How UAE-based entrepreneur's gifted jacket symbolised Shinzo Abe's warm ties with India

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil recalls unforgettable meeting with late Japanese leader

Photos Supplied
Photos Supplied

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 8 Jul 2022, 7:51 PM

Last updated: Sat 9 Jul 2022, 6:08 PM

While the world mourns the tragic demise of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, UAE-based Indian entrepreneur Dr Shamsheer Vayalil recalled his unforgettable meeting with the great statesman.

During Abe’s historic visit to India in 2015, Dr Shamsheer presented him a traditional Nehru jacket, which the Japanese leader wore during the meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the city of Varanasi.

“As an NRI and a UAE-based entrepreneur, it was a proud moment to see Abe in that jacket I gifted him. It was a love from the UAE becoming a hallmark of the strong relationship between the three countries,” Dr Shamsheer told Khaleej Times.

In 2015, Dr Shamsheer’s business trip to New Delhi coincided with Abe’s official three-day visit to India. Dr Shamsheer, the founder and CEO of Burjeel Holdings, met Abe on the first day of his trip to discuss medical technology cooperation opportunities with Japan.

Ahead of the meeting, Dr Shamsheer remembered reading about Abe’s paternal grandfather’s connection with India. His grandfather, the then Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, was introduced to Members of Parliament by the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru saying, “This is the Prime Minister of Japan, the country I respect the most.”

The memory of reading about Abe’s grandfather inspired Dr Shamsheer to present a golden beige-coloured Nehru jacket to the Japanese leader.

“He was intrigued when he saw the golden beige jacket and said ‘let us try it on now’. He asked me to help him put the jacket over his white shirt. He then happily posed for a photo wearing the jacket. He didn’t remove the jacket even when I left, making it seem like a symbol of friendship between India and Japan,” Dr Shamsheer recalled.

Winning over Abe’s heart

On the second day of the official visit, along with the Indian Prime Minister, Abe visited Modi’s constituency of Varanasi and participated in the Ganga Aarti, a religious prayer, at Dashashwamedh Ghat. During the event, Abe was dressed in the same Nehru jacket. And when Dr Shamsheer saw the visuals on TV of Abe at the ceremony wearing the jacket, his heart swelled with pride.

“While it is customary to give gifts to our guests, it fills our hearts when they accept the gifts wholeheartedly. I was happy and proud to see him wear the jacket as a symbol of the India-Japan relationship during this significant visit,” said Dr Shamsheer.


Shocking demise of a great leader

The entrepreneur expressed his shock over the passing away of Abe, who was shot during a campaign speech in Nara, Japan.

“He was a great leader who created opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors. Mr Abe was a crucial link in strengthening the relationship between India and Japan. This attack on Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister is condemnable. His untimely demise is a great loss to the world,” added Dr Shamsheer.

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