About Us India-Switzerland Relations

Embassy of India

Berne

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India-Switzerland Relations

A. Introduction


India and Switzerland have had cordial and friendly relations since India’s Independence, based on shared values of democracy and rule of law.  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. In 2018, India and Switzerland celebrated the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship.


The relations between India & Switzerland have achieved new heights following the visits of Rashtrapati ji to Switzerland in September 2019, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to Switzerland in 2018 & 2016 and Swiss President Mrs. Doris Leuthard to India in August/September 2017. The Joint Statement issued during the visit of the Swiss President in 2017 noted the India-Switzerland relations as ‘A Long Standing Dynamic Partnership’.


Switzerland has an Embassy in New Delhi and Consulate Generals in Bengaluru and Mumbai; it also has Honorary Consuls based in Kolkata and Chennai. There is a Swiss Business Hub in Mumbai, and a Swissnex office in Bangalore. India has an Embassy in Berne and a Consulate General in Geneva. From 1971 to 1976, during and after Bangladesh’s struggle for Independence, Switzerland represented India’s interests in Pakistan.


B. Bilateral visits


President Ram Nath Kovind’s State Visit to Switzerland in September, 2019:


Hon’ble President Shri Ram Nath Kovind paid a State Visit to Switzerland from September 11-15, 2019 accompanied by MoS for Women and Child Development Sushri Debasree Chaudhuri, Members of Parliament Dr. Ramapati Ram Tripathi and Shri Basanta Kumar Panda. A high level official and business delegation also accompanied President. President Kovind and Swiss President Ueli Maurer also made remarks at the India-Switzerland Business Round Table co-hosted by India and Switzerland on 13 September 2019 in Berne.


Swiss Vice President’s visit to India in October 2019:


Ms. Simonetta Sommaruga, Vice President and Federal Councillor for Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications of the Swiss Confederation paid a working visit to India from October 18-21, 2019 and held meetings with MOS (IC) for Power, New and Renewable Energy; Minister for Railways and, for Commerce and Industry; and Minister for Housing & Urban Affairs (I/C), Civil Aviation (I/C). 


Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Davos in January 2018:


Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi paid a visit to Switzerland in January 2018. During his visit, PM Modi met H.E. Mr. Alain Berset, then President of the Swiss Confederation. After the bilateral segment, PM delivered the key-note address at the Inaugural Plenary Session of the Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum. Other Indian Ministers, Chief Ministers and senior Officials also participated in a number of sessions.


Previous bilateral visits at HOS/HOG-level:


Incoming: President of the Swiss Confederation Her Excellency Mrs. Doris Leuthard paid a State Visit to India from 30 August-02 September 2017. Swiss President Mrs. Micheline Calmy-Rey [5-7 November 2007]; Swiss President Mr. Pascal Couchepin [6-12 November 2003]; Swiss President Mr. Flavio Cotti [1998; first ever visit by a Swiss President to India].


Outgoing: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi paid an official visit to Geneva, Switzerland on 5-6 June 2016. President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil [30 September to 4 October 2011]; President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam [May 2005]; President Shri V.V. Giri [1975].


Ministerial-level and Parliamentary visits:


Incoming: Federal Councillor Mrs. Simonetta Sommaruga, [18-21 October, 2019];  Foreign Minister Dr. Ignazio Cassis [10 August 2018]; 


Outgoing: Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, Smt. Meenakashi Lekhi [28-30 September 2021]; Indian Participation in Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum 2022, which was held in Davos from 22-26 May 2022, included Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Hardeep Singh Puri and Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Shri Mansukh Mandaviya etc.; Indian Participation in 50th Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum, which was held in Davos from 21-24 January 2020, included Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Railways, MoS for Shipping and Chemicals & Fertilizers, Chief Ministers, State Ministers etc.; Minister for Health and Social Justice, Government of Kerala Mrs. K.K. Shailaja Teacher [26 November 2019; Berne]; Chief Minister of Kerala Shri Pinarayi Vijayan (12-15 May 2019); Minister of State for External Affairs General (Dr.) V.K. Singh (Retd.)  [26 November 2018; Berne]; Minister of Health and Family Welfare Shri J.P. Nadda [19 May 2018].


