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Huge opportunities for India-Ireland partnership

From India’s freedom struggle to the post-Independence New India’s emergence as an Femerging economic and cultural power in the 21st century, the Irish have cherished a special relationship with Indians. Sister Nivedita, Annie Besant, Margaret Cousins are Irish personalities well-known for their contribution in India. Former Irish PM and current DPM, Leo Varadkar has Indian ancestry. India’s Ambassador to Ireland, Akhilesh Mishra dwells on the contours of this traditional bond, its present status and its future prospects in an exclusive interview with . Following are the excerpts:

BI How have relations developed between India and Ireland over the years?

Am Our people-to-people interactions date back to the 19th Century, with the arrival of Irish persons belonging to the British civil, medical, engineering and army services. Irish missionaries and educationists also spread out into all regions of India. Sister Nivedita, Annie Besant Margaret Cousins are Irish personalities well-known for their contribution in India. Noble laureates Rabindranath Tagore and W.B. Yeats inspired each other. After its independence, India opened its Embassy in Dublin in 1951. Honorary Consulates were established in Chennai and Kolkata in 2010 and 2017. The Irish Government opened a full-edged Consulate General in Mumbai in April 2019, as part of its Asia Pacfic outreach policy. There is enormous goodwill and warmth at the political level. As the new Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi visited Dublin in September 2015, choosing Ireland as one of the rst countries to be engaged by him.

BI What more can be done to improve these?

Am Ireland is the biggest per capita tech hub and knowledge economy with the presence of about 1,700 MNCs in country. For India, Ireland can emerge as a strong and most-preferred dialogue partner in Europe on account of its distinct advantages (English speaking, common law, low corporate tax of 12.5%, highly skilled workforce, pro-enterprise government policies, etc). India’s unprecedented structural transformation is creating huge opportunities for India-Ireland partnership. India aims to skill 65% of its 1.38 billion population in the 18-35 years age group by 2030, providing one-fourth of the tech manpower in the world. India and Ireland have a lot of complementary interests and areas of specialising in manufacturing that are not competitive. Exploring these areas to create a partnership that marries the strengths of each of the partners would be a growth multiplier.

BI How can business and trade between the two countries be increased further?

Am India’s share in total Irish trade for the period Jan-Sep 2021 is only 0.514 per cent. This is much below potential and there is scope for diversication of product baskets as well as increase in absolute volumes of items traded between the two countries. Engaging with Ireland with a strategic approach aimed at broader multi-sectoral B2B linkages would be benecial.The departure of the UK from the EU affects Ireland more than any other EU nation. Traditionally close economic, social, trade and investment integration with UK has come under stress and the supply chains have got disturbed. Pandemic has also brought to the fore the need for reliable, trusted and transparent supply lines andtrade ties.Ireland’s unique connectivities and global networks can be signicant force multipliers for Indian companies. Ireland is now the only English-speaking EU country and has the historic opportunity to present itself as the focal point for English-speaking world for connecting and engaging with Europe.


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