Exclusive Interview with Shri Manoj K Bharti ADDL. SECY. (AD) MEA
| IOP Desk - 24 Jul 2019

Modi Govt Has Given Freedom to States to Interact With the Outside World for Business: Manoj K Bharti

By Onkareshwar Pandey with Dr. Kavita Vikas

Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes in the cooperative federalism, where States are given more freedom to interact with the outside world for any business-related activities. Based on the vision of PM Modi, a separate States Division was started in the Ministry of External Affairs nearly four years ago. Says Shri Manoj K. Bharti, Additional Secretary (AD) Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India. Manoj Bharti, IFS, a facile man with a fecund brain is a kind of blessed soul whose presence summons a tremendous amount of positive energy in and around. He is spirited and lively, much fervent towards people and society. He is an ambassador by profession, maintaining all protocols, yet so homely and close. He honors your being and that’s what the highest degree of humanity in our opinion. He is fond of reading, listening to music, playing the piano and so on. Well settled children and a highly qualified intellectual wife add on gracefulness to his personality. He was a student of Neterhat School, Jharkhand and completed his B.Tech from IIT, Kanpur. By choice or by compulsion, his life has been very dynamic and full of events. Talking with him we found multiple creative minds in one mind. He has made us think of categories in the most unexpected ways. In an Exclusive Interview, Shri Manoj K. Bharti unfolds his significant views on various issues.

Sir, what made you choose this profession? Did you always have clarity about your goal?

- By education, I am an engineer.  I was always interested in learning about new cultures, new languages and travel around the world. When I decided to take the Civil Services Exam, Indian Foreign Service was my first choice.

How tough or easy was the movement from the motherland? Though it was the demand of the service, any unforgettable memory which you like to share?

- Because travelling has been my lifelong passion, movements out of India were not an issue.  I accept that this creates a lot of discomfort to the family, particularly to the children.  My wife also had to leave a government job. We have served in seven different countries and each of them has proved to be an unforgettable experience. These countries include Iran, Holland, Nepal, Turkey, and Myanmar.

Sir, you are the Additional Secretary Economic Diplomacy & States Division. Many people don’t know about this term. What does it mean and what is the importance of this division?

- Till recently, I have served as Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs and look after Economic Diplomacy and States Division.  Both these terms are of recent origin.  With the realisation that bilateral relations with any country these days are dominated by economic, commercial and investment-related interests, a separate Division for “Economic Diplomacy” was created. The job description includes the development of all bilateral cooperation with countries abroad, interaction with domestic business chambers as well as Ministries and Departments in the Government of India wherever an action involves trade or investment-related bilateral issues.

As far as States Division is concerned, it was started nearly four years ago.  It was based on the vision of Prime Minister Modi of cooperative federalism where States are given more freedom to interact with the outside world for any business-related activities.  After all, trade or investment with India takes place from the land of a province in India and the provincial government has an inherent stake in the development of its business. The States Division interacts with the States authorities to understand their requirements and guides them to interact with the outside world.

You have been posted to Belarus and Ukraine as India’s Ambassador. Both are little known countries in India. Tell us something about these countries and our relationships with them.

- It is true that Belarus is a less-known country in India.  However, with a population of nearly 9.6 million people who are technically advanced and highly educated, there has been substantive interaction with this country in terms of scientific, defence and space-related research.  During my stay, President Mukherjee had visited Belarus which started a new phase of intensification of bilateral relations. India imports a lot of potash from this country also.  Indian pharmaceuticals are well recognised and respected in Belarus.

As for Ukraine, very few people in India know that it is the largest country in Europe in terms of area. Ukraine also was the industrial and technological centre for the erstwhile Soviet nation. It still has a number of advanced institutions in various areas including radio technology, ship-building, precision instruments as well as nuclear energy.  India’s Soviet-era defence equipment are still being serviced and repaired with the help of Ukraine. 

Ukraine exports to India over $2 billion worth of sunflower oil every year.  Ukraine is also providing education, mostly medical education, to nearly 11000 students from India.  As for Indian exports, pharmaceuticals are the main export products to that country. 

