participated in the session.
Over the course of the meeting, several ideas pertaining to opportunities and challenges in knowledge cooperation between the EU and India were discussed. Minister Suresh Shetty initiated the discussion by providing a brief history of cooperation between India and the EU over the last decade and highlighting sectors such as education, health, climate change, renewable energy and nuclear energy, which are potential areas for collaboration in the future. He elaborated on existing challenges in health and education in Maharashtra, and the initiatives taken by the state government to overcome these challenges. He advocated enhanced cooperation with the EU in overall research and development, as well as infrastructure and capacity building.
Mr. Graham Watson observed that India and Europe’s relations have been primarily economic in nature, and drew attention to the fact that India still does not have an Interparliamentary Delegation for Relations with the EU. He expressed the need for global solutions to supranational challenges of our times such as migration, climate change, international organized crime and terrorism. He explained how the expanding global economy needed a global social contract on which India and Europe should work together.
A key point brought up during discussions and agreed to by all participants was that any partnership between EU and India should be a two way exchange, one that is mutually beneficial to both entities, and that cooperation should have a long term and strategic vision. Some of the other ideas which received support from both European and Indian delegation were an increase in scientific research cooperation, student and faculty exchange, university – academia partnerships, and improvement of cultural ties.
The participants reached a consensus that EU and India should strive for a balance between economic relations and knowledge cooperation in emerging sectors. Efforts need to be made to explore and deepen exchange in agriculture and climate control, biotechnology, pharmaceutical research, shipping related infrastructure including improvement of ports and harbors, challenges of urbanization, climate change, health care and education. Efforts should also be made to learn from positive case studies of cooperation in the past and to build on existing successful models. The round table also called for greater focus on human development and inclusive growth in both Europe and India.
In conclusion, the Indian participants expressed a hope that the EU will demonstrate leadership in developing new approaches to global governance, as the model of European integration has greatly benefited a population of 500 million people and acts as an example for other regions.