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Transcript of Special briefing by Secretary (CPV & OIA) on Vice President’s visit to Qatar (06-June-2022)

June 07, 2022

Ms. Navya Singla, Under Secretary (DD): Goodafternoon ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to this special briefing on the visit of the Vice President of India to Qatar. We have with us Secretary (CPV& OIA), Dr. Ausaf Sayeed Sir, who would be briefing us and giving us a sense of this ongoing last leg of the Vice President three-country visit. We also have the privilege of having on the dais with us Ambassador Deepak Mittal Sir and JS (Gulf) Vipul Sir, who would also fill in on the conversations here. I'll hand over the floor to Secretary Sir, for some opening remarks after which we will take some questions.

Ms. Navya Singla, Under Secretary (DD): Sir, the floor is yours Sir.

Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (CPV& OIA): Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this press briefing. As you're aware our Honourable Vice President of India Sri Venkaiah Naidu arrived in Doha on 4th June, on the third leg of his 3-nation tour, which also was to Senegal and Gabon. As you know, he is also accompanied by the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar and three Members of Parliament Shri Sushil Kumar Modi, Shri Vijay Pal Singh Tomar and Shri P. Ravindranathan. Honourable Vice President was received upon arrival by his Excellency Mr. Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, Minister of State for Foreign affairs, and he was accorded ceremonial welcome with a guard of honour upon arrival. Yesterday and today, he had various engagements with the Qatari dignitaries. We had issued a Press release yesterday.Let me now give you a full recount of his visit.

Yesterday, Honourable Vice President called on Father Amir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. He later met Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, His Excellency Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani at the Amiri Diwan. Minister of Public Health, His Excellency. Dr Hanan Mohammad Al Kuwari and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi were also present during the meeting along with other officials. Both sides positively assessed, the developments in bilateral relations and agreed to further strengthen their historic friendship in all areas. Honourable Vice President expressed his happiness at the first ever visit at the Vice President level from India to Qatar. Both sides, expressed satisfaction at the continued engagement at the highest levels between both countries since the landmark visit of Qatari Amir to India in 2015 which was also followed by the visit of Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to Qatar in 2016. Both the sides agreed that high-level engagement should be sustained, including through an early visit of Qatar's Amir to India. Both sides also look forward to the convening of the Joint Commission between the two sides at the level of foreign ministers later this year. Honourable Vice President reiterated the high importance attached by India, to close and friendly relations with Qatar and the commitment to deepen, our friendly, close and friendly relationship and multifaceted bilateral cooperation in trade, investment, energy, food security, defence, technology, culture, education, health, media, and people-to-people contacts. He thanked the Qatari leadership, for taking great care of the Indian Community. At the same time, he also raised certain social requirements of the Indian Community, Indian diaspora here.

On his part, His Highness Father Amir recalled his historic, recalled his numerous visits to India and the historic relations between both countries which are based on mutual trust and appre-ciated the contribution of Indian diaspora in Qatar for the development of Qatar.

An understanding has been reached to set up the ICCR Chair of Indian studies at the Qatar Uni-versity. ANI and Qatar News Agency have also agreed to enhance bilateral media Cooperation.During the meetings yesterday, both sides, expressed strong commitments to further enhance bilateral trade and investment cooperation. His Highness Father Amir asked Honourable Vice President about the sectors where further investments from Qatar to India could take place, Honourable Vice President in response invited the Qatari side to explore the opportunities, ex-isting in a range of sectors in India, including infrastructure connectivity, both physical and digital, energy, defence and hospitality. The Qatari side also invited Indian entities to look for opportunities in sectors, like education, pharmaceuticals, healthcare in Qatar. Both sides also discussed the impact of recent global developments and food and energy security. They renewed their long-term commitment to energy partnership. Honourable Vice President assured the Qatari leadership of India's assistance in meeting Qatar's food security requirements.

