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Opening Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the Kerala State Event on Nov 25, 2019 in Bern

Posted on: November 25, 2019 | Back | Print

Opening Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the Kerala State Event on Nov 25, 2019 in Bern

Hon’ble Minister of Health of Kerala Madam K.K. Shailaja Teacher, Health Secretary of Kerala Dr. Rajan Khobragade, Principal Secretary Dr. Sharmila Mary Joseph, Senior Officials, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Evening. 

It is my honour to welcome Hon’ble Minister of Kerala Madam K.K. Shailaja Teacher and the members of her delegation today to Berne. 

I have been in this beautiful country for over two years now. It has been a very eventful years in India – Swiss relationship. We have been able maintain excellent relations with Switzerland at every level, political, economic, cultural and people to people levels. In September this year, President of India was in Switzerland on a State visit. In 2018 we had the visit of Prime Minister of India to Switzerland and Swiss Foreign Minister to India. Last month, we had the Vice President of Switzerland undertaking a visit to India. I also recall the successful visit of Hon’ble Chief Minister of Kerala Shri Pinarayi Vijayan in May this year. At the economic level, our bilateral trade and investment relations continue to grow. We have over 300 Swiss companies operating in India and over 100 Indian companies present in Switzerland. This number is also growing.

One of the important elements of our engagement is the growing flow of tourists from India to Switzerland and from Switzerland to India. Switzerland is a great example for all to follow on how to attract tourists. In his famed book ‘Swiss Made’ R. James Breiding writes how Switzerland learnt to ‘sell snow and air’. During the months of April to July every year, we can see a large number of Indians in Bernese Oberland. The Indian tourists come to Switzerland from all states of India including Kerala. I noticed that many of Indian tourists are returning tourists, they come again and again to explore Switzerland. In fact, the number of Swiss tourists visiting India is also on the rise. As you come across an Indians in Bernese Oberland, we also come across foreign tourists exploring the God’s own country mostly undergoing Ayurveda. Kerala has become synonymous with Ayurveda. 

As a diplomat, one is happy to be in Switzerland. A country which ranks among the top globally in several metrics of national performance, including government transparency, quality of life, economic competitiveness, innovation index, human development, happiness index. I am happy to note that my state of Kerala also enjoys top position in India in the Sustainable Development Goals India Index including in Universal Health which Hon’ble Minister represents.

As Ambassador of India to Switzerland, I have been travelling the length and breadth of this landscape. In my travels I realised that what makes this country the attraction of the world, a sought after tourist destination, is that here in Switzerland, 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. This is what I hear from Indian tourists visiting Switzerland. 

Madam, this is exactly what I hear from those Swiss friends who have been to India and Kerala. Most speak about their experience and experiments with Ayurveda and their houseboat ride in the backwaters of Kerala. In fact, there exists a huge similarity between Switzerland and Kerala. In fact, Kerala offers a full diverse tourism package with its back waters, mountains and valleys, tea gardens, landscapes, wildlife sanctuaries, rivers, beaches, and above all great cultured people and its variety cuisine. Every small township and every village God’s Own Country has something unique to offer for visiting tourists, most importantly Ayurveda. 

Dear Friends,

I am happy that during the visit of the Health Minister of Kerala, we have been able to organise this event today. I thank you all for joining us on a working day. I thank Member of Solothurn Parliament Madam Susan for joining us today.

Cooperation in Health and Wellness is an important area for cooperation between our two countries. I recall the India – Swiss Health Summit and Ayurveda Day celebrations we organised this year in Switzerland. In fact, one of the target areas of the MISSP programme of the Mission is the Health Sector. 

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. 

One of the first things I ask any Swiss I meant both at official level and social level is this. Have you been to India? 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.  In fact the job of an Ambassador is to transform that wish list to a ‘to do this year’ list. 
I once again welcome Hon’ble Minister to this event.

Thank you.