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MEA sports 'big brother' attitude

Hardly 50 Indian representatives come for talk by Norwegian Crown Prince, reports Nilova Roy Choudhary.

india Updated: Nov 01, 2006 20:49 IST

There is clearly a ‘big brother’ syndrome prevalent in the Indian government’s attitude towards smaller nations, and the Ministry of External Affairs is no exception.

The MEA’s “premier think tank,” the Indian Council of World Affairs could muster up barely 50 people to attend a talk by the Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon, on Wednesday evening.

Of those, more than half were Norwegians accompanying the Prince, who had come with a well-prepared speech that packed a lot of substance.

For a country of 4.6 million people (“about as many people as live in Delhi’s southern suburbs,” Haakon said), Norway’s share of world trade is one per cent. After Saudi Arabia and Russia, it is the world’s third largest exporter of oil and has a per capita annual GDP of 60,000 dollars.

Significantly for India, it is energy surplus and is a member of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), from which India awaits a waiver to permit it to begin commerce in nuclear technology, once the Indo-US civil nuclear deal goes through.

Also, it has been closely engaged as a mediator trying to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, bringing the Colombo government and the LTTE face-to-face for a dialogue.

The Crown Prince spoke of major areas of convergence between India (“a country of continental proportions”) and Norway. They share, he said, "a democratic polity", "a political will to engage" and "a participatory approach to addressing challenges".

Haakon, who met President APJ Abdul Kalam and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, said there was tremendous scope for "deepening and broadening" cooperation between India and Norway in energy, petroleum, oil, tourism and maritime sectors.

Norway is also keen to step up cooperation in culture, he said, adding that Indian films could be shot in that country and Norwegian films can be produced here.

At his lecture this evening, he quoted Mahatma Gandhi as saying, "you should be the change you wish to see in the world," but it was apparent his hosts had not fully appreciated the thought.