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Home » Sushil Dhanuka, newly-elected President of the India-Thai Chamber of Commerce (ITCC), shares his vision for the organisation.

Sushil Dhanuka, newly-elected President of the India-Thai Chamber of Commerce (ITCC), shares his vision for the organisation.

by Masalathai Admin
Indian Diaspora In Thailand

Tricks of the trade

By Shaan Bajaj

In primary school, my peers and I partook in a small exercise where we had to come up with an alternative to money. I picked up a marker and a few dry lentils, marking each lentil with a dot. If it had one dot, it was equivalent to 10, two dots was equivalent to 20, and so on. Although there were many flaws with my lentil-based currency, the exercise taught me the foundations of our trading system, and how goods and services are exchanged in today’s world.

Trading has been the catalyst for growth time and time again, bringing people together to marketplaces, physical and digital, to seek new opportunities. It has been the foundation of relationships between people, organisations, regions, and countries. Bearing this in mind, as I walked into the India-Thai Chamber of Commerce (ITCC), I was hit by the realisation of the important role the organisation played in fostering and bettering trade relations between Thailand and India, and I was particularly intrigued to talk to the newly-elected ITCC President, Sushil Dhanuka.

Born in West Bengal, India, Sushil ventured to Indonesia in his 20s before coming to Bangkok in 1981, working as the VP of marketing for the Aditya Birla Group. Nine years later, he joined Mastex Co., Ltd when it was conceptualised, an embroidery and lace company with sales across the globe and an office in three countries. As I talked to him at the ITCC office about his experiences, it struck me how well he embodied the Thai-Indian identity, wearing both like a well-fitted blazer.

With decades of experience across India and Thailand, and true dedication to both the communities, he shares what he hopes to achieve during his tenure and delves into what we can expect from the ITCC under his leadership.

What motivated you to run for President of ITCC, and what does the organisation mean to you personally?
I have been on the board of the ITCC several times, and the treasurer for the last four years, so I am very familiar with the Chamber and its contributions. I have seen it grow in stature amongst the Indian community, and in various Thai bodies ranging from business groups to the government. Having lived in Thailand for so many years, and given my deep connections to the community here, I feel that this is a great time for me to contribute to deepening the role the ITCC plays in the community and beyond. There are many Indian
associations, spanning language, religion, culture, and more, however, the ITCC is the main body that brings the entire Indian diaspora together. It is very important to me that we remain relevant to all Indians, regardless of their background.

How do you think your professional background has prepared you for the responsibility of being president of the ITCC?
My career in Thailand has allowed me to build a strong network with people at all levels in different businesses, and I understand their priorities and concerns well. Furthermore, my leadership positions in other organisations such as Silpakorn University’s Sanskrit Studies Centre, the Thai-Bharat Cultural Lodge, the Thailand Hindi Parishad, and many others, has allowed me to get to know a wide range of people.

As the newly-elected president of the ITCC, what areas do you think need improvement, and what initiatives are you planning to continue from before your tenure?
I believe we can do more to assist Indian businesses with professional guidance when working with Thai ministries and regulatory bodies. I also want to bring on more Indian expatriates and professionals, especially individuals working at multinational companies. I am planning to organise activities and events to attract the next generation, getting them involved as active members, so the future of the ITCC remains strong. We also have an app that is available to use for our members, which they can use to stay up to date, and make use of membership benefits. We plan on building our social media presence further to connect to the younger generation. I hope to make the ITCC even stronger in its role as a connection between Indian and Thai businesses. I think this is especially important now as India grows stronger economically, hand-in-hand with their strong Look East policy.

Can you tell us a little bit about the new Executive Board and what they bring to the table?
I am very excited about the new Board, which is probably the youngest one the chamber has ever had. They bring a wide range of experience and expertise from many different industries, and an energy that is unparalleled. All the directors are willing to work very hard to bring something new to the workings of the ITCC. They have all promised to work together to achieve our goal, and take the ITCC to new heights. Along with the Board, we have an amazing and very active office team, led by Nikhita Bhatia who knows the Chamber very well. She is ready at all hours to ensure the ITCC runs smoothly, and the Chamber could not function without her.

The ITCC is a cornerstone of trade between India and Thailand, with a longstanding history in the Kingdom. How do you plan on carrying on that legacy?
You are right, and thanks to our previous president Ravi Sehgal, the ITCC has gotten much closer to the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade of Thailand and other foreign chambers, along with the Embassy of India in Bangkok. I am thankful for his continued guidance and advice when required. I plan to enhance these relations further and am happy to share that I have had very fruitful discussions with H.E. Shri Nagesh Singh (the Indian Ambassador to Thailand) regarding this. He has assured me that the Embassy will work closely with the ITCC on bilateral trade relations between Thailand and India. He will also involve the ITCC with Embassy events related to commerce and trade.

How do you plan on encouraging trade ties between Thailand and India?
We need to work with established commerce bodies in India and relevant Thai ministries, to help businesses avail of the opportunities available on both sides, and to help them run smoothly. We are working closely with various Indian business bodies, and I plan to continue collaborations. For example, we recently signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce (FKCCI), under the guidance of the Royal Thai Consulate-General, Chennai. I also sent a delegation to the upcoming BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) conclave in Kolkata. We are also actively involved in any Indian trade delegation that comes to Thailand.

How do you hope that the wider Thai-Indian community will interact with the ITCC? And how do you plan to make it more accessible for everyone, including the younger generation of Thai-Indians?
As I have mentioned before, this is a strong priority for me. I want to make the ITCC the premier networking organisation for all professional Thai-Indians. I plan on hosting more events to create a stronger support network, and I also aim to improve our monthly newsletter to reach a much wider audience, so they are encouraged to be more involved in our activities.

What is your message to the Thai-Indian community?

Every Indian living in Thailand is an ambassador of India to Thailand. We have a dual responsibility and duty towards both India and Thailand. In Hindi, I would say that India is our matrabhumi (motherland), while Thailand is our karmabhumi (land of action) – and both bhumis (lands) are very important. We should all work diligently in our respective fields and be the bridge between both nations – this is the duty of all Indians in Thailand. Lastly, I encourage everyone to attend the ITCC’s events, where you can build new relationships and learn from each other.

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