should be a certain moral ethics when you are doing business.
I cannot accept businessmen charging an unreasonable amount
of profits Indian High Commissioner Virendra Gupta
Indian High Commissioner Virendra Gupta leaves his posting
in T&T in the next few weeks having transformed and
expanded his countrys relationship with T&T.
In an interview last week, Gupta agreed that the ongoing
India/Caricom Economic Forum being held at the Centre of
Excellence in Macoya was the pinnacle of his achievement.
The forum brings together regional Ministers of Trade and
business leaders and their counterparts from India in a
move aimed at deepening the commercial and economic links
between India and the Caribbean.
The forum is the largest ever initiative by India to promote
those linkages, Gupta says adding that it also signifies
the attention and importance that India is beginning to
attach to its relationship with the Caricom countries.
might understand that today economics and commerce are important
constituency in a countrys foreign policy and diplomacy,
When he was posted to T&T four years ago, Gupta says
he found the bilateral relationship between India and T&T
not entirely to my satisfaction.
While there were extensive cultural, academic and people
linkages, not much was happening on the economic and
It seemed to him that there was some complementarity between
the two economies as India had begun to liberalise its economy,
had emerged on the world scene assuming leadership in many
sectors, including pharmaceuticals and information technology
and had established itself as a reliable supplier of quality
goods and services.
I asked myself why were things not happening between our
two countries, Gupta says, which meant that his immediate
priority was to raise the profile in terms of economic and
commercial exchanges and co-operation.
Guptas method for raising the economic and commercial
profile was to facilitate direct contact between the two
He says that his predecessors had made similar attempts
to raise the economic and commercial profile but those
efforts were not rewarded fully. This was because,
the envoy says, while efforts were being made at the government
levels, there was not adequate interface between the business
governments involvement is necessary to create a favourable
climate to the business communities to trade.
Guptas method was to organise business delegations
and trade fairs from India and visits by locals to India
(including several members of the media).
In the last three years, the Indian High Commission organised
official trade fairs in September 2003 and June 2004 as
well as the Indian/Caricom Economic Forum.
These trade fairs created awareness at the peoples
level and among businessmen that there were business opportunities
so happy that in the last four years these efforts have
paid very rich dividendsour bilateral trade has grown
nearly four or five times in the last four years,
moving to $300 million today from $50 to $60 million.
Gupta says he is convinced that the trade relationship has
not reached its full potential as yet.
In the context of Indias position as one of the largest
economies in the world and T&T being a possible bridgehead
for Indian exports into the entire Caribbean market, Gupta
sees the trade developing from $300 million today to $1
billion within five years.
When the trade was at $60 million four years ago, the business
community in India was not all that interested in T&T
and the Caribbean, but if it is taken to $1 billion it
would be at a substantive level.
The relationship has not only been about trade in goods.
Gupta personally facilitated the signing of a co-operation
agreements between Satyam and MBM, the Ansa McAl subsidiaryfor
which he was highly complimented at the launch of the relationship
And last week, the Business Guardian reported that a subsidiary
of the massive Tata group was in T&T seeking to develop
its relationship with Esprit, an offshoot of Ernst &Young.
Gupta says although India has been successful in increasing
its exports to T&T, this has mostly been in traditional
goods such as clothes and textiles, pharmaceuticals and
He wants to build on the traditional goods but also add
exports from India of sports goods, electrical fixtures,
hand tools, car parts and others.
Last year, just before the trade fair, Gupta was sharply
criticised for claiming that the local importers of Indian
goods were charging profit margins that were too high.
Asked about his comments last week, Gupta says he remains
committed to the idea that there should be a certain
moral ethics when you are doing business.
cannot accept businessmen charging an unreasonable amount
He suggests that the way to increase profits is by increasing
the volume of goods sold not by hiking the price.
The diplomat says India wants to build upon the relationship
with the people of the Indian Diaspora in this country.
we dont want the relationship only to service the
people of the Indian Diaspora. We want to take the relationship
Everything the diplomatic mission did in the last four years,
Gupta says, was meant to reach out to all sections of T&Ts
population and not just the Indian descendants.
realised that there was a huge potential in terms of upgrading
our relationship here and everything I did in the last four
years was directed to achieving that objective of creating
a balance and increasing the outreach of the mission to
all sections of the Trinidadian population.
As an example of the outreach, Gupta facilitated the participation
of a dance troop from India in the Prime Ministers
Best Village festival for the first time.
thought it was an opportunity for us to make a statement
that we were supportive of the festival, he says.
thought that this was, on the Governments part, an
acknowledgement that Indian culture was not something alien
to Trinidad, that Indian culture was really a part of T&T