Away from politics, an ex-Foreign Minister continues his welfare work in Siliguri in Darjeeling

Former Foreign Minister and G20 Chief Coordinator Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

Former Foreign Minister and G20 Chief Coordinator Harsh Vardhan Shringla. Emphatic.

NEW DELHI: Former foreign minister and G20 chief coordinator Harsh Vardhan Shringla is not in the race for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections but he continues to work on the ground in Darjeeling, Siliguri and adjoining areas.

“My aim is to serve the people here and help them in any way I can, whether it is channeling youth seeking employment or working for the welfare of the elderly. I am committed to serving the community even after my retirement and reaching out to common people through the Darjeeling Welfare Society, which was established almost a decade ago,” Shringla told this newspaper.

Darjeeling and the Siliguri corridor areas are strategic development initiatives that have suffered from gaps in coordination between the central states.

“The Siliguri Corridor borders Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and China and connects India to Southeast Asia and East Asia via Myanmar. So it is of strategic importance. Moreover, a lot needs to be done for the locals here,” he added.

The locals of Darjeeling and Siliguri have appreciated his work in the area and hoped to see him contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

“The locals appreciate him very much, especially after he organized G20 events here. He has also helped the youth get jobs in the region,” said Sreejana C Gurung, an educationist from Mirik.

At a job fair organized in the region a few months ago, facilitated by Shringla, nearly 270 youth were offered jobs.

Meanwhile, speaking about the Siliguri corridor, Shringla said this part of the country is positioned to benefit from Prime Minister Modi’s focus on transforming the North East.

“The area is now in a position where it can leverage the combination of national and international initiatives. For example, Siliguri is where the National Highways Authority of India’s Golden Quadrilateral will connect to the Asian Highway network and future BIMSTEC land connectivity initiatives,” Shringla added.

Strategically located near the borders of Nepal and Bhutan, the Siliguri-Bagdogra area promotes cross-border trade, while its fertile plains support a thriving agricultural sector.

Meanwhile, even though Shringla is not contesting the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, there is talk that he will be offered an important position once the election process is over. After all these years of successfully serving as a diplomat, it is time that his services are used for the overall betterment of society.