“The only thing that can really bring change in a country is education”, remarked Mr Deepak Miglani, Consul General of India in Erbil, during his visit to the Middle East Research Institute (MERI) on 16 April 2017. Mr Miglani attended along with Mr Satya Veer Singh, Consul and Head of Chancery, in order to discuss the current situation in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), as well as the mutual interests and experiences of the KRI and India.
Discussion centred on the role of education in a country’s development. Mr Miglani underlined that “education receives the highest importance” in India, so much so that “education is like religion”. He suggested that this experience could be shared with the rest of the world through programmes such as scholarships.
Prof Dlawer Ala’Aldeen, President of MERI, concurred that India has undergone a vast transformation within the last generation and that education has played a significant role in this. Lessons could be learnt from India’s development in terms of institutionalisation, rule of law and investment in future generations.
India’s approach towards extremism was also deliberated. Mr Miglani highlighted that although 15 years ago extremism was a concern for India, the country’s diversity is now becoming its strength and that through treating individuals with equal respect this threat has been diminished. With regard to inclusivity and equal rights, Mr Miglani noted points of similarity with the KRI. The Consul General appreciated the role of independent think tanks and policy research in making progress during difficult times, and agreed to help in introducing Indian think tanks and visiting diplomats to MERI with the view to engaging them in collaborative interaction in the future.
India has a medium size diplomatic representation in Iraq and opened its Consulate General in the KRI six months ago. They promote bilateral trade and relations particularly in the fields of education, health, oil and manual labour. India imports much of its oil from Iraq. It provides fully funded scholarships to Iraqis and facility visits for Iraqis who seek medical services. Furthermore, currently there are around 6000 Indian expatriates in the Kurdistan Region, most of whom are manual labourers who have stayed in the KRI for some time, despite the recent economic hardship. Finally, the Embassy of India intends to facilitate visa awards in KRI by beginning to process applications from Erbil, beginning in May 2017.