An interview with India’s Ambassador to Kuwait H.E. Dr. Adarsh Swaika
Influenced by some of his very close senior school-friends who were very passionate about civil services
-by Eng. P.Senthilkumar with N.C. Mohandoss, Indian Frontliners( Silver Jubilee year!)
Indian Frontliners (IFL) - Kuwait a non-profit organization registered with Indian Embassy in celebrating its silver jubilee of 25 years of Community Services. It has the privilege to interview our beloved Ambassador Dr. Adarsh Swaika on the eve of their Silver Jubilee Celebrations. We met with the Ambassador for the interview to get an insight of him.
His Excellency Dr. Adarsh Swaika had spent his early childhood in Asansol, West Bengal. He did major part of his schooling from a residential public school ‘Vikas Vidyalaya’ in Ranchi. He did his B.Sc, M.Sc and PhD in Chemistry from the renowned Delhi University.
Dr. Adarsh, 2002 batch IFS officer also served as director in the UN division of India’s Ministry of External Affairs and holds a PhD in chemistry and speaks Hindi, Bengali and Russian. In his career, he has served on Indian missions at Beijing, Sofia and Moscow. Dr. Adarsh earlier was serving as the Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs before moving to Kuwait.
His Excellency Dr. Adarsh Swaikha given his thoughts on each of the questions interviewed and it is brought to the joy of our readers.
**What is your unique challenge in Kuwait as Ambassador?
As an Ambassador of India to Kuwait, it is really special to see deep and historical bonds of connection between the Kuwait and India, particularly at the people-to-people level. The challenge is to effectively showcase to our Kuwaiti friends, the new India and the opportunities it offers, for greater bilateral cooperation in diverse areas.
**What was your perception about Kuwait before coming here? And how do you see Kuwait after assuming charges here?
Before coming to Kuwait, my perspective of Kuwait was limited to that of a wealthy oil-producing country, the iconic Kuwait Towers, a very hot country and that of a big Indian diaspora. After coming to Kuwait, I can say that I have a far better and wider perspective, the most important of which is the tremendous goodwill for India and Indian community in Kuwait. The people are so friendly and warm that one feels as if it is one’s second home. The infrastructure of the city is quite good and the Gulf street area overlooking the beach side where I stay is beautiful. It is good to see how the country is aiming to achieve its Vision 2035.
**How is Kuwait-India relationship? And how you can make it improve further?
Kuwait-India relations have traditionally been warm and friendly. India was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Kuwait. India is also one of the largest trading partners of Kuwait. The Indian rupee was the only legal tender in Kuwait till 1961. The Indian culture, including films, dance, music etc is widely appreciated by Kuwaitis. The presence of a large number of Indians in different sectors has contributed significantly to the country's development and makes the relationship people-centric. Overall, the relationship is excellent but the areas of cooperation could be further diversified.
The relationship could be further strengthened and diversified through the following steps, the work on which is already underway:
High-level visits: There has been some lag in high-level visits from both sides. These need to happen more from time to time so that important decisions and understandings could be reached at leadership level that provides guidance for strengthening the relations.
Strengthening and diversifying economic cooperation: The bilateral trade has been growing incrementally in the last few years and crossed USD 12 billion for the first time last year. However, 90% of the trade basket is roughly exports of petroleum products to India and imports of food products from India. There is, therefore, a considerable scope for further diversifying the trade basket.
Greater opportunities lie in investment cooperation, both portfolio and FDI. India today is one of the most attractive destinations world-wide with over USD 80 bn of FDI coming to India last year. Kuwait with one of the largest ‘sovereign wealth funds’ could look at more investments in India. The ‘Make in India’ program along-with the ‘Production-linked Incentive scheme’ in designated sectors of Government of India holds tremendous possibilities for FDI from Kuwait as well.
Cooperation in education and science: This is a promising sector for greater cooperation. While there are 25 Indian schools in Kuwait following CBSE curriculum and having over 50,000 students of different nationalities, there is very little cooperation in higher education between universities and technical institutions of both countries. Today, some of the premier Indian Universities are setting campuses abroad, including the IITs. We need to consider such cooperation with Kuwait given the familiarity between our societies and cultures.
There are MoUs in place between CSIR, Ministry of Earth Sciences, ISRO of India and KISR of Kuwait but there has not been a strong cooperation flowing from it. It will be good if joint research / projects could be developed in these sectors.
Deepening cultural ties: Kuwait and India have a shared cultural heritage through people to people linkages over centuries. There is great appreciation for Indian culture, including films, music, dance, cuisine etc in Kuwait. In fact, some of the Kuwaiti food is influenced by Indian cuisine. There are common words which are spoken widely in both countries. Cultural events and programmes are being organized both by the Embassy and the Indian community organizations regularly. The need is to familiarize the youth in both these countries with these facets of our close connect.
