About Us Speeches

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the India Day Celebrations at International School Berne Nov 19, 2019

Posted on: February 19, 2019 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the India Day Celebrations at International School Berne
Nov 19, 2019

Director and Principal of the School, Teachers, Distinguished Guests, Friends,

Good Evening.

Thank you for inviting me to school. My greetings to all of you. Actually, I bring you greetings from 1.3 billion people of India. I know that is a lot of greetings, from 1/6th of the total population of the world.

As diplomats, we wander all over the world. By the time a diplomat become an Ambassador, he must have spent several years of his life, in many countries, many continents. I have spent several years of my life in at least seven different countries. What is that most important thing a diplomat aspire for when is posted abroad. Or let me put it differently, what is that one thing which makes a diplomat, extremely happy in a posting.

It is not the beauty of the country, it is not the challenges in the assignment, it is not how rich the country is. Of course, these are all important elements. But the most important factor, is the quality of the school which you daughter or son attends. Whether she or he is able to assimilate well in the school. Whether within a year of his joining the school, he is part of the basketball team or a music band. Whether they are happy at the school. If your daughter or son is happily settled in the school, your posting abroad is done. You have peace of Mind. I am happy that my son attends one of the best schools in the world.

Congratulations and thank you, to the Director, Teachers and all who are part of the school story.  Congratulations for the students who performed here today.

Now let me say a few words about my country India. How many of you have been to India? I ask this question to many of the people whom I met. Most of them told me, not yet, but it is in my wish list. Good. The job of an Ambassador is to take it from the wish list and put in your ‘to do list’. Let me try to do that.

India is one of the oldest, largest and perhaps among the very few continuous major civilizations in the world. In India, we speak several hundred languages, we worship different Gods, we eat different foods, we wear different clothes, but there is a feeling of oneness and common consciousness, a civilizational bond, that keeps us together, make us proud as India. Every diverse culture in India flourishes, every region in India flourishes. We celebrate several festivals. One of the important festivals we celebrate is the ‘Festival of Lights’, Deepawali we call it. I am happy that Festival of Lights is being celebrated in Switzerland today. It is festival which celebrated the victory of good over evil. The virtues of goodness and truthfulness are essential components of Indian society.

In fact there is a growing connect of East and West today. Let me tell you a story. A story that I heard and said many times. The story of Alexander the Macedonian, also called Alexander the Great. After having crossed Persia, he came to India, met a sage on the banks of the river Indus, who he referred to as a ‘wise man’. This sage sat on a rock and spent all day and night staring at the sky. Alexander asked him what he was doing. The sage replied, "Experiencing nothingness.” The sage asked Alexander what he was doing. Alexander replied, "I am conquering the world.” Both laughed. For Alexander, the sage was wasting his one and only life experiencing nothingness! For the sage, Alexander was wasting his time trying to conquer a world that has no limits, with a sense of urgency that made no sense when one lives infinite lives. It was a moment in ancient history when West and East met. The fact is that, the empire that Alexander built collapsed within a few years of his death. But Indian spirituality continues to attract the world towards her. The connect between East and West continues to grow.

You have heard about Mahatma Gandhi. He is the father of the nation of India. He won freedom for us. This year we celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi.

While India is proud of its civilisation and festivals, its heroes like Gandhi, it is also proud of its scientific achievements, like its space programme. It is one of the very few countries which has a successful space program, having sent several satellites including three satellites of Switzerland to space. It is also the largest democracy in the world, where peaceful transition of power takes place.

I invite you all to visit India. Come and enjoy our festivals, our diversity, our dances, our food and our beautiful landscape.

Thank you.