Virtual Meetings: 


EAM Shri S. Jaishankar and Swiss Foreign Minister Mr. Ignazio Cassis [June 2020] 


CIM Shri Piyush Goyal and Swiss Vice-President Mr. Guy Parmelin [8 December 2020]


C. Bilateral Dialogue Mechanism

  1. Foreign Office Consultations (FOC): The FOC were established in January 1996 with the 1st round of FOC taking place at the Secretary-level in February 2000. The latest [10th] round of FOC was held in New Delhi on 5 December 2017. Next round of FOC is scheduled tobe held in New Delhi on 02 August 2022.

  1. Joint Economic Commission: It was set up in 1959 to intensify economic and commercial relations. Its latest session [18th] was held virtually on 9 September  2021.

  1. Joint Committee on Science & Technology: The 1st meeting of the Indo-Swiss Joint Committee on S&T was held on 23 September 2011 in Berne. The latest [5th] meeting of the Joint Committee was held on 30 April 2019 in Berne.

  1. Consular Dialogue: The 1st round of the composite dialogue on Consular and Legal matters was held in New Delhi on 2 March 2012. The latest [5th] round of the India-Switzerland Consular Dialogue was held in Berne on November 11, 2019. 

  1. Financial Dialogue: The 1st round of the Financial Dialogue was held in Berne on 6 July 2012. The latest [4th] round was held on 11 May 2021. 

  1. Defence Dialogue: The 1st Defence dialogue was held on 18 November 2016 in New Delhi. Next meeting is proposed to be held in August/early September 2022.

D. 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. 


Bilateral Trade & Investment: As per EXIM Bank, India figures, Switzerland was the 11th largest trading partner for India with the total bilateral trade including bullion, amounting to USD 18.09 billion in 2019-20. Switzerland invested FDI equity worth approximately USD 5.01 billion in India from April 2000 to December 2020 thus becoming the 12th largest investor and accounting for about 0.96 % of total FDI in India during this period. More than 350 Swiss companies have a presence in India through their own subsidiaries and joint ventures. Overseas Direct Investment from India to Switzerland for the duration from April 2017-May 2020 was USD 1.61 billion (3.74% of total Overseas Direct Investment) placing it at 5th position. 


The Embassy of India in Berne has initiated the Momentum of India: Swiss SMEs Programme (MISSP) for facilitating the entry of Swiss SMEs into the Indian market. Its 3rd year titled MISSP3.0 was launched on 1 March 2021. 


E. Sectoral Cooperation


Science & Technology: During the State visit of Hon’ble President Shri Ram Nath Kovind to Switzerland, a Letter of Intent in the form of an India-Switzerland Science and Innovation Alliance between the Government of the Republic of India and the Swiss Federal Council was signed in September 2019. To oversee and coordinate S&T Cooperation, the Joint Committee on Science and Technology has been set up. The Call for Proposals 2020 will support proposals in cutting-edge Systems Medicine including current COVID 19 pandemic. India was the Country Guest of Honour in the 8th Geneva Health Forum held from 16-18 November 2020 in Geneva. 


Railways: During the visit of the Swiss President to India in August-September 2017, two MoUs were signed in the field of Railways. The first joint Working Group (JWG) Meeting between India and Switzerland under the MoU was held on October 21, 2019 at New Delhi. 


Civil Aviation: An Air Services Agreement (ASA) was signed in May 2001. Swiss Airlines commenced direct flight to Delhi from December 2007. The Protocol amending India-Switzerland Air Services Agreement was signed in March 2020. 


Education/Skill Development: Minister of State (I/C) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Mr. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, visited Switzerland to participate in the 2nd International Vocational and Professional Education and Training Congress from 20-22 June, 2016. A MoU to institutionalize bilateral cooperation in the areas of skills development and vocational education and training was signed. 


Tourism: There is an increase in the number of Indian tourists traveling to Switzerland. In 2017, tourist from India had 7,39,185 overnight stays. The Embassy and the India Tourism Office, Frankfurt organized a Webinar for Swiss Tourism Operators with a focus on Adventure Tourism and Luxury Trains in India on August 20, 2020. 


AYUSH: Ayurveda along with 3 other traditional systems of medicine i.e. Chinese, European and homeopathy, has been approved for federally recognized national diploma examination in Switzerland. During the 8th Geneva Health Forum, a session on ‘Indian Traditional Medicine Systems interacting with Modern Medicine System’ was held on 17 November 2020.


