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Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at Inauguration of Festival of India in Basel, Dec 5 2018

Posted on: December 05, 2018 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George
atInauguration of Festival of India in Basel, Dec 5 2018

Friends of India, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Let me begin by welcoming all of you 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 Basel, with one of most reputed Kathakali troupes from India. Tomorrow we are in St Gallen and day after in Bern for the grand finale.

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. 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. 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.

Basel has a special place in our relations with Switzerland. It is home to the largest number of Indians in Switzerland. It has the largest number of business enterprises in the health sector. I invite you to join at the various events that the Embassy.

On December 17, we are opening a weeklong Namaste Switzerland in Berne. On January 8, I am hosting a PravasiBhartiya Divas at India House. I welcome all of you. On January 28, we are organizing an India Health Summit – Ayushman Bharat in Bern. 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.