A career diplomat with over three decades of experience, scholar of international relations and former journalist, Mr. Venu Rajamony was former Ambassador of India to the Netherlands from 2017-2020. He is also the Permanent Representative of India to the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague as well as responsible for India’s relations with the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Ambassador Rajamony’s tenure has seen a vibrancy in India-Netherlands relations like never before with the exchange of several high-level visits and a number of unique initiatives to enhance the profile of India. He also authored two books during this period – What We Can Learn From The Dutch – Rebuilding Kerala post 2018 Floods and India and the Netherlands – Past, Present and Future.
During Ambassador Venu Rajamony’s tenure, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima paid their first State visit to India in October 2019 accompanied by the largest ever trade mission from the Netherlands to a foreign country, comprising of 250 representatives of 140 companies and knowledge institutions. Prime Minister Mark Rutte also visited India in 2018 while visits from India to the Netherlands have included that of External Affairs Minister Dr.S.Jaishankar in November 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2017 and Chief Ministers of Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and West Bengal.
Some of the unique initiatives launched under Ambassador Rajamony’s leadership include the opening of the India House or residence of the Ambassador in Wassenaar (a 105-year-old historic monument) to the public on India’s Independence Day, Republic Day and Monuments Day; a tourism promotion initiative called “Bollywood on a Boat” in the canals of Amsterdam on King’s Day national holiday; organization of International Yoga Day Celebrations in Museumplein and Dam Square of Amsterdam as a one-day wellness festival and activities to mark the International Day of Non-Violence in The Hague including a Gandhi March and outreach to schools and colleges.
Ambassador Venu Rajamony appeared on behalf of India before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in the matter of “Advisory Opinion concerning the Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius.” He was a Member of the Indian delegation before the ICJ in the Jadhav case (India v. Pakistan) and Co-Agent of India in the case concerning the Enrica Lexie Incident (Italy v. India) before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). He was leader of the Indian delegation to multiple sessions of the Conference of States Parties and Executive Council of the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Ambassador Venu Rajamony’s book ‘India and the Netherlands – Past, Present and Future” was released at the prestigious Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam on September 30, 2019 to great acclaim by HM King Willem-Alexander in the presence of Queen Maxima and a large number of distinguished guests including the Dutch Minister for Education, Culture and Science; King’s Commissioner of the province of North Holland; Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam and Ambassadors of around 26 countries. The book has won praise as an encyclopaedia of the cross-cultural legacy between India and the Netherlands, which presents vivid snapshots of relations between the two nations over the centuries and brings to life the compelling personalities whose contributions shaped the Indo-Dutch discourse.
The book “What Can We Learn From The Dutch – Rebuilding Kerala Post 2018 Floods” was released in Kerala in January 2019. The book describes the Dutch response to floods over history, their innovations in water management and the lessons the state of Kerala in India can learn from the Dutch. Kerala witnessed the largest ever floods in hundred years in August 2018. The book highlights the need for the state to equip itself with technical know-how and expertise to avoid another such disaster.
Ambassador Rajamony held the prestigious office of Press Secretary to the Indian President during tenure of President Pranab Mukherjee from 2012-2017. His responsibilities in this capacity included advising the President on all media-related matters; overseeing the President’s public interface, press briefings and interactions; projecting the Presidency in conventional and new media and assisting the President with speeches and research. He was part of President Mukherjee’s team during interactions with visiting leaders such as Emperor Akihito of Japan, President Xi Jinping of China, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, President Barack Obama of USA, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President François Hollande of France, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi among other luminaries. He also assisted the President when he received in New Delhi leaders of the SAARC countries attending the swearing-in of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014 as well as during the India-Africa Forum Summit attended by 54 African leaders. He was also senior member of President Mukherjee’s delegation during State visits to 20 countries, including China, Russia, Palestine, Israel, Bangladesh and Vietnam.
Ambassador Rajamony accompanied the President on over 100 official tours within India and interacted with political leaders and civil servants of every State and Union Territory. He further played key roles in the organisation and conduct of all important functions at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, including swearing-in of Ministers, conferral of the nation’s highest civilian awards (Padma Awards), gallantry awards to defense personnel, Conferences of Governors and Lt. Governors of all States and Union Territories.
Other important positions held by Ambassador Rajamony in his long diplomatic career of around 33 years include serving as Joint Secretary and head of Multilateral Institutions Division of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance, Government of India with responsibilities for formulating India’s policies towards the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. In this capacity, he supervised external assistance to India of around $34 Billion (spread over 140 projects) from multilateral development banks. He was India’s Deputy to the International Development Association and member of India’s delegations to the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary and Financial Committee of the IMF and the Development Committee of the World Bank Group as well as the Annual General Meetings of the ADB.
Ambassador Rajamony served as Consul General of India in Dubai from 2007 to 2010. This period marked a high point in relations between India and the UAE with extensive efforts made to advance the welfare of the over two million strong Indian community, promote trade and investment, reach out to UAE nationals and enhance India’s image and soft power. In 2010, Venu Rajamony capped his stint in Dubai with the publication of a coffee table book titled, ‘India and the UAE: In Celebration of a Legendary Friendship’. A Malayalam version of the book was released in Kerala in 2013 and the Arabic version was published in the UAE in 2014.
Fluent in the Chinese language, which he studied at the University of Hong Kong, Ambassador Rajamony is also proficient in Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam and French. He has served as a diplomat in the Indian missions in Hong Kong, Beijing, Geneva and Washington, D.C. He worked as Chef de Cabinet to External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha from 2003-2005 and was also Asia Foundation Fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC between 2001–2002. He authored a much-acclaimed monograph titled ‘The India-China-US Triangle: A Soft Balance of Power in the Making’ during his fellowship at the CSIS.
Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Rajamony worked as a journalist with India’s leading national daily Indian Express from 1983-86 earning a reputation for rigorous investigation and comprehensive reportage
Ambassador Venu Rajamony holds degrees in Law from the Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala and a Masters in International Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.