IBCL co-president Aditya Sharma has been involved with the IBCL since it launched in 2009, the same year he arrived in the grand duchy.
Photo: Maison Moderne
The Indian Business Chamber of Luxembourg celebrates its 10th anniversary this month. Delano caught up with co-president Aditya Sharma.
Aditya Sharma recalls attending the first event the IBCL held just after he arrived in Luxembourg in March 2009. He says the chamber's events have always been “unique, because there’s always a common interest to Luxembourg and to India, and we always try to mix speakers with at least one from [each of those countries].” Since its inception, the IBCL has been organising around six to eight events per year. Sharma, who is also the senior VP Asia at Boson Energy, a company developing tech for sustainable energy solutions, took on the role of co-president six months ago, joining Sudhir Kohli at the helm.
The IBCL has a 5-member-strong board, including the two co-presidents, plus a strategic advisory board comprised of 9 and led by Michel Wurth, who is also the ArcelorMittal Luxembourg chairman.
Over the years, the chamber has grown significantly, and its Diwali event is a good example of that. The first of their less formal events, Diwali started at smaller city venues but “the programme became quite successful over the years,” Sharma says, adding : “We grew up so much that there’s been no venue able to accommodate the guests, so we moved it to the Casino in Mondorf-les-Bains.”
Luxembourg-India business relations
At the end of 2018, the chamber’s highlight was a celebratory event to mark 70 years of Luxembourg-India relations.
“Luxembourg had the vision back then to extend their hand of friendship to a newly-independent country, which was coming out of its obscurity, and economically and socially quite behind at that point in time,” Sharma says.
There have been plenty of diplomatic visits between the two nations over the years, with Grand Duke Jean the first from Luxembourg to visit in 1983. According to the Embassy of Luxembourg in New Delhi, from 2010-2015 alone Luxembourg provided more than €6m to support NGO work in India through six framework conventions.
In February 2019, the IBCL took part in the Bengal Global Business Summit (in which Luxembourg was an official partner country), with representatives from Amer-Sil Ketex, Arendt & Medernach, Boson Energy, Ceratizit, Paul Wurth and Rotarex in attendance. The IBCL was also present at the Global Business Summit, presented by Yes Bank and The Economic Times and powered by Facebook, in New Delhi.
In 2016, deputy prime minister and ministry of the economy Etienne Schneider led a delegation to India. “He was really thrilled to see the traffic of Mumbai stopped for him,” Sharma recalls. “His way of interaction also made him quite popular…his love for India was so visual.”
"Make” is not a typo: the verb tense was an intentional move as part of the government’s campaign to encourage foreign investors and manufacturers to set up in India. Photo: Maison Moderne
According to Sharma, at one of the events, just before going on stage, Schneider noticed the “Make in India” badge he was wearing. Sharma jokes that people sometimes think “Make” is a typo, but that is not the case. Schneider asked to swap pins--the minister was wearing a pin with the Luxembourg and India flags--and so they did.
“It was a very high gesture on his part,” Sharma says, adding: “That showed his commitment to India is truly there.”
In 2019 and moving forward, Sharma says there will be an increased go-to-market focus, as well as establishing further links between Luxembourg and India.
The IBCL will host its official 10th anniversary event at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce on 21 March, focusing on scaling up India-Luxembourg (and EU) trade. To register for the event or to for more info, visit the IBCL website.