Tharoor’s other Dubai connection

April 23rd, 2010

Amid the brouhaha about IPL, what has been forgotten entirely is Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor’s efforts to develop his constituency.
When Tharoor left the United nations, he got a new appointment as Chairman of Afras Ventures, a company based in Dubai in quest of investment opportunities primarily in Kerala. Tharoor’s assignment was envisaged as bringing him on long trips to India. At the time he was an NRI. Whether he still is, remains to be investigated.

Afras Ventures was founded by Nandakumar Radhakrishnan who has interests in developing his home state of Kerala. Tharoor was said to have been eager to be associated with the private sector for a public service endeavour like Afras.

Tharoor and Radhakrishnan got in touch with the Chief Minister of Kerala, state finance and education ministers and senior government bureaucrats on potential areas for investment. As the first tranche of investment, Tharoor set up an IT business finishing school in Kerala. The school was entirely funded by the Afras group. It was inaugurated by Governor R L Bhatia last year.

At the launch, Tharoor was quoted by local media as saying: “It’s a world-class facility with trained faculty from abroad.” About Rs 4 crore has been already invested on the Afras Academy for Business Communication (AABC). “More investment will be required, as we target doubling the student capacity soon,” he was quoted as having said. He informed reporters that Tina L Parsons, eminent Speech Language Pathologist and Voice Specialist from New York, had been appointed the Executive Director of Training.

The courses was to commence from June 2009, which means the first few batches must already have passed out. The curriculum was divided into four modules; Language & Grammar, Accent Modification, Presentation Skills and Business Etiquette. The fee for the standard course was Rs 30,000 plus service tax.

Technopark at Kerala capital has earmarked 10,000 sq m for two finishing schools. Part of this space has been alloted to AABC. Technopark has realised that HR development is as critical to IT sector growth as infrastructure development,  RK Nair, CEO, Technopark told reporters.

But why wasn’t Afras Ventures on Tharoor’s affidavit, submitted when he was elected, considering he was still employed by them?

 

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