Taking a cue from Bangalore, Latin American nation Peru is cashing in on the call centre wave. In a chat with Sunday Times of India, Javier Paulinich, Peruvian ambassador to India, spells out plans to further relations between the two nations. Excerpts:
Q: What is Peru’s report card thus far?
A: Peru is the fastest-growing Latin American nation in the past 10 years. Last year, we had a growth rate of 8.8%, with an average inflation rate of 2.5%. We are growing steadily and have a lot to offer India.
Q: Why have you chosen Bangalore to set up the honorary consul office?
A: We are the first Latin American country to set up an honorary consul in Bangalore. This is because we see immense learning opportunities in Karnataka. Bangalore is an Information Technology (IT) hub of India. We want to take the technological know-how from here and implement it back home. We need IT companies in Peru, and Bangalore is swamped with them. We want to export IT services to Peru. We want to set up IT call centres for Indian IT companies in the state. What Bangalore is to India, so is Arequipa to Peru. We want to link these two so they become twin-cities for IT, where there will be an exchange of information and knowledge.
Q: What else do you find attractive about Karnataka?
A: Karnataka is a mining state. This is important for Peru because we want to invite investors from the state to explore mining in our nation. Peru is the number one exporter of silver in Latin America and the Caribbean nations. There are immense mining possibilities in Peru for India to cash in on. After Venezuela, we are the second largest exporter of oil and natural gas. Reliance India Ltd and Jindal Steel group already have their presence in our country. We are looking for more Indian companies to tap this market too.
We already have a free trade agreement with the US, UK, EU, Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Latin American countries. The only one missing is India. We are keen to push the free trade agreement between our two countries as well. We will start negotiations in early 2012.
Q: How do you plan to further Peruvian culture here?
A: At the Bangalore International Arts Fest held every year, we plan to start showcasing our music, dance and theatre. Peruvians are very much in tune with Indian culture, and of course, Bollywood. My son Branko is learning the sitar in New Delhi, from a guru who is originally from Bangalore. So, we know about India, but not vice-versa. We also plan to make the Honorary Consulate in Koramangala a hub for people and especially youth, where they can learn about our language and culture. They can come in and just hang out, read up about us and learn Spanish from teachers from Peru. At the end of the course, students will get a certificate ratified by the Peruvian consulate.
Q: Any plans to start student exchange programmes?
A: We are already in talks with many universities in South India. We plan to sign MoUs between universities here and the University of Peru for exchange programmes in forestry, IT, business studies and mining. We have commenced talks. Governor of Karnataka HR Bhardwaj has extended his support to broadbase education tie-ups.
Q: How many Peruvians visit India?
A: The number of Peruvians visiting India is just 300 a year, as compared to 5,000 Indians visiting Peru. Many Indian visitors to Peru mainly visit Machu Pichu. Business-wise too, we get around 2,500 Indians making trips to Peru and growing steadily.
Q: What are the consulate’s plans to help Peruvian visitors learn about India?
A: We want to help ease them into the Indian milieu slowly and steadily. It would really help if we can get them safe and clean places with basic amenities, where they can stay for six months. It will help with migration.