“Was honoured when invited to PM Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in 2019”
Drs Rajindre (Ryan) Tewari speaks to India Empire Magazine on his connection with India, the land from where his forefathers emigrated to Dutch Guiana (modern-day Suriname) where he was born and his settling down in Holland. His business connections with India have strengthened over the years
My wife’s grandmother was born in Lucknow and exerted her influence in her family a lot making it very strongly attached to India. So in short, my attachment with India was family, culture and later business: that is why I combined my personal love for the country with my quest for business opportunities and being active in all kinds of ways in business advocacy to strengthen relationships between the Netherlands and India. And, of course, whenever I can be of service to the Republic of Suriname I will always support being a descendant of migrants that once left India and worked in Suriname!
How long have you been associated with GOPIO and what is your vision when you work with it, especially within the very strong Indo-Surinamese community in the Netherlands?
I joined GOPIO by accident when I met the former Chairman & President, the late Inder Singh, a very respected person who convinced me that I should follow up on my grandparents seva contributions to their community the way I think suits me: I choose not for organizing parties but invite people to listen to the Indian economy, the culture, developments in foreign investment, medical tourism, and lectures on latest developments in India. After a few years of sessions on many themes related to India and the Diaspora we mobilized especially PIOs that mastered the Dutch language and networks, and became interested in the relationship with other parts of the India Diaspora, and also with India. They became more engaged with the Indian mission instead of the Suriname embassy only. We facilitated many contacts and associations without asking for credit, we cooperated with pleasure with other associations even when they saw us as organizational competitors, and also made sure students or anyone interested to engage with India could use our networks! We are proud to have achieved this in the Netherlands but also thanks to the support of the Indian Embassy, the Indian Governmental Institutions and Dutch Ministerial officials. In the meantime I moved from being Country President, to the European coordinator followed by several roles in the Executive council of GOPIO International, and currently chairman of GOPIO’s International Cultural Council. Still I am active in Holland and focus on establishing a new professional leadership team to head GOPIO Netherlands and my European GOPIO friends for the future.