FIELD NOTES: Welcome to Portugal
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.
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.