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Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at Inauguration of Festival of India in Lugano,

Posted on: October 18, 2018 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at Inauguration of Festival of India in Lugano, October 18, 2018 

Your Excellency Claudio Zali, Excellencies, Friends of India, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good Evening Lugano. Let me begin by welcoming your Excellencies and Friends of India to this evening. 

I thank President HE Claudio Zali for his presence and support today. I recall our excellent meeting a few months back when he hosted me and my wife in Bellinzona. Thank you Excellency.

This is the first time that Embassy of India hosting a festival of India in Ticino. But India’s cultural and business engagement with this Canton is special. Indian films are usually part of the world famous Locarno film festival here in Ticino. It is also the scene for some of the famous Indian Bollywood movies including Dhoom 3. The museum in Lugano has some of the rare collections of photographs of Mahatma Gandhi that Walter Bosshard, a Swiss, took in 1930s. 

This festival of India is part of a yearlong celebrations that the Indian Embassy in Berne is organizing all across Switzerland as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the signing of Friendship Treaty between India and Switzerland signed in 1948. Through this festival our endeavour is to connect Himalayas with Alps; India with Switzerland. We have a variety of artists from India performing during September to December 2018, to commemorate the 70th anniversary. Today we are in Lugano, with one of most reputed Kathak troupes from India. Yesterday we were in Brugg Windisch. Tomorrow we will be in Zurich. 

This year, we are also celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation of India. 

In recent years, there has been a deeper engagement of India and Switzerland in recent years. As you are aware, Prime Minister Modi was in Switzerland in June 2016. Swiss President was in New Delhi on a State visit in August 2017 during which we issued a forward looking comprehensive Joint Statement which calls for a ‘long standing dynamic partnership’. In January 2018, Prime Minister Modi was in Switzerland to deliver the opening key-note address at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. And in August this year we had the Foreign Minister of Switzerland H.E. Dr. Ignazio Cassis visiting New Delhi and the historic city of Varanasi. I accompanied him in his meetings in Delhi. We maintain regular engagement with the political leadership in Switzerland and its Cantons. 

Equally important is our business engagement with Switzerland which is growing rapidly. Our bilateral trade today is nearly USD 20 billion. Of this USD 20 billion a large component is precious metal that we import from Switzerland. There is a Ticino connection there, as some of the best gold refineries are located in this Canton of Ticino. The engagement between Indian and Swiss companies are deepening. Same is the case with other areas such as culture, movies, yoga, Ayurveda, tourism, cuisine and people to people exchanges. 

As you are aware the Embassy has set up an Indian Professionals Network (IPN) and Indian Cultural Network (ICN) which organize regular events. 

It would not be an exaggeration to say that I see an India connect in every corner of Switzerland. Almost every museum in this country has some India connection. Last month I visited the Swiss Games Museum in Montreux. It has a unique collection of games which originated in India. The Rietberg museum in Zurich has one of the best collections of India art. 

Every year several hundreds of thousands of Indians travel to Switzerland to appreciate the beautiful landscapes of Switzerland. Each year several thousands of Swiss nationals travel to India for tourism and business. Almost every city in Switzerland has an Indian restaurant and also group of citizens who believe in yoga and practice it every day. Indian film industry continues to look at Switzerland as a shooting destination.  The list of engagement is long. I urge you to keep in contact with us through social media including through our website, Facebook and twitter. 

I once again welcome you to this festival. Have a good evening.

Thank you.