Climate Change & Environment: During the State visit of Hon’ble President Shri Ram Nath Kovind to Switzerland from September 11-15, 2019, MoU on Technical Cooperation in the field of Climate Change and Environment between Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change and Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation has been signed.


Cultural relations & people to people contacts: The two countries do not have an institutional arrangement on cultural cooperation like Cultural Cooperation Agreement or CEP. Numerous Swiss artists and researchers had been actively engaged in the Indian subcontinent, notably Le Corbusier (architecture) and Alice Boner (painter, sculptor, art historian) while film producers such as Yash Chopra brought Switzerland and India closer through popular Hindi movies filmed in the Swiss Alps.


The Embassy has launched the Indian Cultural Network as an outcome of the discussions held with the Indian diaspora on the occasion of Pravasi Bhartiya Divas on January 9, 2018 in Berne. It is the cultural arm of the Embassy of India. A Book Reading event was organized under the framework of the Indian Cultural Network on May 18, 2018 in Berne. A lecture on Indian Miniature Paintings was delivered by Curator of the Indian Miniature Paintings in the Museum Rietberg, Zurich on 14 December in Berne. The Embassy also organised the following exhibitions in Berne: Rumals of Chamba – Embroidered Cloth Exhibition [December 2018] and Vastram: Textile Exhibition [December 2018]. A presentation by Dr. Roshni Arora, Curator of  Rumals of Chamba – Embroidered Cloth Exhibition was held on 19 December 2018 in Berne. The Embassy also organised Namaste Switzerland, a cultural gala and talent event for the Indian diaspora from 17-22 December 2018 in Berne. 


Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the signing of the India-Switzerland Treaty of Friendship, a Festival of India was organised from September-December 2018 all across Switzerland. The Festival of India celebration included the following:

  • Berne and Gumligen – Bharatnatyam performances
  • Berne, Geneva, and Fribourg – Lokrang Performance
  • Brug Windisch, Lugano, and Zurich – Kathak Performance
  • Luzerne and Berne – Dhrupad Performance
  • St. Gallen, Basel, and Berne – Kathakali  Performance

 

Previously, in 1989, a ‘Festival of India’ was held in Switzerland. In 1991, a ‘Festival of Switzerland’ was held in the four metropolitan cities and in Bangalore.


A number of events were held by the Embassy across Switzerland and Liechtenstein celebrating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The Grand Finale event concluding the two year long celebrations was held on 2 October 2020 in Berne. Mission organized a Grand Finale event in Bern in physical format with participation of Swiss Parliamentarian, Universal Postal Union, selected Businessmen, Chambers of Commerce, Students and Indian Diaspora, following corona protection measures. The event included the message by Prime Minister on the occasion Gandhi Jayanti, Address by Ambassador, speeches by eminent personalities on Gandhiji, cultural performances etc. 


International Day of Yoga 2021 was celebrated by Embassy of India, Berne from 04 June 2021 to 26 June 2021 at various venues across Switzerland. The venues are as follows:

  • Berne
  • Basel
  • Lausanne
  • Villeneuve
  • Lugano
  • Davos

Other Cultural events organized recently include:


