President Patil to visit Poland amid growing business ties

April 22nd, 2009 - 12:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil By Surender Bhutani
Warsaw, April 22 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil arrives in Poland on a four-day visit Thursday, the first trip here in 13 years by an Indian head of state to a country where India’s profile has gone up tremendously in the last five years.

A big agenda and a hearty welcome await Patil when she arrives in what is today the largest nation in Eastern Europe. The last Indian president to come here was Shankar Dayal Sharma in 1996.

Patil will be received by her Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski Friday. After their talks, the two sides will sign agreements related to tourism and health.

In the backdrop of burgeoning economic ties, 24 members from the Indian business community will form part the president’s delegation, including industrialist Prakash Hinduja. The Poland-India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PICCI) has arranged a big meeting for them with Polish enterpreneurs.

There are many Polish companies which are interested in doing business with India.

“The profile of India has gone up tremendously in Poland in the last five years. Everyone still sees India as a huge market even in these recessionary days,” said J.J. Singh, president of PICCI.

President Patil will also meet Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, parliament Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski and senate Speaker Bogdan Borusewicz.

The Indian delegation accompanying the president will be led by Nalin Surie, secretary (West), in the ministry of external affairs. Incidentally, Surie had served as Indian ambassador to Poland from 1997 to 2000.

“Though Poland and India have been traditional friends ever since the two nations became independent after World War II, it is a long time since any head of state from India has visited Poland,” Ambassador Tadesz Chomciki, head of the Asia desk at the foreign office, told IANS.

“In the past, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi had visited Poland in 1955 and 1967 respectively, but no Indian prime minister has come to Poland since 1979. In that year Morarji Desai had come on an official visit at the invitation of the Communist government. It is surprising that no Indian prime minister has come to Poland since the fall of Communism in 1989,” said Janusz Krzyzowski, president of the India-Polish Cultural Committee.

Indo-Polish trade zoomed to $800 million in 2008 from a small sum of $200 million in 2003. Many important computer companies such as Tata Consultany Services and Reliance have made Poland their base in Eastern and Central European operations in the last five years. Indian origin steel baron Lakshmi Mittal controls 70 percentage of steel mills in Poland.

At the same time, Indo-Polish military cooperation has increased manifold after the visit of then defence minister and current External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in December 2004. Last year Indian Army chief Gen.Deepak Kapoor had also paid a visit to strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries.

On Saturday, the president will make a tour of Krakow, one of the most beautiful places in Poland, and address students and staff at the Jagiellonian University. Krakow was the Polish capital during medieval times and is a heritage city adopted by Unesco.

On the last day, before flying back to India, the president will make a tour to the Auschwitz concentration camp where six million Jews were killed in gas-chambers by the Nazis during World War II.

(Surender Bhutani can be reached at

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