CHENNAI: In recognition of his 25 years of service as Honorary Consul of Belgium to South India, Dr AC Muthiah was awarded the Order of Leopold II on Wednesday.
The chairman of ‘SPIC India’ said that it was a proud moment and went on to recall memorable instances during his tenure, after receiving the honour.
“I received Prince Philippe, who is now the King of Belgium, twice during my service,” he recalled. “Not many know this, but on one of his visits to Chennai, he expressed an interest in learning Sanskrit and even recited a few verses the same evening that I got him acquainted with a Sanskrit scholar,” the industrialist recalled, much to the astonishment of guests.
The ceremony held at the ITC Grand Chola, incidentally the first official event of this Consulate saw a number of dignitaries including Pieter De Crem, Secretary of State for Foreign Trade of Belgium and Jan Luykx, Ambassador of Belgium to India.
Luykx said, “It is noteworthy to mention that due to budget restrictions over 50 Belgian Consulates have been closed all over the world.” The Ambassador who is visiting Chennai for the first time added, “However, the Consulate in Chennai which was opened in 2014 is an exception, and that goes to show the importance we attach to South India and our trade relations here.” With bilateral trade between Belgium and India already at several million euros, he said, “It is our intention to expand and diversify our relations in sectors such as infrastructure, logistics and healthcare.”
After serving as Honorary Consul between 1988 and 2013, Muthiah resigned. The following year a full fledged Consulate General of Belgium was set up in Chennai.