  • Vishwa Hindi Diwas, [January 10, 2021], (Virtual Event)
  • Webinar on Swachhata [January 15, 2021], Berne (Virtual Event)
  • Celebration of National Youth Day [January 12, 2021], Saas Fee
  • Namaste Switzerland Cultural Gala for India@75 [March 26, 2021], Berne
  • Hindi Diwas September 2021 - Hindi Diwas was celebrated in the month of September (01 to 14) by Embassy of India, Berne. Main events were held in Vevey and Berne.
  1. Screening of documentary on ‘Sardar Vallabhai Patel’ [September 23 2021].
  2. Yoga session was organized by the Embassy of India, Berne during the official visit of Hon’ble MoS Smt. Meenakashi Lekhi on September 28, 2021.
  • Namaste Switzerland – Diaspora Event: Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Smt. Meenakashi Lekhi attended the cultural event and interacted with members of Indian diaspora in Zurich where she also released a booklet on Mahatma Gandhi and inaugurated the ICCR sponsored Khadi Tapestry Exhibition as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
  • Gandhi@150 in Switzerland: Hon'ble Mayor of Villeneuve Ms. Corinne Ingold joined Ambassador Monika K. Mohta to pay floral tribute at Mahatma Gandhi bust at Gandhi Square, Villeneuve, Switzerland. (October 2, 2021)
  • ‘Make In India’ Promotion event was organized by the Embassy of India, Berne under the theme India@75, Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav – Aatmanirbhar Bharat( Oct 26,  2021)
  • Ferneweh Festival 2021 : Presentions on Rajasthan Tourism & Culture, Investment Opportunities, and Mining Sector were projected during the event (October 30, 2021)
  • Celebration of Constitution Day : A photo exhibition on the ‘Making of Constitution of India’ & screening of documentaries on ‘Constitution of India (November 26, 2021 )
  • Screening of Indian Film ‘Bahubali’ : As part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, Embassy organized the screening of Indian Film ‘Bahubali’ at Alpine Museum, Berne on 17 December, 2021
  • Hindi workshop organized by Embassy of India, Berne on 23 December, 2021 as part of the ongoing Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations
  • Celebration of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on 10 January 2022 
  • Screening of documentary to commemorate 125th Birth Anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on 24 January 2022 
  • As part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, Embassy of India, Berne organized "Jharokha: Celebrating Crafts of India" Exhibition at Naturhistorisches Museum, Berne on 03 February, 2022
  • Event on “Interaction with Business Community in Switzerland" as a part of "Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (March 04, 2022)
  • Photo exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi at St. Gallen as a part of celebration of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav(April 21, 2022)
  • Celebration of Holi Festival at Interlaken (May 04, 2022)
  •  Commemoration of 161st birth anniversary of Shri Rabindranath Tagore: Exhibition on Tagore’s painting, cultural performaces, screening of Bengali feature film “Ghare Baire” written & directed by Satyajit Ray(May 07, 2022)
  • Celebration of International Day of Yoga in various cities and locations in Switzerland such as Berne, Zurich, Schilthorn peak,  Basel, Davos, Vevey during June 2022.
  • Inauguration of TRIFED Corner at Embassy of India, Berne on 29 June 2022 

In the Joint Statement issued during the State visit of Swiss President to India in 2017, both sides acknowledged the need for greater people-to-people contact at different levels, particularly in the field of academics, culture, cinema etc. to foster closer ties between the two countries.


Government of India extended the e-tourist visa facility to 37 more countries from 26 February 2016 including Switzerland. There is a significant traffic of Indian visitors to Switzerland.


A MoU on renewal of ICCR chair of Indian Studies at the University of Lausanne between Indian Council of Cultural Relations and University of Lausanne has been signed in September 2019. The MoU was signed between ICCR and the University of Lausanne to establish Rabindranath Tagore Chair on Indian Studies. The MoU had been extended for another 3 years in June 2016. An MOU was signed in 2012 between the Indian Council of Social Science Research and the University of Lausanne for institutional cooperation in social sciences and humanities projects under the Indo-Swiss Joint Research Programme [ISJRP].


President Kovind unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in the commune of Villeneuve which Mahatma Gandhi had visited in 1931. The bust is a gift from India to the commune of Villeneuve as part of celebrations of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. To mark the International Day of Peace and Non-Violence, a statue of Mahatma Gandhi was installed in Ariana Park, Geneva on 14 November 2007. The 150th birth centenary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda were held in Saas Fee on 30 August 2013 with the unveiling of a plaque at Hotel Grand Metropole where Swami Vivekananda stayed in 1896. A bronze bust of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore was unveiled to commemorate the 150th birth Anniversary of Gurudev Tagore on 4 October 2011 during the State Visit of President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil at the University of Lausanne.


Switzerland opened an office of Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council in New Delhi in 2007. Pro Helvetia focuses its efforts on contemporary literature, visual arts, dance and design and offers scholarships in Switzerland as well as in India. The Universities of Berne, Lausanne and Zurich offer courses for the study of Hindi, Sanskrit and Indology. The Rietberg Museum in Zurich reportedly possesses the largest collection of Indian miniature paintings outside India and the UK.


Indian community: The Indian community in Switzerland comprises of approximately 24,567 Indians including over 7,164 persons of Indian origin. Most of them are professionals in Engineering, IT, pharmaceuticals and paramedical fields. There are about 1700 Indian students studying in Switzerland. In 2016, there were about 850 Swiss nationals living in India.


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July 2022