New Delhi; 18 April : A delegation of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Parliamentary Committee representing the countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland led by Ms Trine Lise Sundnes, MP, Norway called on Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Om Birla at Parliament House Complex, today.

At the outset , Shri Birla welcomed the delegation to India and expressed hope that this visit would give new impetus to the bilateral relations between India and the EFTA countries. He noted that India and the EFTA countries share a common commitment to world peace, non-violence, human rights and fundamental freedoms which form the very basis of a “vibrant democracy”.

Expressing happiness that bilateral relations between India and the EFTA countries has grown stronger in recent years due to the convergence on bilateral, regional and global issues, he highlighted that people -to- people contacts should be promoted to carry forward the momentum. Mentioning Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi’s discussions with the Prime Ministers of Iceland and Norway on the sidelines of the 2nd India-Nordic Summit held in Copenhagen last year, Shri Birla observed that the visit gave impetus to bilateral trade and commerce.

Referring to the expertise of the EFTA countries in life sciences, banking, insurance, research and development, fisheries, maritime transport, renewable energy, Shri Birla expressed hope that India the EFTA would enhance their cooperation in these areas. He also emphasized that both EFTA and India would gain immensely from mutual cooperation in the sphere of Green Energy in which the EFTA countries were industry leaders and had immense expertise.

Mentioning that India is the ‘Mother Of Democracy’, Shri Birla said that India has evolved into a robust democratic system in spite of a high level of diversity. He opined that making this vibrant diversity a strength, India has forged ahead in the last 75 to become the fifth largest economy in the world. Elaborating on this aspect further, he felt that favorable demographics, economic reforms undertaken by the government, resurgence of manufacturing sector and entrepreneurial culture have enabled India to forge ahead .

Observing that India will have the largest population of people in the working age group by the year 2052, Shri Birla noted that in order to make our immense population our strength, the government has initiated several policies and schemes to promote entrepreneurship and skills among the youth. Significant investments are being made in higher education and research and development to nurture this segment and transform them into skilled workforce which would be available not only to India but the entire world as well.

Shri Birla informed the delegation that India has assumed the presidency of G-20 with the theme ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ and espoused his belief in “Vasudeva Kutumbakam”. He hoped that it would boost friendship and mutual respect across the globe and would lead to greater commitment to democratic values, economic integration and strengthen partnerships in the international sphere .

Shri Birla informed the delegation that India would also organize the P20 summit in the near future on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, which would be attended by the Presiding Officers of the Parliaments of other invited nations in addition to the G20 nations. He hoped that the Summit would see purposeful dialogue on the relevance of parliamentary governance and democratic values, which would serve to benefit the entire world.