Yesterday, rather last evening Honourable Vice President addressed an India- Qatar business Forum, which was jointly organised by FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM and along with the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We are very happy that from the Qatari side, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammad bin Hamad Bin Qassim Al Abdullah Al Thani; Chairman of the QBA Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani and Chairman of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Jassim Bin Mohammad Al Thani and along with several other business people from both sides attended the event. A Startup Bridge was launched between India and Qatar by Honourable Vice President during the Forum. He invited the Qatari side to look for further investments in India. Keeping in view, the great transformation that is taking place in India in Indian economy, in different sectors. The Qatari businessman expressed their interest in increasing investments in India. As you may, be aware that currently the Qatar's FDI in India stands at around US dollar 450 million and both sides acknowledged that there is great potential to increase these investments in various areas in India. Invest India and the Invest Promotion Agency of Qatar are in talks and they've reached an understanding on cooperation to promote two-way investments between both countries. This morning Honourable Vice President visited the National Museum of Qatar and Qatar Foundation. At the national museum he was received by chairperson Her Excellency Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who is the sister of His Highness the Amir. He was pleased to experience the presentation of the cultural values of Qatar with modern aesthetics. He appreciated that the museum also displayed artifacts that highlighted the historical connect between India and Qatar. At the Qatar Foundation, the Vice President appreciated the inspiring vision of the Qatari leadership in transforming Qatar into a knowledge-based society through excellence in the fields of education, research, innovation and cultural development. He expressed confidence that Indian institutions and Qatar Foundation would work together on academic and scientific collaborations. The speaker of the Shura Council called on his Excellency Mr. Hassan bin Abdulla Al-Ghanim along with the delegation of members of the shura council called on Honourable Vice President this afternoon, they exchanged views on promoting parliamentary cooperation. Vice President congratulated the speaker for successful conduct of the first-ever elections of the Shura Council last year. He extended invitation to the Shura Council Speaker and members of the Qatar-Asia Parliamentary Friendship Group to visit India, you know, or whenever it is convenient mutually, convenient. The invitation has been accepted by the Chairman of the Shura council. Later this evening Honourable Vice President will attend an Indian Community reception, which is expected to be attended by around 1,000 members from different sections of the Indian Community including Pravasi Bhartiya Samman awardees, professionals, business people, workman fisherman and cultural and social organization representatives. The vibrant Indian Community in Qatar constitutes a living bridge between the two countries and have been celebrating 75 years of Independence, you know, participating in the 75 years Independence celebrations with great vigour.

Honourable Vice President would also be meeting select community representatives tomorrow morning before departing for India. This as you know, was the very first visit at the Vice President-level from India and this has enabled us to further consolidate the political contacts between the two sides and specially Qatar being a key partner in our energy partnership, which we want to convert from a buyer-seller relationship to a strategic comprehensive, strategic energy partnership.

And this visit of course comes also at a time when both countries are celebrating 50 years of formal diplomatic, establishment of formal diplomatic relationship. So this was in a nutshell, the overview of the last two days. I would be happy to take a few questions. If something you would like to ask.

Ms. Navya Singla, Under Secretary (DD): [00:09:03] Thank you, Sir. We can now take a couple of questions. Please introduce yourself and your agency for the records.

Ms. Aanchal Gulati, DD News: Sir i am Aanchal gulati from DD News. Sir hum jaante hai ki jis tarah se paanch dashko purana rishta hai bharat aur katar ka or khastor par jis tarah se kal start-up bridge launch kiya gaya hai to kis tarah se aage aane wale saalo mein jo tamam bade entrepreneurs hai ya uddami hai aur khaskar khastaur par dekha jaye kaun-kaun se vo kshetra aenge jahan par ye jo start-up bridge jo launch kiya gaya hai usmein hum aage kuchh dekh payenge . (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir, we know that there exists a five-decade-old relationship between India and Qatar and especially the way the start-up bridge has been launched yesterday, so how in the coming years, which all big entrepreneurs or industrialists and especially and which of the areas will come up in future where we will be able to see something moving ahead beyond this start-up bridge that has been launched?

Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (CPV& OIA):
Dekhiye jo start-up bridge launch hua usaka sidha ye hai ki ecosystem jo start-ups ka ecosystem India mein hai woh kafi developed ecosystem hai or aapne dekha ki 40 se jyada unicorn ek hi saal mein hue hai aur vise-president ne apne speech mein kaha ki 100 se jyada unicorn ki ummid hum kar sakte hai aage. To, jo IT sector hai, big data sector hai, digitalization sector hai chunki post covid bahut saare desh digitalization ki taraf ja rahe hai, to in tamam chizon mein jahan hamara bharat desh ka jo strength hai woh strength start-up bridge ke through abhi to shuruat hai India aur Qatar ke beech mein, usmein hum samajhte hai ki kafi scope hai or ye scope donon taraf, donon desh ke jo businessman hai unke liye useful sabit hoga khaskar ke IT sector mein advance IT sector mein. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) The start-up bridge that was launched is that the ecosystem of start-ups that is in India is a very developed ecosystem and you have seen that more than 40 unicorns have come up in a single year and the Vice President said in his speech that we can expect more than 100 unicorns. So, it is the IT sector, the big data sector, the digitization sector, because post-covid we are moving towards digitalization, so in all these things where the strength of our country of India is going towards digitalization, then in all these things where the strength of our country of India is just beginning through the start-up bridge, between India and Qatar, in that we understand that there is a lot of scope and this scope is on both sides. The businessmen of both the countries will prove to be useful for them, especially in the IT sector.

Ms. Aanchal Gulati, DD News: Sir ek cheez or main janana chahti hoon ki jo public-private partnership model hai kya hum usmein bhi focus rakhenge kyokin lagatar ye ummid kiya gaya khastaur par jab hum research & development ki baat karte hai to public-private models are always in success. (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir, one thing and I want to know whether we will focus on the public-private partnership model because it is constantly expected, especially when we talk about research and development, then public-private models are successful.

Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (CPV& OIA): You are correct. In any case the times demand, that there is a public partnership because while the Government can give incentives to a particular sector to encourage that sector to grow up. If you see in the 80s, we had given, the government had given focus to the IT sector and that led to the booming of the IT sector and the spread throughout the world. So now with changes in time, we are looking at the niche areas within the overall IT sector and start-up through the Start-up India and through other things. This is a sector where we feel that with little, you know, incentive given to the private sector, there could always be a good public-private partnership as you saw the delegation yesterday. You know, big delegation from India, equally big response from the Qatari side. And during my informal interaction with the business people on both sides, they are very excited about the Start-up Bridge and they feel that this could lead to greater innovations. In many countries in the Gulf, they are giving lot of incentives themselves, you know- For they want high technology, innovations to take place in their own countries and for them, India is a very trusted partner and they know the competence of the Indian companies in our areas. And this is one such area which has been identified to give a thrust to our overall economic engagement and scientific engagement with Qatar.

Mr.Vikram Singh, Sansad TV: Sir mein Vikram Singh Sansad TV se, aapne kaha ki uparashtrapati ne katar mein rah rahe bharatiyon ka khyal rakhne ke liye dhanyavaad diya sath hi unhonne kuchh concern bhi rakhen jo bharatiyon ki chintaen hai, unke baarein mein bhi avagat karaya qatar sarkar ko | toh, woh kiss tarah ki chintaen hai aur kya woh trade se judi hui hai ya welfare se judi hui hai kiss tarah ki chintaen hai or un chintaon ko lekar donon taraf ki sarkare kiss tarah se kaam kar rahi hai ? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) Sir I am Vikram Singh from Sansad TV, you said that the Vice President thanked for taking care of the Indians living in Qatar and also he also took up some concern of the Indians, he also informed about them to the Government of Qatar. So, what kind of concerns are they and whether it is related to trade or welfare, what kind of concerns are there and how are the governments on both sides working on those concerns?

Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (CPV& OIA): Dekhiye ek toh Indian diaspora hai yahan sabse bada diaspora hai toh ek toh jha jha post-covid mein katri hukumat ne ek to free vaccination diya aur jo koi bhi Covid se affected ho gaye to unka bhi muft mein ilaj kiya to ye sab chizen. dusri taraf jo abhi katar ne new labour law they have launch a new labour law -k tahat- us labour law mein kaafi improvements aayi hai kyokin ek worker kisi bhi company ko bagair sponsor ke ijaazat k chhod sakta hai agar chahe to aur you know jo bahut saare group system tha, jo kafala system tha to ye sab system mein kafi change layen ja rahe hain. To in sabko uparashtrapati ji ne kafi appreciate kiya hai aur basically jo travel related restriction jo abhi layi gayi hai, specially income related restriction to un pe unhone you know thoda highlight kiya ki ye cheese hain aur dusre jo basically aur jo transparency jo laane ki baat chal rahi thi workers k recruitment mein woh bhi chal rahi hai. Iss ko aapko background ke taur pe ye batana chahta hoon ki pichle mahine ek joint working group hua tha Delhi mein jahan se yahaan ke Assistant Vice Minister of Manpower ayen the vahan hamare Joint Secretary hai unhonne discussion key, usmen kai saari cheese, kai mudde rakhe gaye . Ek mudda ye bhi rakha gaya ki jo hamara e-migration system hai use Qatar ke migration system se joda jaye | isase ye hoga ki transparency aayegi aur jo workers ke favour mein jo chizen hongi ki unka recruitment transparent tarike se hoga or similarly yahan per jo employer rahengi to unko bhi pata chalega ki jo aadmi, jo workers aa raha hai woh exactly vahi qualification lekar, vahi tajurba lekar ke aa raha hai jo woh chahte hai. To, in chizon mein in tamam tarah ki chizon par batchit hui. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) Look, there is an Indian diaspora, here is the largest diaspora, so one post-Covid, the Qatari order gave free vaccination and whoever was affected by Covid, then they also treated them for free, then all these things. On the other hand, Qatar has just launched a new labour law, they have launched a new labour law, there have been a lot of improvements in that labour law because a worker can leave any company without permission without sponsor, if you want and you know which was a lot of group system, which was a kafaala system, then all these are bringing a lot of changes in the system. So all of these have been greatly appreciated by the Vice President and basically travel related restriction which has been brought in now, especially the income related restriction, then on them he highlighted that these things are basically and the other things that were basically and the transparency that was going on to bring in the recruitment of workers is also going on|. I want to tell you this as a background that last month there was a Joint Working Group in Delhi, where the Assistant Vice Minister of Manpower from Qatar came, here we have a Joint Secretary, discussed, a lot of things, many issues were placed in it. One of the issues that was made was that our e-migration system should be linked to the migration system of Qatar. Transparency will come and will be in favour of the workers - that their recruitment will be done in a transparent manner, and if the employers stay here will also know that the man who is coming to the workers, is coming with exactly the same qualification, with the same experience as they want| So, all these kinds of things were discussed.

Mr.Sushil Batra, ANI: Myself is Sushil Batra from ANI. Sir how do you see the recent controversy which had- yesterday where Qatari authorities had summoned our Ambassador over BJP leaders remarks. How do you see this?

Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (CPV& OIA): This has already been published in today's newspa-pers. There is nothing new to add. We have our ambassador has already conveyed, what was to have been conveyed. So I don't think there is anything new that has to be added. You have already read, both the responses. So I think let us rest it at that.

Mr.Sushil Batra, ANI: Another question is Sir. As Qatar going to hold a FIFA World Cup in this year. Has they sought any type of help from India, in any manner?

Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (CPV& OIA): See the FIFA offers a lot of opportunities when you talked about public-private thing. This is again an area, which offers a lot of opportunities for our companies, you know, whether in terms of, you know, hospitality, whether in terms of infrastructure, and we have experience in organizing many sporting events so that has been there but formally government-to-government. I don't think there is anything which has been sought unless the Ambassador. Is there, any formal government-to-government? There has not been any formal government-to-government, but I think a lot of Indian companies who have various types of technologies to offer our upbeat about this opportunities and Qatar as a center, which is offering these opportunities at a global level.

Ms. Navya Singla, Under Secretary (DD): Do we have more questions?

Ms.Deepali, Sansad Television: My name is Deepali from Sansad television. So as we know a lot of Indian people are, you know, contributing to the growth of Qatar, basically. So what are some untapped areas in India, for example, which you know, Qatari people can help or, you know- invest Sir?

Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (CPV& OIA): So yeah. Okay. I know as I said in the beginning, the FDI of Qatar in India is to the tune of 450 million, which was last year and we feel that there is a great potential to increase Qatar's investment in India and in various sectors, and of course, you know that the existing investments of Qatar are in, you know, diverse areas like some startups, like Byju’s or in electrical fields, like Adani electrics and so on and so forth. Since the Qatar sovereign fund has been investing in different places and there has been in discussions in the past with the private and public sectors. There has been an inclination that the current quantum of investment, we agree, you know, increased to about 2 billion dollars. There has been a Joint Task Force also set up between the two sides to kind of explore these opportunities. We are linking the Qatar Invest with India Invest so that together they would identify the areas of mutual interest and then explore the possibility. We definitely we feel that there is a tremendous scope, the given the kind of appetite for investment. The investment was one of the, you know, key topics of discussions of Honourable Vice President. Both with the Father Amir as well as with the Prime Minister and the delegation level talks as well as I think between the business fraternity. So, in times to come, you will see, you know, many newer sectors added to it.

Ms. Aanchal Gulati, DD News: Sir, one more question. So, when we talk about people-to-people connect, but we have seen that the visit has seen Indian diaspora welcoming VP in a very, I should say, encouraging manner. So, how are we looking at the people to people con-nect, especially in the way Qatar, how we can increase it in the coming years?

Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (CPV& OIA): See, not only for Qatar, but for the entire GCC India's relationship has been hinged on people-to-people contacts and one is the proximity of the, you know, the country's itself and then it all hinges also on the traditional trade, which used to take place between both the sides. As some of you were covering the VP's visit and following him. If you had seen in the Qatar National Museum, even the museum is a reflection of the age-old connect, which has been there, you know, through the various organizations, which are operating here. The Indian Culture Centre, the kinds of the cultural engagement at the government level, which has been there. India has been declared as a partner country, you know, for the Qatari celebrations. In fact, we are focusing on three C's when you talked about culture. Basically Culture, Cuisine and Cinema, Indian Cinema is very popular here in all this part. Qatari side is also encouraging, there is also a kind of attachment. Because at even at senior levels, they talked about every Friday the family seeing the movies and they would like, more Bollywood shows to take place, Bollywood shootings to take place. So there are opportunities for that. Besides that, of course, we are also looking at educational collaboration between India and Qatar. There are already a few institutions of Higher Learning are interested in looking at this area. We have our University from Pune which has already started. So, you know, these are some of the, you know, areas of interest as you may be knowing that we do have around 51,000 school students here and then for them apart from, of course, what is already available in Qatar, in terms of Qatar Foundation institutions. They are also looking at the opportunities for Indian institutions to be there. So culture and education would be also about areas of focus for us.

Ms. Navya Singla, Under Secretary (DD): [00:21:28] Thank you, Sir. Thank you. Everyone. That brings us to the close of this briefing. Secretary Sir, that was most useful, giving us a brief overview of the first-ever Vice-Presidential level visit to Qatar. Thank you, Ambassador, Sir. Thank you, JS Sir, for joining us for the briefing. Our friends from the media. I'd like to invite you to join us for the cultural program on the occasion of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. I’ll see you there. Thank you so much. Thank you.

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