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Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George on the occasion of the Independence Day Flag Hoisting Ceremony at India House in Berne, August 15, 2019

Posted on: August 19, 2019 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George on the occasion of the Independence Day Flag Hoisting Ceremony at India House in Berne, August 15, 2019

Thank you every body. Let me thank all of you for coming in for the flag hoisting ceremony here at India House. 

On behalf of the Embassy of India, Government of India and the 1.3 billion of our brothers and sisters in India, and on behalf of over 30 million Indian diaspora abroad let me once again wish you a very happy independence day. 

On this solemn occasion, I am honoured to see here at India House many seniors who have been attending the Flag Hoisting ceremony for several decades. I also see the young children in our midst who are beginning to learn the values and tastes of India. Many of you have come despite today being a working day in Switzerland. I welcome each one of you today.

Last few years have been a very important year for India and also India – Swiss relations. No one can deny the fact that in recent years that there has been a steady transformation in India’s profile at the global level. 

I recall the visit of Prime Minister to Davos last year to give the inaugural key-note address, at a summit which was attended by over eighty Heads of State/Heads of Government and over 3000 CEOs and Business leaders. The fact that Indian Prime Minister gave the opening key note address at the Summit is reflective of India’s transformed global profile in 21st century.

In recent years, at the bilateral level we have been able to maintain excellent relationship with Switzerland. We have been working with a motto ‘Connecting Himalayas with Alps’. Both sides are endeavouring to implement a mutually agreed Joint Statement which calls for ‘Long Standing Dynamic Partnership’. 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.

We had several high-level engagements, including our Prime Minister visiting Switzerland twice in the last three years, with HE Swiss President undertaking a bilateral State visit to India in 2017 and Swiss Foreign Minister visiting India in August last year. We have regular exchange of Ministerial and official visits. We have over ten annual dialogue mechanisms which meets regularly. We celebrated the 70th anniversary of signing of the India – Swiss Friendship Treaty with several events. 

In India’s transformational journey, we consider Switzerland as a natural partner. Our democratic principles is a major connecting factor for our two countries. It is much beyond that. Switzerland continues to be the largest trading partner for India in the entire Europe, more than Germany or France or UK. 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.

Similarly, there is a growing connect at the people level. More Indian tourists are visiting Switzerland. They can be found in large number 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. 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. I am happy that the number of Swiss tourists visiting India is also on the rise.

I thank our vibrant Indian Diaspora in Switzerland for their efforts in promoting Indian culture in Switzerland and also in strengthening our ties in education, science and technology and businesses. It is a recognition for the contributions of the Indian Diaspora that this year President of India conferred the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman to Dr. Rajendra Joshi, a scientist, who has set up a Skill Development University in India. Our Indian Cultural Network (ICN) and Indian Professionals Network (IPN), the two main vehicles of activities that the Embassy continue its efforts in promoting Indian interest in Switzerland.

I am happy that we organized a successful Festival of India in Switzerland covering several cities from Geneva to Lugano to St Gallen to Baden and Basel and of course Berne and Zurich. It was a successful endeavour in ‘Connecting Himalayas with Alps’. We have also successfully organized a Namaste Switzerland in December last year. We will be organising ‘Namaste Switzerland’ again this year. This year we are celebrating ‘India Year of Tourism’ and ‘India Year of Science and Technology in Switzerland’.

I am happy that last year we could start Indian Consular services in Zurich, which is being welcomed by all. 

One of the most important events for India this year is the celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In Switzerland, we are celebrating it by reaching out one and all. In Switzerland we are using social media to spread Gandhi’s messages in German, French and Italian languages. We are looking forward to unveiling of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Villeneuve near Montreaux later this year. Mahatma Gandhi had visited Villeneuve in 1931. 

As Hon’ble President said in his remarks, we are also celebrating the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev this year. I invite all of you to participate in these events. I also invite you to share your views and ideas with us. Together let us celebrate India in Switzerland.

Thank you very much.