Ukraine also has a vibrant Indian Diaspora.  It is a beautiful country with nearly 42 million well educated citizens.

Which country did you most feel at home in so far?

- As I have said earlier, we have enjoyed each of our seven postings abroad.  Every place has given us opportunity to learn about its fascinating history, culture and language.  It is amazing to realise that we have commonalities in languages even though they seem to be far apart from each other from outside

What are the Business Opportunities for Indians in these two countries and how easier to do business over there?

- Both, Belarus as well as Ukraine, pharmaceuticals have been our major exports.  However, better facilities of the registration process of Indian pharmaceutical products in both these countries is required.  There has to be a way by which unscrupulous exporters from India are restricted to create a better image of Indian products in these two countries.  Tourism, as well as medical tourism, is an emerging sector for bilateral trade.  Yoga and Ayurveda need more promotion in these two countries where even though the population is well disposed towards Ayurveda, the Governments do not recognise it for medical practice.  There are other traditional items like tea, textile, etc.  One possible emerging area of trade could be in fresh fruit from both sides.

  • When India reaches a level of 77 in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking from a level of 142 within a span of two years, the world takes note of such developments.
  • Recent announcements, policy changes as well as programmes like Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Start Up India etc also attract the attention of the world. 
  • India also has earned a lot of respect in the international community as a country with wise counsel on issues of global nature. 
  • India has been able to project its policy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam as the bedrock of its foreign policy. 

In the last 5 years, India has certainly got a better image in the International communities. What are the most important factors and points of attraction towards India among the global community?

- The growth story of the Indian economy is known to the entire world by now. Our Missions/Embassies/High Commissions in various countries in the world for spreading the message that economic development in a country like India which has an unimaginable variety of diversity makes progress even more significant.  Being the world’s largest democracy, along with its social and economic diversity, India’s growth during the last 25 years is seen as an example for other countries to follow.  The whole world is watching India which holds nearly one-sixth of humanity. 

When India reaches a level of 77 in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking from a level of 142 within a span of two years, the world takes note of such developments. Recent announcements, policy changes as well as programmes like Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Start Up India etc also attract the attention of the world.  India also has earned a lot of respect in the international community as a country with wise counsel on issues of global nature.  India has been able to project its policy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam as the bedrock of its foreign policy.  When India takes a position on issues of global warming, carbon emission etc., the world realises that India speaks on behalf of a very large number of underdeveloped and developing countries.

What are the areas, in your views, India should focus upon in the coming years for better relationships with other countries?

- The first target for India is to enhance its economic growth.  There are still a large number of very poor people in India and a sustained economic growth of double digits over the next ten years is required to get free from the malice of poverty and underdevelopment.  With such economic growth, India will be in a better position to deliver assistance in more effective manner to countries which are behind us on the path of economic development.  India’s model of inclusive growth will then be extended to embrace other underdeveloped countries as well.  This will help in consolidating the respect that other countries have for us.

Do you think that there is an artist in you which makes you ease with your piano in your off - moods?

- Music has been a lifelong interest for me.  It helps in unwinding whenever I feel stressed in my daily routine.  I love old Indian songs with a classical touch. I feel fortunate to be able to play them on a keyboard whenever I feel like.

You are a student of Neterhat, Jharkhand. A message that you want to convey to the youths of India today?

- Whatever may be the level of development, in terms of modern gadgets or technology, a habit to read should be developed at an early stage in every child.  Even if we have google’s universal library at our fingertips, the youth today should learn to explore the knowledge which has come at their doorstep.  In my opinion, children should be given only three subjects for education till the time they are ten years old which should be mathematics, literature and social behaviour.  With these three basic skills, any subject can be mastered, whether it is architecture or finance or law or anthropology.  A sense of discipline and respect for seniors/elders makes us humane.  If we leave it, there is no difference between us and the animals. 

(This interview was first published in the English daily Morning India. The views expressed in this Interview are his personal.)

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