About Us Speeches

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the Independence Day Evening Reception at Hotel Belleview on August 15, 2019

Posted on: August 15, 2019 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the Independence Day Evening  Reception at Hotel Belleview on  August 15, 2019

Your Excellency Ambassador Raphel Nageli, Excellencies, Fellow Diplomats, Friends of India, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great honour to welcome each one of you to celebrate the 73rd Independence Day of India.  

In the morning today, we hoisted Indian Tricolor flag at India House in Berne. We joined the 1.3 billion Indians in India and over 30 million Indian diaspora abroad in celebrating India’s Independence, independence of over 1/6th of the humanity.

I bring to you greetings from the President of India, Government of India and 1.3 billion brothers and sisters from India. 

I have been in this beautiful country for just over eighteen months now, as Ambassador to Switzerland, The Holy See and The Principality of Lichtenstein. In this short period, as Ambassador to Switzerland, Lichtenstein and the Holy See, I was honoured to bring greetings of 1.3 billion people to Hon’ble President of Switzerland, His Serene Highness Prince of Lichtenstein and Holy Father Pope Francis. My Ambassador friends and diplomatic colleagues here would agree that, for a diplomat, it is no small achievement to work towards promoting your country’s relations with three important countries.

As Ambassador of India, another interesting matter that takes your daily attention particularly during these summer months is the large number of Indian tourists who travel to Switzerland for holidays. Today many of my Indian brothers and sisters can be found in large numbers in Bernese Oberland trying to climb mountains and run around in the valleys. They come in such large numbers here every year as if there are no mountains, no snow and no Bollywood in India. From the land of Himalayas, which means the abode of snow, they travel all the way to Alps to see snow. Some even travel to places like St. Mortiz and Montreaux as if there are not wedding locations in India, of course contributing to Swiss economy. 

In fact, Switzerland has become one of most sought after tourist destination for Indians. Having lived in this beautiful country for a few months now, I have no doubt whatsoever that Switzerland genuinely deserved to be a top tourist destination. During my travels to the length and breadth of this landscape, I realised that what makes this country the attraction of the world, is that here every Canton, every city, every small township and every village has something unique to offer. Wherever you go, you return with the satisfaction of having experienced something unique. The more you explore, the more you realise that there is much more you need to enjoy and explore.

I am happy to note that this is exactly what you hear from those Swiss tourists who have been to India. Many have spent a few weeks in some parts of India. Most speak about their experience and experiments with Yoga and Ayurveda, their houseboat ride in the backwaters of Kerala and their experiments with beaches of Goa. Many share their memorable experiences in Rajasthan and Agra, most of them are eager to visit India again. I am happy that the number of Swiss tourists travelling to India is also on the rise.

2019 has been a very special year for India. In April/May this year, India went to elections, a proud moment for Indians when their nation celebrated the ‘Festival of Democracy’ when over 900 million people went to polling booths to elect their government. It was the largest democratic exercise in human history. In fact, democracy is one of the values that bring India and Switzerland as close partners. 

Last few years have been very important for India – Swiss relations. Last year we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Friendship between India and Switzerland. We had several high level exchanges in recent years. HE Prime Minister Modi was in Switzerland in June 2016 and in January 2018. HE Swiss President was in New Delhi on a State visit in August 2017 during which we issued a forward looking comprehensive Joint Statement. Today it is the endeavour of HE Ambassador Nageli and myself to implement the comprehensive Joint Statement which called for a ‘Longstanding Dynamic Partnership’. I recall the visit of Federal Councillor HE Ignazio Cassis to India last year, when our leadership reaffirmed their commitment to take our bilateral relationship to high level of partnership. I thank the leadership of Swiss Confederation and Ambassador Nageli and his team for their support in taking our partnership forward. 

It is a partnership not only between governments and officials, it is a partnership involving several stakeholders in our relationship. It is one involving universities, business establishments, laboratories, factories, science and technology cooperation, innovation and research, and above all people to people contacts and exchanges. I am very happy to see the presence of many of our friends who have contributed in promoting this partnership today. 

In the last few months, I had the honour to meet and engage with most of you in Bern or at your home city. I see here a large number of friends of India, well-wishers of India, who have contributed to build a solid, vibrant and multifaceted, forward looking relationship between India and Switzerland. I see here several business leaders who have availed the billion opportunities that Indian economy offers as the fastest growing economy in the world.

In fact, our business engagement with Switzerland is growing rapidly. Switzerland continues to be the largest trading partner for India in the entire Europe, more than Germany or France or UK. Our bilateral trade today is nearly USD 20 billion. I am happy that more and more Swiss companies are looking at India as natural partners in business, in science and technology and in innovation. Almost on a daily basis new joint ventures or collaborations are being worked out between Indian and Swiss companies. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I see a growing India connect in most sectors in Switzerland, including in small and medium scale sectors.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Excellencies,

Thank you for your presence today. I look forward to remain in touch with you. This year on October 2, India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of Nation of India. We also celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji. I invite you all to join the celebrations later this year.

I now request HE Ambassador Raphel Nageli to say a few words.

Thank you.