H.E. AHMAD JAVED, AMBASSADOR OF INDIA TO THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
By: Syed Zia ur Rahman, Yahind.com
India’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ahmad Javed, has said that despite the 38% fall in crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia in value terms, there has been a 15% surge in the volume of crude oil sourced from the Kingdom.
In an exclusive interview with Yahind.com, the Ambassador also disclosed Saudi willingness to invest in the Indian petrochemical and refining sectors. He said India is keen on expanding the existing cooperation within the framework of the National Transformation Plan (NTP) Vision 2030. This is in addition to the ongoing tie-up in the fields of trade, commerce and security.
Ambassador Javed also said India can share its expertise in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, IT, Science & Technology as well as in higher education, where its experience could be of great value to Saudi Arabia. The following is the text of the interview:
1. Your Excellency, there have been reports in the news media about a few Indian youths joining the ISIS from the Gulf countries. Since some Saudi youths have also crossed over from Saudi borders to Syria, how do you see the scope for cooperation between the two countries on the security front?
India and Saudi Arabia have a strategic partnership which encompasses political, economic, and defence cooperation, including the sphere of security. The visit of our Hon’ble Prime Minister to Riyadh in April 2016 was a landmark development in our bilateral relationship. It has helped in further strengthening and expanding the various facets of our relationship
2. In what other areas have the bilateral relations expanded following the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Riyadh early this year?
India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations in economic and socio-cultural fields. The establishment of diplomatic relations in 1947 was followed by high-level visits from both sides. Recently, there has been a renewed impetus on further consolidating and diversifying our ties with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia culminating in the Prime Minister’s visit to Riyadh in April this year. It marks a turning point in our growing engagement with the Kingdom in a strategic direction.
3. What is the current volume of trade between the two countries and the scope for further expansion?
Saudi Arabia is our 4th largest trading partner and also a major player in the energy security sector. India imports almost 20% of its crude oil requirement from the Kingdom. The volume of bilateral trade during 2015-16 stands at $26.71 billion as against $39.27 during the previous year. The reduction in the bilateral trade is on account of the drop in oil prices since 2014. Despite the reduction in crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia by 38% in value terms, there has been a 15% increase in the volume of crude oil sourced from the Kingdom.
There is growing realization on both sides to transform the buyer-seller relationship in the energy sector to one of deeper partnership focusing on investment and joint ventures in their countries. During the visit of our Hon’ble Prime Minister and the follow- up visit by the Minister of State (IC) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, the Saudi side showed interest in investing in the Indian petrochemical and refining sectors.
4. In terms of joint ventures, how do you see the depth of these relations?
Indian companies in almost all sectors have a strong presence in the Kingdom. Construction giants like L&T and Shapoorji & Pallonji have been operating in the Kingdom for the last several years and have undertaken important projects. In other sectors, Indian IT majors like TCS, Wipro and TechMahindra have established their strong presence not only in the private sector but also in the government sector. India looks forward to expanding the existing cooperation under the National Transformation Plan (NTP) Vision 2030.
5. The Kingdom’s leadership is paying great attention to Saudization of the work force in the wake of the fall in oil prices and the need to diversify its economic base. How do you see the potential for expanding these relations in other fields?
As mentioned earlier, India is ready to cooperate with the Saudi Government to realise the objectives of Vision 2030. India can share its expertise, inter-alia, in healthcare and pharmaceuticals as well as IT, Science & Technology. Our experience in higher education could also be of great help to Saudi Arabia.
6. Are any joint ventures in the pipeline between the two countries?
The recent visit of the Hon’ble Prime Minister to the Kingdom has generated a lot of interest among Indian and Saudi Businessmen. We are hopeful that after the Prime Minister’s interaction with the prominent Saudi business leaders, there will be new ventures in India and Saudi Arabia.
7. At present, Saudi Arabia does not have a National Productivity Center for boosting the productivity of its manpower. This is a matter of concern to the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, since thousands of shops have been closed down due to the departure of expatriates, including Indians, who were running such enterprises. Has your embassy taken up this matter at the bilateral level?
