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Bharat Joshi

British Deputy High Commissioner, Chennai

Part of UK in India

17th November 2013 Chennai, India

Royal Visit: Epilogue

The sudden absence of adrenaline, imminent deadlines, last-minute glitches and 10 things to do at once has actually brought a massive and slightly dreary sense of anti-climax. I probably shouldn’t be that surprised that several colleagues have fallen ill: like a car, human beings aren’t designed to go from fifth gear into first instantaneously. Even more bizarrely, the visit already feels a very long time ago.

The illusion of time past also offers some strategic perspective on what HMG has got out of the trip and on what comes next. My starting list:

Access: It’s hard to imagine that I’d have been able to open up as many doors in 3 years as the Prince of Wales has in 3 days. That’s about the level, but also the breadth –  covering everything from business to education to arts. We also had depth: the number of collaborators from across Government, for example, means that our Kerala networks are much more comprehensive now than they were a week ago.

Visibility: I know from my last job as non-resident Ambassador to four neighbouring countries, that no matter how often I travelled to the other countries – and I did – it was hard to persuade countries that the engagement was serious and meaningful. A visit like this one does a lot to allay such fears. It was as useful for partners, including the British Council and, just as importantly, for UK business partners working in Kerala.  It also showed off to Kerala the Mission’s diversity, with a Gujarati Head of Mission, and Keralite, Tamil, Marathi, Punjabi and British (expat and locally resident) colleagues.

Deliverables: high-level visits can help unblock or speed up progress on delivering UK priorities. This visit has helped do that, but has also opened up new channels of co-operation. The Aluva Municipality future-proofing project and the conservation strand around elephant corridors will be new areas of work for BDHC Chennai.

– Team-building. This is actually a misnomer. But it’s true that as the new DHC – in the job for just 4 weeks on Friday – I had the opportunity to watch a lot of my team operating under pressure. It also brought together colleagues from across the Mission (Political, Corporate Services, Visas, UKTI, etc) and from across the network, including Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, DfID, the Ministry of Defence and the British Council. And for my team, it was a chance to develop project management skills, with everyone responsible and accountable  for clear and measurable outcomes. It was an approach that worked really well.

I’m sure there are more, and I’d welcome thoughts on what I’ve missed.

I’ve also been thinking about the what next. That’s the harder bit. In the same iceberg-like way that the actual visit was the outcome of several months of planning, preparation and hard work by a whole raft of people, including the HMG team but also the local authorities and hosts of the various events, the hard work lies ahead. The real success of the visit should be judged on how well we sustain the new partnerships that have been created, and how well we follow through to ensure that the benefits for Kerala and the UK are realised. No pressure then.

And thanks to everyone who’s reading. My kids – who briefly thought I was cool when the Mefou Park in Cameroon named a new chimp after to me – can’t believe that I have 50 likes, only one of which is from me. Honest!

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About Bharat Joshi

Bharat was brought up in Kent. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1995 from the hotel industry and has had diplomatic postings to the Gambia, Dhaka and…

Bharat was brought up in Kent. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1995 from the hotel industry and has
had diplomatic postings to the Gambia, Dhaka and Qatar. He was most
recently British High Commissioner to Cameroon, and non-Resident Ambassador to Gabon, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Central African Republic.
Before that he worked as a Private Secretary to two British Ministers, as well as in various Departments of the FCO including the European Union Department and Press Office.
Bharat has experience of crisis management and has been deployed to the scenes of major incidents involving British nationals, including after the tragic bombing of the British Consulate-General in Istanbul in 2003.
Bharat’s varied career has been spent dealing with a full range of
HMG objectives, including promoting political and economic reform and
improved human rights; improved UK prosperity through trade; climate
change and UN policy issues. A major part of his portfolio in Chennai is supporting mutual prosperity between the UK and India, transforming lives through jobs, entrepreneurship and skills partnerships.
Bharat has been very happily married (at least forhim) to Bhakti for 18 years and they have two
wonderful daughters. His interests are cricket, badminton, history, reading and travelling.
Bharat speaks English, French, Gujarati and Hindi and Spanish, and is desperate to learn Tamil.