Addressing challenges faced by Indian expatriates: A large number of Indian expatriates reside and work in Kuwait. It is natural that there will be some consular issues from to time. It is, therefore, important to address them soon so that they do not become an irritant in the otherwise excellent bilateral relations. Both countries can work together to address the challenges faced by some Indian expatriates, such as issues related to employment, wages, working conditions etc.
Strengthening regional and international cooperation: Kuwait and India can work together to address regional security challenges and enhance strategic cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism, maritime security, disaster risk reduction etc.
Promoting tourism: India is an attractive tourism destination for people across the world, including Kuwaitis. While there are some favoured tourist places that Kuwaitis frequent like Kerala, Goa, Mumbai, Delhi etc, there are equally good other tourist destinations in India that could be considered. Overall, there is significant potential for Kuwait-India relations to grow and strengthen, and both countries are taking steps to achieve this goal.
**What is the major export from India to Kuwait and how we can maximize it? Any other plans to increase in other commodities?
The major exports from India to Kuwait include food products, chemicals, engineering goods, electrical appliances, automobiles, etc. There is good scope in further diversifying the trade basket.
In addition to the existing commodities, there is potential to increase exports of other products such as pharmaceuticals, electrical equipment, renewable energy products etc. The potential of exporting services such as IT and healthcare to Kuwait cannot be over-emphasized. Addressing some of the regulatory issues could also have a positive impact.
**Indian Human Capital is one of the major strengths in Kuwait. Still, we have many problems in the recruitment, salary, false promises, other benefits, etc., and people are stranded in Kuwait. How do you see this? And any possible solutions?
I fully agree with the proposition that Indian human capital in Kuwait is one of the major strengths of our bilateral relations. The contribution of the large Indian community to Kuwait's economy is significant and is widely acknowledged.
However, it is also true that there have been some instances of Indian expatriates facing issues related to recruitment, salaries, false promises, and other benefits. It is important to, therefore, adhere to legal channels of migrations as per the laws, rules and regulations of India and Kuwait. We have recently signed an MoU on Domestic Sector workers. Proper implementation of this MoU by both sides, including the employer and employee, can solve most of the issues.
The Embassy is also engaged in dissemination of information regarding the procedures of legal migration so that Indian nationals intending to come for work to Kuwait do not fall in the hands of illegal agents.
Government of India is also working on skill development among its citizens to enhance their employability in the international job market. This is being done by establishing training programs and collaborating with the private sector to identify and promote skill sets that are in demand..
**How do you see the Indian Engineers working here facing problems with Kuwait Society of Engineers certification and NBA related issues? This problem is existing since Covid times and any solutions you are planning to bring in once for all?
Both sides are working on this issue. We are hopeful that this issue would be resolved in due course.
**What makes YOU unique?
I do not think that there is anything that makes me unique. As an Ambassador of India to Kuwait, it is my duty and obligation to make consistent efforts to strengthen our bilateral relations with Kuwait as well as ensure the welfare of the large Indian community in Kuwait, with the support of my Embassy team.
**When have you decided to come to the Indian Administration/ Foreign services? What was the trigger point?
There was no trigger-point as such. But I was influenced by some of my very close senior school-friends who were very passionate about civil services.
**What are your goals for the future to strengthen the ties between Kuwait and India?
The main goal is to strengthen and diversify our bilateral relations in different fields. For that, it is very important to have high level political visits from both sides frequently, which has unfortunately stagnated for some time. It would be my endeavour to push for high-level visits so that decisions taken during such meetings could lead to concrete results.
In terms of focus areas, my particular attention is on economic cooperation especially investments, education and science to name a few. The other crucial area is to further streamline the recruitment of manpower in Kuwait from India through safe, orderly and legal migration.
**What is the prevailing challenge for the Indians in Kuwait from your point of view?
The immediate challenge in general at present is restrictions on family visas that continue as part of policy level decisions taken by during Covid times. There are some other consular issues that are being taken up with the Kuwaiti side.
**If you want to change one thing in Kuwait? What would be that?
The summer in Kuwait, which is beyond me or anybody. Honestly speaking, I want Kuwaitis to look at todays’s new India from the point of view of their own interest, whether it is for investment, education, tourism or anything else.
**What is your personal message to the Indians in Kuwait?
To the Indians in Kuwait, I would like to say that they are an important part of the Kuwaiti community, and their contributions to the country are valued, both by the Kuwaiti government and people as well as by the government of India. I would encourage them to continue doing their good work and follow the rules of Kuwait Government.
IFL Book an yearly publication, outlines achievements of India and Indians all over the world. This year, on it’s SILVER JUBILEE –
“IFL-25” book is dedicated to “Incredible India” featuring Tourism in India. Articles will be released on Friday 26-05-2023 and will capture the Ambassador’s Key message of Education Tourism, Medical tourism & Leisure Tourism in India.