PM Modi’s Portugal visit was a breakthrough in the relationship between the 2 countries. But in the mad race to garner more TRPs, Indian Media focused more on the glam quotient of the trip. PM Modi’s address to Indian Diaspora in Portugal dominated the News and News Bits like “Portuguese PM treats Modi with special Gujarati vegetarian lunch” and “Papad in Portugal” made more noise than the deals signed during the visit.
With PM Modi embarking on his 3 nation 4 day visit to Portugal, USA and The Netherlands, the first stop at Lisbon saw some positive results as expected in form of as many as 11 pacts that were signed. The bilateral MOUs and agreements were varying across different sections.
1 What garnered most headlines was the establishment of a joint fund between the two nations amounting to four million Euros. This joint fund is established to provide a push to research in science and technology. Both Space as well as Ocean sciences comes under the ambit of joint studies and development. The fund aims to establish a unique centre – the Atlantic International Research Centre on the Azores Archipelago. According to the press release, the aim of this Centre is to provide a shared environment to foster new climate, earth, space, and marine research. On marine sciences, it is expected that a research on Indian weather patterns including Monsoon and its relation with atmospheric and ocean behaviour of Atlantic will be studied. PM Modi also said we are looking forward to engage with Portugal through the Research Centre. This centre is to act as a bridge in North-South and transatlantic cooperation.
2 DTAA – The double taxation avoidance treaty: A protocol was signed which amended the existing convention between India and Portugal for avoidance of double taxation. According to the official statement, this will ensure avoidance of double taxation and fiscal evasion. This would also help India and Portugal exchange tax related information seamlessly.
3 MoU in Nano-Technology: This has to be worked out between Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research and the International Iberian Nano-technology Lab Portugal.
4 Public Administration and Governance Reforms: Key stakeholders are Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India, and Ministry of the Presidency and of Administrative Modernization, Government of Portuguese Republic, for ‘Cooperation in the field of Public Administration and Governance Reforms’ – to quote verbatim from press information bureau India. The aim of this is to understand the customer orientation of public service in Portugal which is understood to be the backbone of an efficient public administration system.
5 Cultural Cooperation: A Cultural cooperation agreement has existed since 1980s. Several cultural exchanges have been undertaken after that. The education exchange program is furthered which is slated to see itself unfolding from 2016 to 2019.
6 Youth and Sports: While not much has been made public on this till now, but according to media outlets PM Modi also stressed on people-to-people ties between the two countries saying Costa’s passion for football would help deepen bilateral ties. ‘An MoU on sports and youth affairs was among nine agreements signed between the two countries after Saturday’s talks.’
7 MoU on Cooperation in the fields of Higher Education and Scientific Research: The Portugese foundation for science and technology is to collaborate with IITs – Madras and Gandhinagar – to take the scientific research forward. This is furthering the earlier tieups with Delhi University and University of Goa that we had.
8. An MoU has been signed in Biotech sector details of which are not public yet.
9. Apart from these, Portugal India Business Hub has signed three MoUs with different business units of Portugal. AICEP Portugal Global, Reira Group Goa Desk, and Chamber of Commerce are parties to these agreements. To boost Start-up culture in India is one of the priorities of these.
A greater collaboration between entrepreneurs and Start Ups of both countries has been envisaged by the leaders of the two countries. Recently concluded summit in Lisbon where a large number of successful Indian start-ups had taken part was lauded by PM Modi and it was hoped that Portugal would be a gateway to EU in business. President Costa promised greater cooperation in issuance of Visas to these business ventures.