• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • Events
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
BW Businessworld

Growing In Mushroom Country

Photo Credit :

His grandfather was born in Austria. His father was born in Italy. He was born in Yugoslavia and his children were born in Slovenia. And they have lived in the same place for many generations. This is the striking personal history of Borut Perenič, the chief guide at Postojna Caves in Slovenia.

This is also the history of Slovenia that became an independent country only two decades ago. Until then, the proud Slovenes were under foreign rule.

Slovenia is a young country with a history of 250,000 years when humans first settled in the region. Slovenes have maintained their own language, culture, cuisine despite centuries of foreign rule. And in that, they share a similar history with Indians.

In recent years, there has been an increased engagement between Slovenia and India though now the relationship is gathering strong momentum. At the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) held last week in Slovenia, India was a partner country. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Gen V K Singh, spoke at the inaugural session which was addressed by Slovenia President Borut Pahor and Deputy Prime Minister Karl Erjavec.

BSF began nine years ago to create a platform to bring together central, south east Europe and the Balkans. A critical effort is on to redefine their engagement with global economies. This engagement is being done on their own terms that are independent of European giants France Germany and Russia.

India is beginning to play an important role here. Slovenia’s Koper Port on the Adriatic Sea can become a terrific gateway to connect Central Europe with South Asia. Indian exports to Central and South East can enter from Koper and avoid the more distant options in Hamburg and Rotterdam. Slovenia can access South Asia through the same port.

There are many synergies in services. At the India session, Prakash P. Hinduja, Senior Member of Ficci Executive Committee and Chairman of the Hinduja Group, said that financial institutions were beginning to collaborate between the regions. Indian companies are in talks with local partners to expand their presence in manufacture of automotive products and pharmaceuticals. Deep Kapuria, Chairman of the Regional Committee on Central Europe at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Chairman of Hi-Tech Group said: “In high technology, India can gain from the R&D strengths of Slovenia. And Slovenian companies can work with Indian partners to expand in central Europe.”

Samo Hribar Milič, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia said, “Both countries have to know more about each other’s strengths. The process has begun but must be accelerated.”

Chander Verma, Chairman of Continental Construction Projects and also President of Indo-Slovenia Business Forum, said that the industry is now seeking government intervention in increasing logistical and flight connections between the regions.

Indian industry leaders are now creating an independent plan for central and south east European markets. Slovenia is critical for both. Even the government is now engaging with Slovenia with renewed energy.

Slovenia enjoys the best of many worlds. More than 60 per cent of its land has forests and mountains. Picking mushrooms is a national passion. Its Alpine lakes are among the purest in the world. The tap water in Slovenia is purer than many bottled brands. Then there is the Mediterranean riviera in the town of Piran close to Koper Port. And as industry leaders and travelers expand their presence in Slovenia, they must make the most of the excellent Slovene wines and cuisine.

It won’t be tough doing business in Slovenia.  

The author is a Consulting Editor with Businessworld. You can write to him at [email protected] or tweet @pranjalsharma