Indians continue to be the preferred and the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom with its strength increasing from 2.75 million in 2014 to 3.05 million in February 2016 on account of their skills, willingness to work hard, trustworthiness and law abiding nature.
While we have seen reports about Saudisation in certain sectors of the economy, the Mission has not come across any complaints from the Indian workers, on account of these measures.
8. There have been reports in the Indian news media about Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia affected by the non-payment of salaries for several months. Has your embassy intervened in the matter and with what result?
We have come across complaints from some Indian workers, especially in the construction sector, for non-payment of their salaries for the last several months. The Mission has taken up this matter with the Saudi authorities at the highest level. The Saudi side has assured its full cooperation in addressing all the issues faced by our workers.
9. There have been suggestions in some quarters that the Govt. of India should put in place a mechanism for rehabilitating the returnees from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Has your embassy received any such instructions from the Ministry of External Affairs following the recent visit of the Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V.K. Singh to Jeddah?
Since the issue of rehabilitation of returning workers is handled by the Government of India and the respective State Governments, I may not be able to comment on it. The role of the Mission is limited to ensuring the welfare of our workers in the Kingdom.
10. Union Minister of Commerce, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman, has called for setting up joint ventures in India on a PPP model for utilizing the financial and technical resources of NRIs and returnees from the GCC countries in collaboration with the private sector. They could be in the field of community services like education, healthcare, agriculture, sanitation and wastewater treatment, for which there will always be a demand. In fact, she has shown the way by setting up a Reverse Osmosis (RO) wastewater treatment plant in her constituency in Andhra Pradesh. How do you see the scope for such a joint venture based on a PPP model?
As you may be aware, the Indian nationals can directly contribute towards several flagship initiatives undertaken by the Government including ‘Namami Gange’ and ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’. Recently, we have established the India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians (IDF-OI), as a not-for-profit organization to serve as a credible institutional avenue to enable Overseas Indians to engage in social and development projects in India. IDF-OI will also partner with the State Governments to offer projects identified by the State Governments. It will seek Overseas Indians’ contribution to these projects for India’s social and development programme.
11. Any other message that Your Excellency would like to put across through Yahind.com?
The presence of a vibrant Indian community of over 3 million in Saudi Arabia is a strong pillar of our bilateral engagements. I am proud to mention that the significant contribution of our Indian brothers and sisters to the development of the host country has been well-acknowledged and appreciated by the leadership as well as the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
I take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his Government for their continued support and cooperation for hosting a large Indian community in the Kingdom and ensuring their welfare and security. I am confident that the Indo-Saudi relations will continue to grow and contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond.
Mr. Mohammad Mahmood Ali, Dy Chief Minister,Telangana,Mr. A.K. Khan, Director General, Anti-Corruption Bureau,Telangana, Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Consul General of India in Chicago, Dr. Deepak Kant Vyas, Chairman Redberri Corporation, Mr. Mir Khan, President, Mr. Iqbal Baig, Vice President, Mr. Ashfaq Syed,General Secretary, Glory of Hyderabad, Mr. Iftekhar Shareef, Mr.Syed Hussain, Ms. Gazala Rahman, Ms. Tasneem Osmani and Mr. Khalid Osmani at the Launch of Glory of Hyderabad.
By: Ashfaq Syed, Chicago, USA
Chicago, IL, September 8, 2016: “Hyderabad has always remained as a point of convergence of many different cultures, traditions, festivals, and religions that gave it its distinct cosmopolitan character. Hyderabad’s lingua franca, ‘Dakhini’, is a unique blend of several languages, typifying the true plural character of the city, where people belonging to different castes, creed, and religions live in peace and harmony and participate in each other’s festivals with enthusiasm”, said Mr. Mohammad Mahmood Ali, Dy Chief Minister of Telangana, in his inaugural address of the “Launch of the Glory of Hyderabad” held in Chicago, on Sunday, September 5th, 2016 from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM, at Shalimar Banquets, 280 W. North Ave. Addison, IL.
