A story of two countries
We arrived in Bahrain in 1982. Like many young couples we knew, our plan was to work and earn well for three years and return to India.
But then life happened. Two children and above all a country that has imposed itself on you with its relaxed lifestyle, its friendliness and a safe place to raise a family.
Before we know it, we have spent 40 years here and been part of the unfolding progress and prosperity of modern Bahrain, its ups and downs.
What has brought us closer to Bahrain is that we have grown up with a generation of fellow Bahrainis – professionals who have returned from specialized studies abroad as doctors, lawyers and engineers and have taken their place in the country’s DNA, graciously making space for their expatriate peers and helping to embed diversity and inclusiveness into Bahrain’s growth.
During this time, our relationship with India has developed in layers.
Living in the Gulf, we are just under four or five hours from the furthest Indian town and with many travel links, Gulf Indians often visit their home. Over 30% of India’s remittances are sent by Indians from the Gulf and they are fueling the progress of families and India’s vast network of MSMEs with wise investments.
Indian entrepreneurs have leveraged the benefits of business formation in the GCC and Indian companies employing more than 1,50,000 multinational employees like the RP Group founded by Dr. Ravi Pillai or more than 57,000 like the LuLu Group led by Yusuffali MA underpin the vast network of Indian companies, large and small, that criss-cross the GCC today.
The fact is, however, that even as India celebrates 75 years of independence (that’s tomorrow) and 50 years of warm contemporary diplomatic relations with Bahrain, we need to shout our credentials a little more. I remember an Indian diplomat telling me that the Bahrain-India relationship is like a comfortable marriage – there’s camaraderie, there’s support but the zing is intermittent.
I believe that an occasion like this 76th Independence Day and the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations is an ideal time for us ordinary Indians and Bahrainis to consider how we can play a more effective role in the beautiful synergy between the two country.
Sharing culture and cuisine comes naturally to us Indians, but we also need to understand that sharing is not a one-way street – or, for that matter, just a matter of hosting shows for ourselves. .
As a community, we need to try harder to learn more about Bahraini culture and welcome cultural icons from our host country into our circle. So many Indian clubs raise and spend money to bring Indian artists to Bahrain – their officials also boast of having influence in India. Why not organize a showcase of Bahraini artists in India then? There are so many Bahrainis who love Indian music and dance – so why is our Bahraini presence at such events limited to the main guest and VIP cohort?
Seventy-six and 50 are important milestones – they point to the past as much as the future. Recalibrate – the India and Bahrain of the beginning of this journey are very different and the sooner we amplify the new narratives, the stronger the understanding of the coming era will be.