Interactive sessions, introduction to Swiss-German dialect mark Swiss Embassy workshop
“No longer chocolate, cheese, and watches,” Martin Strub, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Switzerland, said, underlining that the cooperation between his country and India transcended far beyond a recognition of trademark products.
Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a half-day workshop ‘Schweiz in Sicht’ or ‘Focus Switzerland’ at the Goethe Zentrum here on Wednesday, Mr. Strub noted a growing interest here in learning European languages, leading to an influx of Indians in countries such as Switzerland in educational and professional sectors.
He spoke on the various fronts that had benefited from the cooperation, with education and scientific exchange assuming primacy. “Switzerland is not a rich country in terms of resources; it is manpower that we have. Thus, education is integral here. We have started focussing more on undergraduate study and apprenticeships,” Mr. Strub said.
Prioritising basic-level collegiate education was a departure from the perception held by foreign students that only postgraduate study could be equated with the country, he said.
The programme at the German Cultural Centre was an outcome of a brief visit made by Mr. Strub in January this year. The Indo-Swiss symposium on Cohorts and Biobanks with focus on non-transmissible diseases saw doctors and experts from both countries get together and explore possibilities of scientific cooperation.
Forging of such links was supplemented by the improved bilateral trade between both countries, particularly in the area of pharmaceuticals, chemicals for agriculture, and hi-tech industry, he said.
On environmental conservation and waste management, Mr. Strub spoke of how his country excelled in maintaining a strict recycling regime. India could benefit greatly in this regard, he said. “In a few areas here, recycling is done but manually, and the people doing it have no awareness of toxic waste,” he said.
On alternative energy sources, Mr. Strub highlighted India’s potential in utilising solar energy. “This is an area we want to explore further,” he said.
He also spoke of the growing influence of Kerala, as a large number of “summer tourists” from Switzerland opted for the State as their preferred destination. “There are so many Swiss travel agencies offering packages on Ayurvedic treatment. In fact, public health is an area in which we hope to sign a MoU with India, as both the countries stand to benefit a lot from each other,” Mr. Strub said.
This is the first time that the Embassy of Switzerland is holding a workshop that featured interactive sessions on various aspects of the country, screening of short films, and an introduction to the Swiss-German dialect for students at the Goethe Zentrum.