Ambassador Sunil Jain
Diplomacy has won more battles in the past than war ever did. In modern times, the weaponry used has changed as economy and trade have taken the ladder-top position in the world of diplomacy, which is cementing ties between countries, and engaging people to people contacts.
It is here that in just six months Indian Ambassador to Kuwait H E Sunil Jain has earned the trust and faith of the vast Indian community in Kuwait on one hand, and ensured stronger bilateral relation between the two friendly nations which are traditionally bonded by centuries-old relations In an exclusive interview with The Times, Ambassador Jain said Kuwait and India have historically very close relations, and Kuwait is a major source of crude oil and LPG to India and our relationship is continuously growing.
One of the main agendas discussed during the visit to India by Kuwait’s Prime Minister was to attract much greater investment from Kuwait. “This is a new dimension and is something I wish to add to our very strong relationship, and I have been working very closely with both Kuwait Investment Authority and Kuwait Petroleum Corporation,” Ambassador pointed out. Elaborating he said Kuwait has a huge sovereign fund and India provides the ideal opportunity for investment and good returns.
“With the new government in place in India, investment will be among the priorities,” he pointed out. At present bilateral trade stands around $17.5 billion dollars with about $1 billion worth of goods imported from India. A joint commission meeting between the two countries is scheduled to take place in September and hopefully, several issues will be discussed and deliberated to further the relationship. Indians comprise the largest number of expatriates of around 753,000 and are highly regarded, peaceful, disciplined and hardworking, Ambassador Jain pointed out. With the huge number comes a huge responsibility and the embassy has been actively engaging with community issues, from providing timely information updates to being accessible to one and all.
In fact, Ambassador Jain’s open door policy has in every which way been a success. The overall functioning and efficiency of the embassy has improved drastically with the entire focus on service. Having taken charge in December 2013, Ambassador Jain has immediately implemented a series of community-friendly measures that have been widely applauded. A career diplomat with an engineering background, he has successfully leveraged his experience and knowledge for the larger good of the community and country. Having graduated in 1978 from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) he took up a job in one of India’s largest engineering firms for a short stint.
“I always looked to an international career and was among the early professionals to take the Indian Civil Service exams with engineering as a subject,” he disclosed. In 1981, he joined the diplomatic service and was posted to Venezuela, having taken Spanish as his foreign language subject. This was the beginning of several postings that took Ambassador Jain around the world to Myanmar, Japan, USA, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and now Kuwait.
Ambassador Jain also served in the East Europe division and in the Prime Minister’s Office. During a very interesting diplomatic career spanning 33 years, he also took time off to study. “I enrolled and successfully completed a one year programme for diplomats on International Law from Oxford.”
“On my own initiative I also enrolled in Princeton for a year to do my Masters in Public Policy,” he revealed adding that he felt the need to widen his base to serve the country better. Ambassador Jain was also handpicked by the ministry for his experience in engineering to work on the gas pipeline project which will be the first-ever pipeline bringing gas from Turkmenistan via Pakistan and Afghanistan to India, hopefully, this will be completed in the next five years,” he revealed. Ambassador Jain served in the projects division in the Ministry of External Affairs and his association with Kuwait began with the present embassy building.
“We had to repair and fix the building after the liberation.” he pointed out. In August of 2013 Ambassador Jain was requested to take up his assignment in Kuwait as there were several issues that needed to be addressed. “My taking over was delayed as the visit of the Kuwait Prime Minister was scheduled for November, I was nevertheless associated with the visit in New Delhi.”
Among the many improvements in the embassy he pointed out that services for passport have been reduced to 2 working days giving a huge respite to Indian nationals. Ambassador Jain has also simplified visas for both Kuwaiti nationals and foreigners residing in Kuwait. “We have a very liberal visa regime and Kuwaitis should be made to feel welcome to India,” he remarked. Multiple entry visas are given to all categories, from businessmen, tourists and even for medical visits.
The duration from six months right up to five years is now easily available and has been widely appreciated and welcomed by Kuwaitis as well. This has seen a huge number of travellers to India as a result “I have even given gratis visas to CEO’s and managing directors of companies to promote and encourage their visits to India,” he pointed out. Since taking over Ambassador Jain’s message of being responsive to community’s needs has gone down very well with Indian nationals in Kuwait.
The long-standing issues and complaints of a large community have been dealt with in the most admirable manner. He has even opened the embassy auditorium for Indian associations Constantly seeking suggestions for improvement he adds “Even if you make a slight improvement in whatever we are already doing, it makes a difference.” Ambassador Jain’s positive vibes, helpful nature and right attitude in dealing with community issues have lifted the morale of the community to a very large extent.
In his attempt to reach out to the community Ambassador Jain has also visited Indian nationals serving prison terms in Kuwait. We have a transfer of sentence agreement in place that will soon give prisoners an option to serve some part of their sentence back home. Hearing the vast improvements and changes one would imagine that the past six months have been hectic, but the calm and soft-spoken ambassador’s perseverance in getting his tasks accomplished is admirable. While it seems that diplomacy comes naturally to him, he is always eager to serve better, giving a patient hearing to one and all while fulfilling the huge responsibility he shoulders of the country, counsellor and community.
By Reaven D’Souza