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NRI Shashi Tharoor joins Dubai firm Promoting Foreign Investment in India
Friday, May 11, 2007

Shashi Tharoor has taken up a new appointment as the Chairman of Afras Ventures, a company based in Dubai in quest of investment opportunities primarily in Kerala. Tharoor’s assignment would bring him on long trips to India, but would not be re-locating to the country, retaining his status as an NRI.

Afras Ventures is founded by Nandakumar Radhakrishnan who has interests in developing his home state of Kerala. He roped in Shashi Tharoor as soon as the latter completed his assignment as Under Secretary General at the United Nations.

The company would be tapping for funds from across the globe and Tharoor is eager to be associated with the private sector for a public service endeavour like Afras.

Tharoor and Radhakrishnan have engaged in discussions with the Chief Minister of Kerala, state finance and education ministers and senior government bureaucrats on potential areas for investment.

Kerala’s growth rate lags way behind the national average of 9%, hovering around 1.54 since 2000, briefly touching 2.29% between 2003 to 2005.

Foreign direct investment has not met the national average either, totaling Rs.1,217 crore in 184 projects between 1999 to 2005, barely 1.26 % of all FDI approvals in India. Kerala is one of the least industrialized states but its citizens enjoy a high quality of life, banking on NRI remittances and tourism. Unemployment, industrial disputes, strikes and lockouts characterize the Kerala economy, and it is hoped that Afras Ventures would turn the fortunes of the state.

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