Indians living in Kuwait has maintained a lifestyle, close to their motherland
By Vibheesh Tikkodi
India and Kuwait enjoy traditionally friendly relations, rooted in history and have stood the test of time. Geographic proximity, historical trade links, cultural affinities and presence of large number of Indian nationals in Kuwait continue to sustain and nurture this long-standing relationship. India has been a natural trading partner of Kuwait and until 1961 Indian Rupee was the legal tender in Kuwait. Till the discovery and development of oil, Kuwait’s economy revolved around its fine harbor and maritime activities which included ship building, pearl diving, fishing and voyages to India on wooden dhows carrying dates, Arabian horses and pearls that were traded for wood, cereals, clothes and spices.
Kuwait hasan estimated crude oil reserves of 102 billion barrels or about 6% of world reserves. Oil revenues constitute the main source of income and amount to approximately 90% of the state’s revenues
India’s trade with Kuwait
India has consistently been among the top ten trading partners of Kuwait. The presence of about 9 lakh Indian community members in Kuwait (the largest expatriate community in Kuwait) form an important dimension of our bilateral ties with oil-rich Kuwait. They are present in all segments of society in Kuwait and are considered largely as disciplined, hard working, and law-abiding. The total remittance from Kuwait to India is estimated at US $ 4.8 billion annually. India’s exports to Kuwait in the last five years are over US$1 billion. During 2014-15, major items exported from India to Kuwait covered a broad range including food items, cereals, textiles, garments, electrical and engineering equipment, pressure vessel reactors, industrial valves, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances, cars, trucks, buses, tyres, chemicals, jewellery, handicrafts, metal products, iron and steel, etc. India imports crude oil in the tune of USD 4.05 Billion.
Indian Investments in Kuwait
Indian public and private sector companies in the finance and insurance sector which have investments in Kuwait are – LIC (International), LIC Housing Finance, New India Assurance, Oriental Insurance Company, HDFC Ltd. These companies are present in Kuwait for many years. They have their offices in Kuwait, in association with local sponsors, as per prevailing regulations.
Presence of Indian Corporate Sector in Kuwait
Major Indian commercial activities in Kuwait include those by L&T, ShapoorjiPallonji, Dodsal, Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd, TERI, Essar Projects, Simplex Projects, Bridge & Roof, Tata Consultancy Service (TCS), WIPRO, Tech Mahindra and Infosys. Many Indian banks have agreements with major Exchange Houses in Kuwait to facilitate remittances into India. The following Indian companies have a presence in Kuwait:
Business activities of Indian Community in Kuwait
The Indian community with strength of about 9 lakh is the largest expatriate community in Kuwait and is regarded as the community of first preference among the expatriate communities. Professionals like engineers, doctors, chartered accountants, scientists, software experts, management consultants, architects; technicians and nurses; retail traders and businessmen are present in Kuwait, though a large proportion consists of unskilled and semi-skilled workers.
The Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC) an association of about 148 businesspersons in Kuwait who are actively involved in promoting India-Kuwait business relations.
Presence of NRI owned retail outlets like Lu&Lu, Gulf Mart, City Centre and Centre Point, as well as large NRI owned distributor companies have contributed to a growing range of Indian products in Kuwait and has helped meet the requirements of the large Indian community in Kuwait.
There is interest in Indian Culture and there have been regular exchanges in these fields. The Embassy hosts regular programmes at its premises. The expatriate community also contributes in a large way by having dance and music classes. They also organize yoga classes. The Embassy organized the 14th PravasiBhartiya Divas on 9 January 2016 in its premises. The 2nd International Yoga Day was celebrated in the Embassy on 24 June 2016. A 4-member delegation from Kuwait attended the two day ‘International Conference on Yoga for Body and Beyond’ organized by the Ministry of AYUSH from 22-23 June 2016 at New Delhi.
The Indian community in Kuwait continues to grow at 5-6% per annum. Our community remains the most preferred community in Kuwait, the second biggest expatriate community being the Egyptians.
With over 200 association registered with the Indian Embassy, the Indian expatriates indulge itself in many activates for the improvement of community living. Many associations hold various programmes and camps in Kuwait. Socio-cultural associations like SevaDarshan, AMMA Kuwait, Art of Living promote the values of Indian cultural and traditions in Kuwait. We also have associations like SamskrthaBharati and KALA which actively promote language speaking for the young and elders alike. Other associations promote art, drama and music. Doctors and Engineers also have their own associations that hold free camps for the community members in the lower income levels.
Indians living in Kuwait has maintained a lifestyle that is close to their motherland and have ensured that the coming generations don’t lose touch with their Indian roots. Their life and social commitment is an example to lead by for all communities. They continue to be the true ambassadors of our Nation in Kuwait.
[Vibheesh Tikkodi is originally from Kozhikode, Kerala. He is a Finance executive, writer, orator, social worker and a philanthropist. He works with various organizations in Kuwait including:
Editor Sopnanam E Magazine, Member Science International Forum Kuwait Advisory Council, Member of Malayalam Writers Forum Kuwait, Secretary Sevadarshan Kuwait , Kuwait Chapter President Global Thikkodians Fourm, Organizer of Yogathon – (International Yoga Day Public Awareness program in Kuwait) ]