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   Vol. 17 No. 63
Thursday September 27, 2018

India Lays An Egg At FIATA 2018

FIATA 2018 Opening

In the picture—As FIATA World Congress got underway in New Delhi, Wednesday September 25, (L) Samir Shah, Robert A. Voltmann, Neeraj Bansal, Chairman Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Debashis Dutta, Organizing Committee Chairman and A V Vijaykumar light the lamp. Meantime FIATA President Badat of Pakistan, unable to obtain an India Visa, was a no-show.

As The FIATA World Congress got underway in New Delhi, India the 1000-odd delegates and special invitees from the government and private organizations settled into their seats as a firestorm erupted from the first speaker’s platform.

Voltmann Tirade Lays It On The Line

     On the dais was Robert A. Voltmann, FIATA’s Secretary General. Invited to speak, Voltmann pointed out that a Secretary General had never addressed a World Congress in FIATA’s 92-year history. That was because the FIATA President, Babar Badat from Pakistan, was not present.
     Badat, he said, had not been given a visa by the Indian government.
     FIATA, said Voltmann, was a non-political organization but, he emphasized – rather hastily – that the Indian government had politicized the whole visa issue by not giving him one: “The Indian government says it has given a visa, but it has not.”

Cold War Years Recalled

    Adding fuel to the fire, the FIATA Secretary General said that even during the Cold War years, nothing like the Badat incident had happened. He trotted out more examples: Chinese FIATA delegates have been welcomed in Taipei, Jewish delegates have visited Dubai and Cypriots have been to Turkey for meetings.

FIATA On The High Ground

     Although Voltmann mentioned that FIATA would rise above all this since “we are used to finding solutions”. “We will be the change”, he emphasized, and to show “our protest” he asked the gathering to stand for Babar Badat.

Twitching Under the Heat

     Even as the next speaker was preparing to deliver his keynote address, Vandana Aggarwal, Economic Adviser, Ministry of Civil Aviation interjected. The seniormost government bureaucrat present in the gathering, she pointed out that Voltmann was wrong. Babar Badat had been given a visa and she had a copy of the email that had been sent to him as proof.      “Alleging that the Indian government had politicized the issue was totally wrong,” she emphasized.

  Inconceivable At FIATA 

     “Inconceivable that an esteemed businessman who also happens to be President of the world’s most important organized air forwarder group would be put through the ringer by bureaucrats of India.” That was one reaction to the news that FIATA President Babar Badat of Pakistan was refused a visa to preside over the FIATA World Congress this week in New Delhi.

Lost Horizons

     “Everyone had so much hope for this congress that would bring together the very similar cultures of India and Pakistan under one roof to accelerate cooperation for international commerce,” a source told FlyingTypers.

Pakistan Ban Played On

     FlyingTypers also learned that there were about 50 applicants from Pakistan that attempted to obtain visas to attend the FIATA World Congress and not a single visa was granted. India apparently decided, as one source put it, “to build a political firewall around this great international business gathering.”
     In previous conversations leading up to FIATA New Delhi, we had asked Babar if he anticipated any difficulty securing a visa for the event because of politics. He said:
     “I have travelled to India on business and enjoy many good and positive relationships in that country.”
     So why was Mr. Badat denied a visa and refused entry?

We Know Babar Badat

     It’s truly unfortunate that some small minds wiggled their way into the big plan of FIATA, an organization of more than 40,000 freight forwarders.
     Babar Badat is a true pioneer freight forwarder. He has worked hard to build a great commercial enterprise and has been a lightening rod organizing the freight forwarder community in Pakistan.
     Babar truly deserved better.
     We should not forget his gentle, guiding hand as President of FIATA. His absence in New Delhi stifles the possibility of achieving what should have been a truly great conference for all of us.

FIATA Announces YIFFA Awards

     Whatever the reason, Badat was not present to give his side of the story. However, what it did was mar the occasion which saw the three finalists of the FIATA Young Freight Forwarder of the Year Award for 2018 – Tjaka Segooa from Region Africa Middle East, Sarah Kate Skrypec from Region Asia Pacific and, Louis Perrin from Region Europe – being acknowledged for their ideas and receiving their certificates.
     The soothing balm came from Samir Shah, Mentor and Past Chairman, FFFAI. Speaking at the first interactive session that followed the inaugural meet, he pointed out “we are all international players” – meaning simply that visas and other such things should not hinder the business of trade and logistics.
Tirthankar Ghosh

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