India and Poland’s relations traditionally have been close, friendly, and characterised by cooperation. Both New Delhi and Warsaw are focused on enhancing their partnership and building people-to-people contact between their two countries. Politically, however, relations are not close as they should be.

Rising Status

Both Poland and India are gaining more important roles in the international system. India, with a youth population of over 60 percent, is emerging as a major financial and technological hub in Asia and in the Indo-Pacific region. On the other hand, Poland is the largest country in Central and Eastern Europe and the sixth-largest economy in the European Union (EU). Both have democratic governance structures and common objectives including sustainable development, socio-economic prosperity, green energy, technological advancements for investment, so and so forth. Both countries chose to become free market economies after the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991. Since the end of the Cold War, both countries have seen a steady increase in their growth trajectories and have today established themselves in their respective geographic regions. At this crucial juncture, both countries must come together.

Similarities And Differences

Both countries share multiple similarities from a foreign policy perspective but have certain differences when it comes to geopolitics. During the Cold War, Poland was a communist country with its ruling political parties and leadership closely connected to the USSR. However, Poles had hoped to be aligned with the West after the end of the Second World War. During the same period, India had cordial relations with USSR. Poland witnessed a political and economic transformation after the Cold War ended and its dynamics with Russia changed drastically. India, on the other hand, remained a close partner of Russia.

In contemporary times, both countries have been designing their foreign and domestic policies to foster economic growth, provide prosperity for citizens, and bolster their respective international economic standings. Both Poland and India are also willing to protect their national interests, serve their people, and promote global peace, stability, and security. New Delhi and Warsaw’s foreign policies are therefore directed at better international engagements to enhance business ties and build comprehensive partnerships.

Additionally, both have common partners in Asia and Europe, having increased economic and business ties with Asian partners such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, which are advanced in technology and business. India has also been focused on developing bilateral relations with European countries and with the EU. Not only do Poland and India have common-minded friends on the international stage, but their engagement in the Indo-Pacific region has also been increasing. While there are serious strategic differences between New Delhi and Warsaw’s bilateral relations with the Kremlin, there are multiple factors including tackling climate change, and maintaining a rules-based world order, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, mitigating traditional and non-traditional security threats, etc that can bring the two together and enhance their partnership.

Prospects And Challenges

Poland is a thriving economy and is more financially affordable than other European countries. It has access to seas and quality infrastructure across the country. Tech companies and startups in India could consider extending their business to Poland, while Polish startups and companies could look at increased activity in Indian markets. Poland needs a skilled workforce to sustain its manufacturing units and India could be a significant supplier of skilled workforce. Both countries have also improved educational ties and approximately 10,000 NRIs (Non Resident Indians) currently reside in Poland. Both countries have prospects to initiate joint projects in science, information technology, artificial intelligence, and startup development. New Delhi and Warsaw could also establish trilateral cooperation and working projects by including a third favourable partner such as Japan, South Korea, or Taiwan.

From a geopolitical perspective, Poland might find a strategic partner in India, which follows “multivector diplomacy”, meaning it aims to maintain healthy relations with all countries while simultaneously maintaining “strategic autonomy”, or the ability to act autonomously to pursue national interests without being heavily dependent on other states. Since India is a member of multiple multilateral institutions but not part of any formal geopolitical alliances, it has leverage to conduct its foreign policy independently. Not only has India demonstrated its independent decision-making ability in a period of crisis, it is essential for countries to maintain cordial relations with everyone and have more independent actors on their side in today’s uncertain world. India is also make advancements in science and technology, space, and in indigenous defence production. In such scenarios, India could be a trustworthy partner for Poland, apart from natural partners like EU member states and the US.

The Way Forward

Apart from the differences in geopolitics, both countries have tremendous reasons and prospects to work together. Both countries share a long-standing relationships and high-level diplomatic exchanges. However, no Indian Prime Minister has visited Poland since the end of the Cold War. India’s ties across the world are increasing; Indian PM Narendra Modi has visited distant countries in Africa and Pacific Islands, and has even made multiple visits to France and Germany but has not visited Poland or Central Europe yet. Therefore, the Prime Minister’s Office must consider planning the PM’s visit to Poland, as well as economically and geopolitically emerging countries located in Central Europe.

To enhance ties with India, Poland should plan a Presidential and Prime Ministerial visit to India and include businessmen and scholars as a part of the delegation. It needs to enhance parliamentary groups’ cooperation and exchanges, to allocate more resources and funds to the Polish embassy and consulates in India to strengthen ties with the government and people. On the other hand, to attract Indian leadership, Poland could initiate an India-Central European Summit, as was done in the case of the India-Nordic Summit in 2018 and 2022. During the summit, PM Narendra Modi met leaders of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

In the coming period, we could see a rise of temporary immigrants for education and businesses between the two countries. Poland must therefore focus on making its “Karta Pobytu” process for issuing temporary residence quicker and more effective. Additionally, both countries should focus on creating a conducive environment for businesses in their documentation processes.

There are multiple prospects in bilateral relations; therefore, it’s better to build off a concrete strategy that both countries could implement. Polish decision-makers should devise a plan for at least one decade to develop relations with India. Poland is enhancing its ties with Indo-Pacific countries, and a close partnership with India would be fruitful in the long run. Therefore, it is critical to have an ongoing and well-designed strategy to develop Poland-India relations in the political, economic, scientific, and cultural spheres.