Continuing his address, Mr.Mahmood Ali said that the ‘Glory of Hyderabad’ is aimed at celebrating the famed ‘Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb’ and portraying the “Hyderabadiyat”, rather than merely glorifying Hyderabad’s historical achievements. “The Hyderabadi Tehzeeb is the traditional mix of civility, hospitality, courtesy, and grace in social interaction, the hallmark of which is respect and consideration”, added Mr. Mahmood Ali.
“Mr. K Chandrasekhar Rao has been considered as the best Chief Minister in India. He is committed in transforming the old city of Hyderabad into Golden city of Hyderabad”, he added.
Mr. A.K. Khan, Director General, Anti-Corruption Bureau of Telangana, who was the Guest of Honor at the event, said that Hyderabad is well known across the globe on account of its rich history and culture, Hindu-Muslim unity, and above all, its unique cuisine. He paid rich tributes to Hyderabadi-Americans for their rich contribution to the socio-economic and educational fabric of the US.
Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Consul General of India in Chicago said that Hyderabad has recently been declared as the most livable city in India and also gained reputation as a home for such global giants as Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, Face book.“While Hyderabad has been protecting and preserving its age-old culture and traditions, it has been proactive in welcoming and embracing the contemporary socio-economic changes”, stated Dr. Sayeed.
Dr. Sayeed added, “I met Mr. KTR, Minister in Telangana Government in his recent visit to the US. Thanks to his professional approach and enlightened leadership, Telangana Government and the State of Illinois are going to sign a number of MoUs very shortly”.
Dr. Deepak Kant Vyas, Chairman Redberri Corporation graciously outlined charitable donation from the Redberri Earth foundation that will include: a Scholarship for a student of need to pursue a Master’s level program in the US with a commitment to return to Hyderabad; establishing a Gold Medal Award at aUniversity in Hyderabad, upgrading a Children’s ward at a selected hospital, and surgery for a polio patient with economic need. “We are committed to partnering with the Telangana Government on projects that make a difference and are repeatable”, he added.
Mr. Vyas opined that the four pillars of Charminar represent Character, Community, Courage, and Confidence. We want to set an example for giving back to the community in a way that reflects our commitment to social responsibility”, he emphasized.
Earlier, Mr. Mir Khan, Chairman, Glory of Hyderabad, in his welcome address, said that the children born and brought up in the US are not familiar with the inherent strengths and an arrayof positivity’s of Hyderabad. He said that efforts will be made, under the banner of the ‘Glory of Hyderabad’ to create awareness among the younger generation about the inspiring history and robust culture of Hyderabad. He paid rich tributes to Dr. Ausaf Sayeed for organizing a number of high profile events in Chicago aimed at showcasing the culture of Hyderabad. He also applauded the generous efforts of Dr. Vyas for his commitment to finding enduring solutions to the problems of weaker sections of society in Hyderabad.
Mr. Mohammad Mahmood Ali presented Lifetime Achievement Award, on behalf of Glory of Hyderabad,to Mr. Khan Lateef Khan, Editor-in-Chief, Munsif Urdu daily for his services to community and for Urdu language, to Mr. A.K. Khan for his Meritorious and Dedicated Police Service, and to Dr.Ausaf Sayeed for his Exemplary Service to the Indian Community of Chicagoland.
Dr. Ausaf Sayeed and Mr. A.K. Khan jointly presented an award to Mr. Mohammad Mahmood Ali for his Charismatic Leadership on behalf of The Hyderabadi Community in Chicagoland.
Mr. Iqbal Baig, Vice President proposed vote of thanks. He made a special reference to the management and staff of Shalimar Banquet for making the event a great success.
Mr. Ali Faheem, President, Shalimar banquets and a businessman of Chicago, who belongs to Hyderabad, came forward to support this event with free hall and snacks for all the guests. He also promised to support ‘Glory of Hyderabad’ in all its endeavors.
‘Glory of Hyderabad’ is a registered organization with Mr. Mir Khan as President, Mr. Iqbal Baig as Vice President, and Mr. Ashfaq Syed as General Secretary.
Ms. Gazala Rahman from ‘Glory of Hyderabad’ was the MC for the event.