Job hunting abroad? Mention Gujarat link

Job hunting abroad? Mention Gujarat link

By: || Updated: 15 Dec 2014 03:46 AM
New Delhi: Narendra Modi is creating jobs for his fellow Gujaratis. Not in India, but abroad and that too in countries far from Indian shores.




But these are countries which hope to deepen relations with India, which they believe the new Prime Minister is trying to restructure through his singular vision.


A Gujarati, Nadir Patel, arrived in New Delhi this weekend to assume charge as Canada's new high commissioner in India as soon as President Pranab Mukherjee gives Patel a date to present his credentials.


In Washington, precisely 37 days after the BJP declared Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, a Gujarati, Nisha Desai Biswal, took up the key job as the US state department's point person for South Asia, of which India is her biggest portfolio.


Not content with such a gesture, President Barack Obama searched hard for a Gujarati of high standing to go as his ambassador to New Delhi. Unable to find anyone to fit the bill or willing to move to India for two years, he settled for the next option: sending a non-Gujarati Indian American to Roosevelt House, the American diplomatic residence in Chanakyapuri.


It is preposterous to think that Japan can find a Gujarati in Tokyo to do the kind of job that Biswal is doing in Washington. Or send someone like Patel to New Delhi. But the Japanese are thinking out of the box too and falling back on strong Gujarati connections.


As a follow up to Modi's recent visit to Japan, a senior Japanese civil servant with deep links to Gujarat has found a new job in New Delhi. Kenichiro Toyofuku has joined the commerce ministry's department of industrial policy and promotion as head of a special team named "Japan Plus," which Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe agreed to create at their summit in September.


Of all the jobs for Gujaratis or those with Gujarat connections that Modi is working as a catalyst to create abroad, the Japanese initiative is the most creative. Toyofuku was earlier deputy director-general of the Japan Trade Promotion Organization (JETRO) and in that role, he promised Modi early last year that 100 Japanese companies would, by 2016, bring new investments to Gujarat where Modi was then chief minister.


Flagship investment or trade organisations like JETRO usually set up shop in foreign capitals or in India's case, they would go to the big metros like Mumbai or Chennai. But Toyofuku was instrumental in opening a JETRO office in Ahmedabad.


The Gujarat connections of Toyofuku - who belongs to Japan's ministry of economy, trade and industry - go way back to some years before his time in JETRO. When several industrialised countries like Canada and the US were ostracising Modi under pressure from human rights lobbies, Toyofuku travelled to Gandhinagar in 2006 to meet the chief minister.


He was then a senior trade official at the Japanese embassy in New Delhi. His mandate during that trip was to find ways to ease shipping facilities for Japanese automakers, who had invested in Gujarat. Modi swiftly fulfilled Toyofuku's requests.


No one would officially confirm this, but it is understood that in his new role in the commerce ministry in New Delhi, Toyofuku will be sending fortnightly reports about the progress of Japanese investment efforts in India directly to Modi. And he will have the Prime Minister's ear whenever he seeks it in order to fulfil his new mandate.


Patel, in his early 40s, is the youngest Canadian high commissioner in India. New Delhi is one of Canada's biggest diplomatic outposts in the world and has been home to some of its very senior diplomats. So, there was surprise when Patel was named to head the mission.


He was in New Delhi recently with foreign minister John Baird and International Trade Minister Ed Fast, and impressed those who came into contact with him. Most recently, Patel was assistant deputy minister for corporate planning, finance and information technology, and chief financial officer at the foreign and trade ministry in Ottawa.


Earlier, he was Canada's consul-general in Shanghai. A fluent Gujarati speaker, he was born in the state but emigrated to Canada at a very young age.


In the Gulf states, where Indians have no role in government or diplomacy, a subtle change is in evidence. In the numerous consultancy bodies with which local and Indian governments deal, especially on commercial issues, Keralites who long held sway are yielding ground. Gujaratis as well as Sindhis with connections in Gujarat are assuming a bigger role, thanks to Modi's ascent in New Delhi.


-The Telegraph, Calcutta

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