Missions of some countries were frustrated and upset with not being able to access their accounts fully and the limited flow of cash after the Indian government demonetized Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes in 2016. In fact, a handful of envoys even suggested harsh reciprocal measures against Indian missions and diplomats abroad, revealed outgoing Dean of Diplomatic Corps in India, Ambassador Frank Hans Dannenberg Castellanos.
The Ambassador of the Dominican Republic told News18 that getting the problems of missions solved and forming a consensus over what to communicate to the Indian government over the issue of demonetization was one of the most difficult jobs he had on hand in his four years as the Dean of Diplomatic Corps. While he has served in India for 15 years, he acted as a spokesperson for the foreign missions in India for four years.
He pointed out that while most countries believed and communicated that it was India’s internal matter, some had shown a sharp reaction to the financial constraints it imposed. Immediate payments in some cases, for instance, to labour at constructions that were on at some embassy buildings got stalled and tourists also came back to their respective missions with problems.
Followed by this was GST that also created initial problems for the diplomats in their GST returns. However, Ambassador Castellanos appreciated the Ministry of External Affairs for addressing their concerns by organising three meetings of the administrative staff of embassies with the finance ministry. He said it greatly helped in providing clarity and streamlining processes.
The Ambassador also had kind words for an “ever-evolving” India he has witnessed over the last 15 years. He called India a “world player” and praised it for the role it has played in the Covid-19 crisis extending help to various countries. He said India had turned the adversity to its diplomatic advantage by the humanitarian assistance it extended in the form of medicine export like hydroxychloroquine, paracetamol and other medical supplies. India helped the Dominican Republic twice during the last nine months of the pandemic.
Ambassador Castellanos called India a “unique destination” for diplomats. He also expressed great excitement at the fact that India had announced opening a mission in his country. So far, India’s Ambassador to Cuba deals with the Dominican Republic as well. Ambassador Castellanos’ next assignment will be in Moscow.