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Remarks by Ambassador at the Gala Evening organized by Indian Association in Baden on Nov 2, 2019

Posted on: November 02, 2019 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador at the Gala Evening organized by Indian Association in Baden on Nov 2, 2019

Good Evening Everybody; A happy Diwali to all.

Thank you for inviting me to join you this Gala evening today, in this most beautiful part of Switzerland. 

As Ambassador of India to Switzerland, I bring to you greetings from Government of India and also from our 1.3 billion brothers and sisters of India. Greetings from 1/6th of the total population of the world.

As an Indian diplomat having spent considerable time of life in different countries, I can say for sure that Switzerland is one of the most happening places in the world. Every day we see various unique cultural and sports events, small and big, happening all over Switzerland. Here we see communes, cities and cantons engaged in a positive competition to celebrate Swiss life and values. Jazz festival to film festival to marathon races to peace marches, you name it, Switzerland is active and eventful. 

I am happy that more and more India related events are also taking place in Switzerland, thanks to the active Indian associations and our dynamic Indian community in Switzerland. It varies from an Ice Cricket on a frozen lake in St Mortiz, to major Indian exhibitions currently in Zurich, Indian Textile Exhibition in the National Museum and the GitaGovind Painting exhibition at Rietberg museum. 

At this moment, when I am speaking to you, at least five major India related events are taking place in Switzerland. I chose to join the celebrations by Indian Association in Baden. I am happy to state that I found the Indian Association in Baden as one of the most active Indian Associations not only in Switzerland, but in entire Europe and even beyond. I congratulate the office bearers of the Association for maintaining high standards in all their events. 

A striking feature of India’s foreign policy today is the special attention accorded by the Government of India and the State Governments to the Indian Diaspora abroad. Our diaspora is spread out over 200 countries and number over 30 million. During the last few decades this diaspora has become India’s bridges to the countries where they reside. They are also contributing immensely in India’s economic transformation. 

In the last few years, this relationship has been taken forward, forging an amazing partnership with Indian Diaspora abroad, not only an economic partnership, but much beyond a partnership of ideas, a partnership of the richness of your experience and your global exposure. We have seen the level of enthusiasm and energy with which Indian diaspora all over the world received Prime Minister Modi during his visits abroad, including in Houston last month where Prime Minister Modi and US President jointly addressed a gathering of over 59 thousand Indians. I would like to quote Prime Minister Modi who said, “Everything is not measured in dollars or pounds. The relationship we have with Pravasis is beyond that. It's a bond”. Unquote. In all his meetings abroad, he has issued a call to Indians abroad to become stakeholders in India’s future. In many countries, expatriates provide powerful constituencies of support, capable of influencing their leaders to engage with India more closely and intensively. 

I am happy that the Indian diaspora in Switzerland is contributing immensely in building relationship between India and Switzerland at all levels and in several fields. This diaspora has produced many successful entrepreneurs, scientists, beloved educationists, architects and engineers, medical professionals. In short, this small but vibrant diaspora are good civic minded citizens with stars in almost every profession. This diaspora is now nurturing a second and third generation far outshining their parents and grandparents, at the same time cherishing the fine traditions of India.

For us in Switzerland, last few years has been a very eventful one. As Ambassador to Switzerland, I was honoured to receive both the President of India and Prime Minister of India here. In 2018, Prime Minister Modi delivered the key note opening address at the WEF Davos. The fact that at a summit which was attended by over eighty Heads of State/Heads of Government and over 3000 CEOs and Business leaders, it was the Prime Minister of India who gave the opening key note address is reflective of India’s transformed global profile in 21st century. 

In September this year, I was honoured to welcome our President Shri Ram Nath Kovind, who visited Switzerland on a State Visit. He was received by all members of the Swiss Federal Council in Berne. He also travelled to other cities in Switzerland including Villeneuve near Montreux, where he unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. This year again saw the visit of Swiss Vice President Madam Simonetta Sommaruga to India. In addition to these high-level of political engagements, there has been a series of official and business engagement happening between our two countries. For us not a single day in Switzerland goes without facilitating some effort, some engagement or some initiative, both public and private, aimed at strengthening our multifaceted relationship. 

We, at the Embassy, work on two basic mottos ‘Connecting Himalayas with Alps’ and ‘Embassy of India – Home Away from Home’. The strong connection between Himalayas and Alps is getting stronger, every day.  Awareness on India is growing in Switzerland. People do not look at India any more just as a charity destination. Its economic transformation and scientific achievements like its space programme is getting more attention. A visit to India has always been in the wish list of most of our Swiss friends. I am happy that it is now moving from a wish list to an active ‘things to do this year list’ and the number of Swiss visiting India is on the rise.  

I am happy that the consular services that Embassy started in Zurich last year being welcomed by all. I would like to thank the Indian community in Switzerland for their active participation in the Festival of India that we organised last year to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the India – Swiss Friendship Treaty and for the celebrations to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. We are partners in promoting Yoga and Ayurveda in Switzerland. 

But we need to do more. Let me share an experience that I had last month. I was addressing a diplomatic school in Geneva. Present were students from many countries, mostly European countries. As I was speaking on India’s Foreign Policy, I thought it is important to start with a basic question. A question about two pioneer diplomats in ancient India. I asked them whether they heard about the story in our epic ‘Ramayana’, where Lord Hanuman, as a messenger of Lord Rama travelled all the way to Lanka and try to avoid a war with Ravan. I asked them whether they heard about the story our epic ‘Mahabharata’ where Lord Krishna tried to avoid the war between Pandavas and Kaurvas. I asked them whether they heard about Arthasastra by Kautilya written several hundreds of years before Machiavelli wrote his world famous The Prince. I was surprised to know that most of the students of diplomacy had not heard about Ramayana or Mahabharata or Arthasastra. I am happy that they were all aware of the festival of democracy that we celebrated in May this year in India when 600 million people went to polling booths to elect a new government. The largest democratic process anywhere in the world. 

We need to do more. World needs to know more about India, its epics, its values, its culture and also it economic transformation and scientific achievements. We need to encourage them to travel to India. Lets together celebrate India in Switzerland. I invite you to join the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Switzerland. 

I once again thank the office bearers of Indian Association in Baden for inviting me.

Thank you.