Bolstering Ties

by BTM

Wed, 09 August 2023

P.S. Balasubramanyam

P.S. Balasubramanyam (known as Balu) has been instrumental in strengthening the bond between India and Bahrain. Kristian Harrison sat down with him to find out more about his role as a founding member and pioneer of the Bahrain India Society (BIS), and its role in bolstering ties between the two friendly nations.

The BIS was established in 2008 as a non-profit organisation with the main objective of bringing closer ties of friendship and understanding between the peoples of Bahrain and India. 

It was founded by HE Abdulnabi Al Sho’ala and is presently chaired by Abdulrahman Juma. HE Piyush Srivastava, the former Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Bahrain, serves as patron.

“I am very proud to have been associated with BIS since its inception,” states Mr. Balu. “I was the Treasurer for 10 years and am currently the Vice Chairman, something I consider an honour. As part of our objectives, the society boosts co-operation in the fields of economic, commercial, cultural, sports and scientific fields.” 

The society’s dynamic board encompasses various professionals and hosts numerous events in coordination with the Indian Embassy and other prominent bodies in Bahrain, including the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), Bahrain Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (BCICAI) and other government bodies like the Economic Development Board (EDB). 

“Most recently, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the BIS and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in March, the main objective of which is to promote industrial and business relationships,” he states.

The BIS comprises 120 members, of which there are 15 corporate members and 105 individual members, which includes the board members, mentors, past chairmen and others. Corporate members are entitled to nominate five as representatives and members include both Bahraini and Indian businessmen, doctors, media, lawyers, educators, chartered accountants and other professionals.

Membership brings a number of perks. For example, the BIS will host the profile of corporate members and individual members on the BIS website and provide special access codes so they can access other members’ profiles and develop contacts between them to network for their mutual benefit. Sponsorship and hosting of company services is also available.

“We are currently finalising the details on introducing international benefits to the BIS,” Mr. Balu explains. “As well as aiming to get corporate sponsors like banks, insurance companies and large corporates on board, we will get reciprocal membership with the Indian Club in Dubai, the Bangalore Club, and the Gymkhana Club in India. Not only this, but we are working on getting special discount arrangements with other amenities such as five-star hotels clubs, premium credit cards, fine dining restaurants etc.” 

As part of its monthly activities, the society invites prominent speakers, including ministers, to give talks on subjects of interest to the members. “This does not just have to be business, but also knowledge building, wellness and other informative subjects. Recent examples of topics from the last year include the latest development in the country’s economy, insurance, banking, risk management, succession planning and will execution,” he says.

“Finally, we are excited to have more interaction with the Bahrain Embassy in India, and a programme is in place with the Ambassador of Bahrain to India and the Indian Embassy in Bahrain for closer co-operation in commercial, cultural and sports activities which will include fun events for our members,” he adds.

As one of the cornerstones of Bahrain-India relations, BIS is always looking for ways to improve that relationship, and there are exciting plans in the pipeline to achieve this. According to Mr. Balu, chief of these is pursuing the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between Bahrain & India.

The society is also currently developing relations between the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), and other national organisations of India. “Having closer coordination between other entities in India about business opportunities available in India will allow us to disseminate these to the business community in Bahrain and provide opportunities. Creating awareness of the benefits of setting up companies in Bahrain for Indian businesses to take advantage of the Free Trade Agreement between the US and Bahrain is important to us,” he says.

“Furthermore, it is important for us to facilitate businesses and enterprises from both countries. To do this, we will be holding a Bahrain-India Trade fair in the near future and we are putting the finishing touches on creating a ‘help desk’ for investors, in co-ordination with the Indian Embassy, which will offer extensive information about conducting business in either country,” he elaborates. 

Some of Mr. Balu’s other social commitments include being an executive member and internal auditor of the Indian Community Relief Fund (ICRF), providing aid and welfare services to Indian workers in the Kingdom. He was also the Chairman and a current mentor of the Bahrain Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (BCICAI).

Contact Reem:
Mobile No.: 38 311-166
Email: [email protected]