A career diplomat with over three decades of experience, scholar of international relations and former journalist, Mr. Venu Rajamony is the Ambassador of India to the Netherlands since June 10, 2017. He was promoted as Secretary to the Government of India in July 2018.
Ambassador Rajamony’s tenure of over a year has seen a vibrancy in India-Netherlands relations like never before. Prime Minster of India Narendra Modi visited the Netherlands on June 27, 2017 and held high level discussions with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and senior members of his cabinet. PM Modi called on King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima, participated in a CEOs Roundtable attended by leading corporate leaders of the Netherlands and addressed the Indian community during the visit.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the Netherlands from June 19-24, 2017 and Union Minister of Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal visited the Netherlands on August 22-23, 2017. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte paid a return visit to India from May 24, 2018. He was accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising of four Cabinet ministers, namely Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality; Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management; Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation; and Minister for Medical Care; as well as the Mayor of the City of The Hague. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands who is UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development met Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2018. She then followed up the same with a visit to India from May 28-30, 2018. Queen Maxima met Prime Minister Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal and RBI Governor Urjit Patel, etc and discussed various initiatives taken by the Government of India for expanding financial inclusion.
Under Ambassador Rajamony’s leadership, the Indian Embassy launched in 2017-2018 a number of unique initiatives. Some of the highlights were the opening of The India House or residence of the Ambassador in Wassenaar to the public for India’s Independence Day and Republic Day for the first time. At the request of the local municipality, the residence, which is a 104-year-old historic monument, was further opened to the public on Monuments Day September 9, 2017.
A novel “Follow the Mahatma” Campaign to mark the International Day of Nonviolence (Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday) was launched on October 1, 2017. This campaign involved the ‘Gandhi March’ from the iconic Peace Palace, home to the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, to the historic Grote Kerk or Big Church of The Hague. Over 800 people of different ages, nationalities and walks of life participated in a ‘Gandhi March.’ Also, as part of the “Follow the Mahatma” campaign, on October 2, 2017, volunteers visited schools of Netherlands to conduct interactive classes on Mahatma Gandhi and the importance of non-violence.
On King’s Day (April 27- the biggest national holiday of the Netherlands), a unique initiative titled “Bollywood on a Boat” to promote tourism promotion was launched in the canals of Amsterdam. This was a huge success with around 50,000 revellers in boats and on the banks of the canals enjoying the performances. The boat with Bollywood and folk dancers and dhol players sailed through the three main canals of Amsterdam – the Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht covering more than 100 km for over five hours.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Internal Affairs of the Netherlands, Kajsa Ollongren and Mayor of Utrecht, Jan van Zanen, attended as Chief Guests India’s 69th Republic Day reception held at the historic venue of Nieuwekerk Amsterdam on January 26, 2018. The event was marked by many firsts. It was hosted at the historic venue of NieuweKerk on the Dam Square of Amsterdam which is the official venue for the Dutch Royal investiture ceremonies and the Royal weddings. The venue was lit up in tricolour marking the first time ever that a prominent monument of the Netherlands was decked up in the Indian colours. Moreover, guests had opportunity to view first hand a bicycle and Charkha personally used by Mahatma Gandhi, handwritten corrections of a speech by Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island Bible displayed as part of an exhibition – “We have a dream- Gandhi, King and Mandela”
The whole-day wellness festival at the prestigious Museumplein, Amsterdam organized by the Embassy of India on June 17, 2018 to mark the International Yoga Day was inaugurated by the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands, Ms. Cora van Nieuwenhuizen and spiritual guru His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. It was the largest yoga celebrations organized in the Netherlands till date. A large number of Dutch and Indian dignitaries as well as Ambassadors of many countries took part in the celebrations and the mass yoga demonstrations. The grand finale was a performance titled “The Soul Shanti Concert,” by violin maestro Dr. L. Subramaniam and Bollywood playback singer Kavita Krishnamurthy. The day also featured vegetarian and vegan food, a promotion of Indian tea and stalls put up by Maharishi Ayurveda, Art of Living, etc providing wellness & advice.
Prior to assuming office as Ambassador of India to the Netherlands, Venu Rajamony was Press Secretary to President of India Pranab Mukherjee from August 2012-May 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. During Venu Rajamony’s tenure, the Rashtrapathi Bhavan’s media outreach efforts, brought accolades for being the most media-friendly official institution in Delhi. The President’s social media accounts also achieved tremendous popularity.
Venu Rajamony was part of President’s 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 Pince of Abu Dhabi among other luminaries. Venu Rajamony assisted the President when he received in New Delhi leaders of the SAARC countries attending the swearing-in of Prime Minister Mr. 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.
Venu Rajamony accompanied the President on over 100 official tours within the country and interacted with political leaders and civil servants of every State and Union Territory. He had 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 Venu Rajamony in his 32-year-old diplomatic career include serving as Joint Secretary and head of Multilateral Institutions Division of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance, Government of India from 2010-2012. In this position, he was responsible for formulating India’s policies towards the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. He also supervised external assistance to India of around $34 Billion (spread over 140 projects) from multilateral development banks. During this period, Venu Rajamony 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.
Venu 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. Extensive efforts were 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.