Several weeks ago President Park Geun-hye put together a historic visit to New Delhi on a four-day session to hold delegation level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
In tow with her were technology ministers.
Historically, relations between the two countries have been merely warmish, inexplicable in their policy calculus. Though Korea and India formalized relations in 1973 and the former is the fifth largest foreign investor in the latter, presidential visits between the two did not occur until 1993 and since then on only three other instances (1996, 2006, 2014). Lee Myung Bak visited in 2010 but only as a guest of India’s Republic Day. To stave off one-dimensional investment into China, by the late ‘90s the Korean public strongly insisted that the government take a more aggressive approach to put India on the forefront of its economic mind. Late president Roh Muhyun (2003-2008) was one of the first to actively voice concerns that cool incubation between Indian software and Korean information technology would bring inefficient and unsuccessful outcomes in policy. Korea is, after all, a strong peg to India’s `Look East’ policy.
The past few years have noted an optimistic escalation of activity. Bilateral trade includes a 2009 free-trade agreement and in 2012 a reported $18 billion in commerce. Strategic partnership ensures ties between Asia’s third and fourth largest economies. Korean firms have performed extraordinarily well in India, owning up to a 65% stake in Indian firms due to preferential treatment in the CEPA framework. Both countries have expressed interest in defense cooperation (Korea has a cost-effective military industrial complex). Seoul additionally concluded a successful civil nuclear agreement with New Delhi to participate in India’s budding nuclear energy market.
For the mid-January meeting of Ms. Park with India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and other senior staff, it appears Seoul has committed to blacken into font policies conducive to a next phase in technological development with India: software.
There on 17 January the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology held a summit attended by a bevy of government departments, public institutes, and companies such as Posco, Samsung, and Nasscom, among others. Minister Choi Mun Kee introduced software as the innovation strategy and critical talisman to move the `Creative Economy’ forward in both Korea and India. India is a software powerhouse with abundant human resources while Korea has well established support in research and development and a long list of ICT speculators.
Obstacles still remain in the approach the two governments’ apply, the current status of plans that may need updating, and philosophical differences in policy directions between New Delhi and Seoul. So important is India’s software to Seoul’s ventures in information and communications technologies that both signed, at the roundtable discussion, the Software Mutual Development and Cooperation Center and a memorandum on `Cybersecurity and Information Protection.’ The two are expected to build a software platform of synergetic effects of convergence going forward.
In the rapidly changing world economy, technological innovation continues to be prime awareness due to technology trajectories, short life cycles of products, and exponential globalization of the world’s corners. For business firms, assuming innovative technologies can be a source of long term success. A corresponding policy strategy has become a significant consideration for a government to judge the success of its policy efforts.
Both countries are wary of political minefields that await direct foreign investment and the ongoing preservation of old traditions when communication breaks down. The recent visit by President Park is a strong statement and confidence booster that could bring more Korean capital investment projects into India’s vast financial needs. Cross-incubation of software investment will strengthen India’s `Look East’ policy and meet it economic requirements. It is up to Korea to make its presence felt in both the space and appetite of India. Both countries can be at the bleeding edge of software development and such productive dialogue can lead the two great nations to meet more often than once in every ten years.