What is the reason for this grand reception, befitting a Head of State, for a Chief Minister from just one state of India?
Many people in Bahrain had this question on their minds last week.
But, the answer is simple.
“It is because 20 per cent of Bahrain’s population comprises people from this one state of India,” according to HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander, First Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Economic Development Board.
It was, in fact, on HRH the Crown Prince’s invitation that Pinarayi Vijayan, the Chief Minister of the Kerala State of India visited Bahrain.
And as the Crown Prince says, Keralites make up the majority, among the working population, not only here in Bahrain, but also in all the GCC countries.
The Chief Minister, therefore, had had a very busy schedule, topmost among them being his audiences with His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa , the Prime Minister HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and HRH the Crown Prince .
I was privileged to be at all the three audiences, and found that their discussions were very fruitful.
With all the three leaders talking about the long-standing relations between Bahrain and India, and the Kerala State in particular, expressing their appreciation for the hard work and loyalty of the Malayalee community for generations, and stressing on their beliefs that the relationship will strengthen further, it was clearly a valuable trip.
The Chief Minister also extended an invitation to all the three leaders to visit Kerala.
The welcome accorded to Kerala’s Chief Minister and the discussions he had had here with Indian and Bahraini business communities, I believe, are ushering in a new era. An era of rejuvenation of the age-old ties Bahrain has had, with India, and specifically, with its State of Kerala.
During his three-day visit, the Chief Minister also found time to inaugurate the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam.
It was by the dynamic initiative of Shaikh Khalifa bin Daij Al-Khalifa, President of HRH the Crown Prince’s Court that this special visit came to fruition.
It is pertinent, I feel, to mention that just a few months ago, Shaikh Khalifa bin Daij had received a special award “The Bahrain-Kerala Friendship Award” from the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan when Shaikh Khalifa visited Kerala for the Bahrain-Kerala Friendship Summit 2016.
The summit had marked the silver jubilee celebrations of Bahrain Returnees’ and Residents’ Association (BRAIN) held at Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala State.
Shaikh Khalifa bin Daij Al Khalifa, who received BRAIN’s first award, then extended an invitation from HRH the Crown Prince to the Chief Minister to visit Bahrain.
And I am confident that this association is, arguably, the only organisation formed by people who returned to India from any foreign country. And we must make a special note of the fact that it was formed 25 years ago!
Such is the love of Keralite community for this beautiful Kingdom of Bahrain!
One of the highlights of the Chief Minister’s visit was the ‘Bahrain-Kerala Business Investment Forum’ held at the Four Season’s Hotel .
Organised by the Bahrain Economic Development Board, this forum had given a unique opportunity for investors of India and Bahrain to discuss bilateral business concerns.
The highlight of the forum was a panel discussion, with Bahraini and Indian business leaders. With the panellists comprising frontrunners from Bahrain who invested in India, and vice versa, it turned out to be a very fruitful interaction.
But, most importantly, when the Chief Minister invited the investors to participate in the fulfilment of ‘Nava Kerala Mission’ for a new Kerala, there was genuine interest expressed by the investors attending the meet.
This, I think, should remain the main focus – if Kerala wants funding from Non Resident Indians, and from Foreign Investors.
It will secure along with it, warm and cordial relations with a country that is poised to become a power house in business. The Business Friendly Bahrain.