“We are closely looking at Make in India and Clean India”
H.E. Mr Miloslav Stasek, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to India
His Excellency, Mr Miloslav Stasek, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to India speaks on a range of issues with India Empire’s Assistant Editor, Misha Singh at his Embassy office in Chanakyapuri
What kind of opportunities do you see for Czech companies in the Indian economy today?
We see a lot of changes with the new Government which took over last year in May. There are areas of cooperation with India that are the traditional ones coming from the late 60’s and 70’s through the participation of Czechoslovakia in the industrialization of India. We have continued to collaborate in various industries like engineering, technology and defence. With the changes that have happened, there are some new openings which are appearing for Czech companies and investors in India. We would definitely like to follow the major initiatives of the Government like ‘Make in India’, ‘Clean India’, and more focus on enhancing India’s infrastructure.
There are opportunities in the civil aviation sector as well. Czech companies are already bidding in concessional airports, and aircraft such as Let L - 410 for local and domestic operation. We are offering small training planes as well. We are quite strong in radar—one of the Czech companies has already sold about 14 radars to India. We are also participating in tenders in the railway industry which is booming in India. The new Government has a separate budget for the industry which is a clear sign that railways is one of the major priorities for the Indian Government, very important both socially and economically. I believe that is because on one side it is one of the major connecting links for the movement of the people, services and goods. On the other, Indian railways are employing a large number of people. So the social aspect of creating new working opportunities is definitely there and we are the first country to sign the strategic partnership in the railway sector with the new Government in August last year.
We recently had a visit by the railway delegation and we have a business meeting back in the Czech Republic to discuss projects that Czech companies could participate in. Food and Agriculture sectors are also very interesting for our country because we are offering machineries like tractors for which we are focusing mainly on Punjab and the North East Region. We are also focusing more on the pharmaceutical industry, this is the area where more Indian companies are active in the Czech Republic and searching for some investment and business opportunities. I would also like to talk about IT because this is what India is famous for and our companies are also trying to sync with India to outsource the brands and work for us in Europe.
The Skoda cars are doing an excellent job in India and I would like to consider them as our second ambassador in the country.
On the economic front, India is one of the ninth largest investors in the Czech Republic and its ranking is definitely improving. It makes me really glad to see how the volume of Indian investment in the Czech Republic is growing every year.
India has become the second major trade partner of the Czech Republic. This is very significant, talk us through the same.
India is definitely one of the most important partners for us and is also the second major trade business partner in Asia. Our Government has formulated priorities for economical progression for the period 2012 – 2020. Twelve priority countries have been shortlisted, India, of course, is one of them. Our trade target is set to reach USD 2 billion with India by 2016, which I think is achievable.
Please tell us about major Czech investors in India…
The major investor is Skoda Auto, we have investment in a factory in Aurangabad. The second biggest is the financial group, PPF, their company Home Credit is in micro financing. Their main operations are in Delhi but they are extending the platform further and by next year they will be employing almost 15,000 people in India. Another project that has completed is Bonatrans Company, they are producers of wheels for trains and metros. This is also an investment that we allocated in Aurangabad. Generally, our companies like Maharashtra as their location which is why the main investments we have made in India are targeting certain communities in Aurangabad, Pune and, of course, Mumbai.
Similarly, please talk us through the major Indian investors in the Czech Republic…
They are many of them, we are so glad that the Czech Republic has attracted the biggest groups and conglomerates of India to invest there. From the eastern bloc in the central European countries, we are the most successful one in terms of per capita investments. In IT Sector, Infosys created a hub in Brno, the second biggest city in the Czech Republic, and have employed over 500 people. They are opening another one in Prague. They have also opened an operation in London and are able to cover entire Europe from there.
We also have companies like Ashok Leyland and Tata Tea, basically all the big groups from India are building a presence in the Czech Republic.
On the cultural and academic front. The Oriental Institute has a long history of engagement in language, literature, history and politics. We are approaching nearly 100 years of establishment of that institute. Do you have any plans to have greater cultural or academic exchange between India and the Czech Republic devising the run up of institute’s 100th Anniversary?
We already have started, we campaigned last year. Besides 2014 was the year of Czech-India cultural relations. For this project, the main focus was on the promotion of tourism in which we organised exhibition on Czech castles. We toured all over India and the response has been good as we are receiving hundreds of visa applications every day. This campaign was also encouraged by the collaboration between Bollywood and the Czech Republic because of which there is at least one big budget Bollywood movie being shot there. The last one was ‘Bang Bang’, before that ‘Rockstar’ was shot in Prague. This has helped in encouraging people to visit the Czech Republic. With the PVR Cinemas, we also run a project for the honeymooners, in this we have framed special packages for newlyweds and families to travel. There were also a lot of musical and cultural activities in which various groups performed. Of course, the exchange of languages is very important; we have a faculty teaching the Czech language at the Delhi University for which the response is quite good.