IIT alumnus earns laurels for boosting India-Vietnam trade

March 11th, 2009 - 11:39 am ICT by IANS  

By Sharat Pradhan
Lucknow, March 11 (IANS) Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur is widely renowned as a centre for excellence. And now one of its alumni has earned laurels for his “significant role” in enhancing India-Vietnam trade.

Shantanu Srivastava, 52, who passed out of IIT-Kanpur as a mechanical engineer in 1977, was recently conferred the title of “Friendship Order of Vietnam” by Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet.

That brings Srivastava in the league of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi - the only two other Indians who figure in the Vietnam government’s list of “best friends”.

His alma mater also decided to honour him for this unique distinction at a special function at IIT-Kanpur last week.

“It was a delightful moment for me to be included among the six who were conferred the ‘Distinguished Alumnus Award’ the other day,” Srivastava told IANS. Among the five other awardees was Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Duvvuri Subbarao, who passed out of the elite institution in 1973.

The citation by IIT describes Srivastava as the man who “helped the Embassy of India in setting up the office of Consulate General of India in Ho Chi Minh City. He mobilised the Indian business community and set up the Indian Business Chamber in Vietnam in 1998 of which he became founder- chairman”.

It goes on to add: “He played a significant role in raising the bilateral trade between India and Vietnam that he took to as much as $1.6 billion.”

Recalling his experiences in Vietnam, Srivastava said: “When I first landed on Vietnamese soil in 1982, it was a nation badly devastated by a prolonged war and needed to be literally rebuilt from scratch.”

Srivastava went as second attache to the Indian Embassy in Hanoi. He was hand-picked by the State Trading Corporation (STC) for this assignment for a period of just six months. But his skills and commitment to the task got him extension after extension for six long years.

“In 1989, when I was finally scheduled to return to India, I decided to try my luck at commodity trading, into which I took a plunge with a humble capital of just about 1,000 dollars,” he said.

“In two decades, this business witnessed phenomenal growth, touching more than 20 million dollars today,” he added.

“God was kind to me and my business grew by leaps and bounds. In the next few years, I established my own company Ishan International Pvt Ltd. which soon emerged as the main business bridge between India and Vietnam,” he said.

Over the years, Ishan International expended its activities into several other Asian countries including Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

His urge to return to his roots led him to set up base in Delhi where he has now established an NGO under the name of Ishan Foundation. But that is not without maintaining his ties with the country that propelled him to emerge as an entrepreneur of mettle.

“Yes, currently I am also in the process of setting up a Vietnam Business Centre in Delhi, from where I continue to oversee my business as well as my relationship with that country that gave me the passion to grow.”

(Sharat Pradhan can be contacted at sharat.p@ians.in)

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