People-to-People relationship fosters engagement with India

People-to-People relationship fosters engagement with India

Labour MP finds new potential in Telangana

Priyanca Radhakrishnan

Happy New Year- from India!

Although I am here on holiday, I have been reflecting on the relationship between India and New Zealand and the potential that remains to be realised.

Our government is stepping up efforts to bring India and New Zealand closer together as partners.

As part of that, we are investing in the political relationship with India.

Those of us who are familiar with Asia know that personal connections play a crucial role in business culture in this part of the world – perhaps more so than in the Western world.

An introduction from a mutual contact goes a long way in establishing trust and opening doors.

Our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Foreign Minister Winston Peters met their Indian counterparts last year (in New York and Bangkok, respectively) and our Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor visited India in November.

The economic relationship between the two countries is good, especially with respect to education and tourism – but it could be much better.

Engagement in Hyderabad

I was recently in Hyderabad – the capital city of India’s newest state, Telangana.

I was there for a little getaway with my family.

The last time I had visited Hyderabad was over 20 years ago and I wanted to learn a little more of the city’s socio-political history and various cultural influences and sample Hyderabadi cuisine and contribute to their economy by doing a little shopping.

I did all of that.

I also managed to fit in a couple of meetings, thanks to the efforts of members of our Telangana community (Vijay Kosna and Kalyan Rao Kasuganti) in Auckland.

When they learnt that I was visiting Hyderabad, they requested that I meet with a few State Ministers. I agreed to two meetings – I was only there for two full days and wanted to make sure that I maximised time with family as well. Within a very short period of time, the meetings were organised and arrangements made.

Start-ups and Global markets

I met with Information Technology, Electronics and Communications Minister Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao (KTR) and Agriculture, Cooperation and Marketing Minister Singireddy Niranjan Reddy.

Both sectors play a significant role in the state’s economy. Hyderabad is a hub for IT and pharmaceutical companies.

KTR is focused on supporting start-ups and connecting them with global market opportunities. He was interested in the start-up landscape in New Zealand.

The Telangana government recently-passed legislation that will establish a venture capital fund to support companies that expand beyond the initial start-up phase.

Agriculture remains a key driver of growth and poverty reduction in the Indian economy, with the sector providing jobs for about half of India’s workforce.

Increasing incomes and lifting people out of poverty are priorities for the current Government.

This holds true for states like Telangana as well.

New Zealand technology

New Zealand is well placed to contribute to the government’s objective to grow farmers’ incomes, improve agricultural efficiency through improved technologies and crop storage, including cold storage. There is potential to cooperate more closely in these areas – as we do in other parts of India. For example, the Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Development Project, funded by the World Bank and using New Zealand expertise focusing on apple production, is a good example of cooperation.

The meetings in Hyderabad were interesting and covered by virtually every newspaper in Hyderabad (both Telugu and English) and was on the local television news.

Being Indian, I had an idea of how things work in India.

However, this experience taught me a lot more about how things work in India and I saw first-hand, the power of personal connections.

The learning exercise

There were other learnings too. My meeting with KTR was different in tone to the meeting with Mr Reddy. Perhaps there is a generational difference when it comes to interactions – whether political or business.

Business culture in India has a reputation for formality and a need for deference – one was often told to keep humour out of it.

However, things are changing and this experience was a clear indication of the need to leave one’s assumptions at the door.

The potential to boost trade and economic cooperation between India and New Zealand is significant. While our two countries have a warm relationship, there’s so much more that can be done to strengthen it further.

I believe that our Kiwi Indian community is key to growing that relationship.

We are almost 4% of New Zealand’s population. We hold the knowledge, skills and personal connections that are key to growing the relationship that will pave the way for greater economic cooperation.

I have always said that New Zealand is strong because of our diversity, not in spite of it and this is why our people hold the key to our collective success.

I am immensely grateful to our Telangana community.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan is a Member of Parliament on Labour List and Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ethnic Affairs Minister. Please read related report under Homelink. Additional Reading: Telangana keen on multiple engagements with New Zealand on Page 3.


Photo Caption:

  1. Labour MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan with Telangana Information Technology, Electronics and Communications Minister Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao (KTR) in Hyderabad on January 8, 2020
  2. The Green Challenge: Labour MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan with Agriculture, Cooperation and Marketing Minister Singireddy Niranjan Reddy in Hyderabad on January 9, 2020. The Plan is to invite three persons to accept the challenge and ask each of them to challenge three others.

(Pictures Supplied)

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