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Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at Inauguration of Festival of India in Zurich

Posted on: October 19, 2018 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at Inauguration of Festival of India in Zurich, October 19, 2018 

Excellencies, Friends of India, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

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

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 Zurich, with one of most reputed Kathak troupes from India. Yesterday we were in Lugano. 

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. 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 here 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. The list of engagement is long. 

Zurich has a special place in our relations with Switzerland. It is the financial hub and commercial capital of Switzerland. It is home to the largest number of Indians in Switzerland. It is home to the largest number of Indian students in Switzerland. I invite you to join at the various events that the Embassy. On October 31, we are organising a business promotion event at FIFA auditorium in Zurich. All are invited to join. 

I am happy to announce that starting with December this year we are launching a fortnightly consular service in Zurich. We will come up with more details shortly. We are working on a weeklong Namaste Switzerland and India Film Festival in December this year. 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.