FIELD NOTES WITH RAJAN

Welcome to our voyage of worldwide  Indian self and economic discovery. This  time landing our suitcase in the country of  legendary sports stars and the OCI card  that propelled the first European PM to  the diaspora Hall of Fame courtesy of PM  Modi’s efforts. Welcome to Portugal, a  country that boasts over 70,000 people of  Indian origin, plays host to the world  famous start-up culture and in my opinion one of the best and proactive Indian  Embassies I have seen so far (yes really). In this  journey series you will find a stronger understanding of the Portugal–India  opportunities and the real relations. I also had the opportunity of covering extraordinary  human impact stories from our diaspora  living there, including the remarkable journey of Adinda, whose own experience of searching for her birth parents will send warm shivers down anyone’s spine!  We received deeper insights from local experts and trusted service providers that can help  you go international and of course…. courtesy of Martinhal Resorts your chance of winning a luxury 4 night stay in  the beating heart of Lisbon.

Quick overview:  The revival of Portugal and our Diaspora:  Portugal as human interest stories go, is  frustratingly addictive. On one hand you  have an economy that was in desperate  need to be revolutionised due to the  recent financial crisis (2010-14) and on  the other, you have a Socialist Government  that looks to practise our Indian  values of a liberal, fair and just society in  order to put everyday citizens at the heart  of the equation. And although for most  this would seemingly be contradictory, the  country made it work to the best of its  ability. It created opportunities for entire  communities to be part of the eco space  and has utilised its ingenuity to make the  most of what it has, including strengthening  access with the EU to benefit from  over €20 billion in funds. It is also home  to an incredible community of Global  Indians who have arrived from every walk  of life. From big businesses looking for  additional European coverage, ambitious  start-up entrepreneurs, through to those  searching for family safety on the back of  the rising right wing movements across  Europe. Within this mix, you will find  those arriving/arrived from Mozambique,  Angola, Hong Kong, Europe, India and  even Singapore to name a few. Lisbon  seems to be the place for the “American  Dream” for the Global Indian community  and with English being commonly spoken,  300+ days of sunshine, a defined family  orientated culture and open society, it’s not  hard to see why.

Future Progress:

 However it’s not all utopian. There are painstaking experiences of added “red tape”, it’s a country where your patience in business and dealings with the government will be tried, tested and will often feel like blunt force trauma to your inner-zen. In my opinion its also a place where business chambers that are Indian associated- feel more like cleverley marketed calling card titles than anything that truly makes an attempt to assist and facilitate trade.

  But what these chambers ineffectively do, certain key private sector players makes up for, many of which are featured on this platform.

We also have to give credit where credit is due; in my mind it is down to the incredible commitment from the current team at the Indian Embassy in Lisbon and the tremendous work of Ambassador Nandini Singla that Portugal has been able to strengthen its position with India. Prior to her and the genuine efforts of PM Modi, little in real practical meaningful exchanges took place. One would hope that Portugal will keep up its momentum with India and that the impetus will not fall on India to make the relationship work meaningfully. Real investments need to be made to maximise on the Bilateral in place and for tourism, real estate and action planning for Lusophone Africa, Portugal can be a solid proposition. It just feels that the Government officials that I met in Portugal are lethargic to say the least when looking to actively court the powerhouse that is India and its highly influential diaspora.

Welcome to Portugal, a  country that boasts over 70,000 people of  Indian origin, plays host to the world  famous start-up culture and in my opinion,  one of the best and proactive Indian  Embassies I have seen so far.” 

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