"Kuwait is our vital partner" - Interview with Indian Ambassador Sibi George

IIK Staff Reporter
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Shri Sibi George took charge as the Indian Ambassador to Kuwait at a time when a large number of Indians are facing a tough time here. He has been successful in creating a fresh hope among the community within a short duration of his appointment as the head of the mission.

With several pro-community reforms, Ambassador Sibi George is already receiving acclaims from the community at large. Starting of a weekly open house for consular issues, well-defined use of Community Welfare fund, reforms at Passport service centres... all these within a month is giving a new hope for the community.

In an exclusive chat with IndiansinKuwait.com Ambassador Shri Sibi George shared his views and plans.

"This region is very close to my heart. I served in Cairo, Doha, Riyadh and Iran" Ambassador Sibi George, who also holds a diploma in Arabic Language from American University in Cairo, said.

"I am delighted that Kuwait has very high esteem about the Indian Community. I have met many Kuwaiti friends in this short time, and all of them spoke highly of our community. They have great respect for India and Indian community living here," Ambassador said. We have a stable and historical relationship between India and Kuwait based on trust, and many Kuwaitis had told me about their India connection in many of their families, he said. The Kuwaiti friends highly appreciate the hard working nature and the overall work ethic of our people.

"Yet there is a huge potential to improve our relationship. There are so many stakeholders in our multifaceted relationship be it in the domains of economic, trade, science and technology, tourism, and so on; we need to work on strengthening our engagements with each one of our stakeholders across all these domains. The initial response and support I received from the Kuwaiti nationals and officials are very encouraging," Ambassador who have several plans to strengthen the relationship, said.

"I know these are a difficult time as the Covid pandemic is affecting everyone. This is the time to work together with the community. Embassy looks at our Community and its problems/issues as our priorities," Ambassador said. "We have the resource and the support from the community," he said. Sibi George said that it is not only the 70 staff at the Embassy, but the whole community is my team. The Embassy had already said that it would work together with all community associations. Many of them were removed from Embassy registration in previous years. Several community associations had already welcomed this move. "We all are here to do our work. Whether we are doing any community activity or celebrating some events, we should not violate any rules and regulations of this country. Everyone should respect the rule of the land, whether it is a community association or any individual," Ambassador Sibi George clarified his stand.

With a very keen interest to engage with the community, Ambassador has already planned several activities to work together. He has re-instated the weekly open house to engage with the Embassy. Ambassador, Deputy Chief of Mission and other senior officials will be available during the open house to listen to the community. He has already explained in detail about the India Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) in one of the open house. "It is the community's money, and we have very clear guidelines on how to spend it. We can effectively utilize this for the welfare of our community here", he said. Sibi George had already uploaded the ICWF Application form on Embassy's website. Boxes dedicated to receive applications under ICWF have been kept at the Embassy and all three passport service centres at Sharq, Abbasiya and Fahaheel. Every evening, the boxes will be taken to Embassy, and a three-member committee will go through each application. One of the staff is assigned as a focal point for any query related to this. "I also want it to be very transparent, and on every open house, we will be showing the transactions related details of this Fund," Ambassador said. "What I want is to people to know about this fund and to utilize by the needy members," he said.
Not only the consular side, but he also has a plan to engage with the community on several other fronts. On the cultural side, he opened a thematic library at the Indian Embassy. Several cultural activities are planned. He has already started three separate twitter handles to work with the respective teams.

"When we are engaging with culture, economic development and political engagement, we should not miss out some important elements. One is science and technology," he said. Identifying the potential in science and research in Switzerland, he was in the forefront to form India Switzerland science innovation alliance.

To engage with the professionals and to target the Kuwaiti business community, Ambassador has several plans in pipeline line. A series of events will be held based on "Aatmanirbhar Bharat", of which the first event is planned for 10th September. The other series of events planned to be held will be under the theme is "Momentum in India". India is a land of billion opportunities. Many highly educated Kuwaiti nationals are looking to explore the opportunities. It is our responsibility to show them what India is. The Aatma Nirbhar is not only for the local Indians. It is for building partnership. "I am sure once the pandemic is normalized, we will be able to explore it,' Ambassador said.

Ambassador has already held virtual meetings with senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait including, H E Amb Sami Abdulaziz Alhamad, Assistant Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs, and briefed them about the concerns of the Indian community. As the Covid pandemic affected the whole country, it may take some time to get things streamlined.

Several Indians are stranded in India as Kuwait banned entry from 32 countries. The ban is imposed by the advice of the Ministry of health. "I had already brought the difficulties of our people to the notice of Kuwaiti authorities. I briefed them that in India, things are getting better. We have one of the highest recovery rates anywhere in the world", Ambassador said. "Things will move... it is only a matter of time..." he said.

Several Indians couldn't utilize the amnesty last time due to lack of papers. Many had obtained the Emergency Certificate, but couldn't travel. "I discussed this also with the Asst. Foreign Minister in my meeting. We will continue the engagement and will find a mutually acceptable solution," Ambassador said.

Another major challenge he is facing is to find a solution to the concerns of a large number of Indian engineers in Kuwait. "I have met several engineering associations and had a good understanding of the situation. I also highlighted our concerns to the Kuwaiti authorities during one of my initial meetings. I will continue my engagement with the Kuwaiti side on this and hope that the Kuwaiti government will bring a mutually acceptable solution for this very soon" Ambassador gives hope to the Indian engineers. We will have an open mind to coordinate
with both the governments in India and Kuwait on matters of any concerns raised by our community.

The Embassy is here to work as a team with the Indian community and to engage with the Kuwaiti community fruitfully. "Kuwait is a very important partner in India's economic transformation. We depend on the energy and resources from this part of the world. We also have a sizeable Indian population working here. The partnership is mutually beneficial. We are looking at forging a New India and New Kuwait partnership, he said.


Read this article at www.indiansinkuwait.com