Envoy lauded for boosting Indian-Latin American ties
New Delhi: The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) calls him "Mr. Latin America". And in Latin America, Rengaraj Viswanathan, India's ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, is hailed for boosting business ties with India.
Widely praised for his efforts, what is unique about Viswanathan - according to corporates and others in that region - is his "passion" for Latin America.
Despite a hectic schedule, not only does he share his knowledge and passion about the region through a website (www.BusinessWithLatinAmerica.com) and two blogs, but his email signature also says "passionate about Latin America".
Gabriel Rozman, executive vice president of emerging markets for Tata Consulting Services, said: "Representing an Indian company has been much easier since the ambassador arrived as he has educated the people in the Southern Cone about the advantages of doing business with India.
"I think the ambassador is unique, for his passion and love of this part of the world. He truly enjoys talking to local people and assisting these countries to prosper," Rozman, who has dealt with many Indian ambassadors in Latin America, told Latin Business Chronicle published from Miami.
Thanks to Viswanathan's efforts, Indian companies and executives are now familiar not only with the big business centres of Sao Paulo and Mexico City, they have ventured even to less familiar countries like Bolivia and Nicaragua, Rozman further said.
Apart from his current post - held since October 2007 - Viswanathan has served as India's ambassador to Venezuela (2000-03), consul general in Sao Paulo in Brazil (1996-2000) and as head of the Latin America division at India's foreign ministry (2004-07).
The results of Viswanathan's efforts are clear. Indian business with Latin America has taken off dramatically. Last year, Indian trade with Latin America jumped by 45.5 percent to 16 billion dollars, the Chronicle said.
Meanwhile, Indian companies have invested 9 billion dollars in Latin America in pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, IT, steel, mining and other areas.
Talking about his fondness for the Latin American way of life, Viswanathan was quoted as telling the paper: "I like the Latinos who have mastered the art of enjoying life. This is attractive for Indians who have been brought up in the Indian tradition of karma, sacrifice and simple living and high thinking and the advice to endure suffering for a better reincarnation."