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Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George on the occasion of the Republic Day Flag Hoisting Ceremony at India House in Berne, January 26, 2020

Posted on: January 26, 2020 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George on the occasion of the Republic Day Flag Hoisting Ceremony at India House in Berne, January 26, 2020

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 Republic 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. I welcome each one of you today.

Last few years have been a very important year for India and also India – Swiss relations. In 2019, we have been able to further strengthen our bilateral relations with Switzerland at all levels. The highlight for 2019 was the State Visit of Hon’ble Rashtrapatiji to Switzerland in September 2015, the last State visit from India was in 2011. Many of you attended various events during the visit of Rashtrapatiji. He was accompanied by a high level forty member business delegation. During the visit we signed three agreements including for cooperation in fight against climate change and also in forming an India – Swiss Alliance on Science and Innovation. 

I am happy that in October 2019, the current President of Switzerland HE Madam Simonetta Sommaruga as Vice President visited India leading a high level business delegation. Our business engagement is deepening with India’s export to Switzerland showing an unprecedented 14% increase in 2019.  Our business outreach this year has resulted in 30 new companies entering into collaboration with Indian companies. We have an ambitious target of 80 new Swiss companies during 2020.  We just returned yesterday after participating at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. We had several Ministerial and Official delegations including two Cabinet Ministers and two Chief Ministers. India and Indian companies had the largest number of business lounges in Davos. 

We have been working with a motto ‘Connecting Himalayas with Alps’. It is a partnership not only between governments and officials, it is a partnership involving several stakeholders such as universities, business establishments, laboratories, factories, science and technology cooperation, innovation and research and above all people to people contacts.  This year we are celebrating India Year of Tourism. 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. 

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. At the cultural front, we have partnered with many groups and associations including the vibrant Indian Associations in almost all parts of Switzerland. I am happy to state that we celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in almost every major city in Switzerland. I invite you to visit the statue of Mahatma Gandhi that Hon’ble Rashtrapatiji unveiled in September in Villeneuve, at perhaps one of the most beautiful locations in Switzerland on the banks of Lake Geneva, at a square renamed as Gandhi Square. I am visiting the square on January 30 to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his death anniversary. I invite you to join us. 

This year we have also celebrated the 550th birth anniversary of Shri Guru Nanak Devji. We also celebrated International Day of Yoga in twelve cities in Switzerland.  This year we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of India which was adopted on November 28, 1949. 

I am happy that the Consular services that we started last year in Zurich continues to serve a large number of Diaspora. 

In all our outreach efforts in Switzerland, we consider Indian Diaspora as our partners. We have launched a Thematic Library concept with a view to present hundreds of books on India to all major educational institutions in Switzerland. We also plan to present at least one book on India to every household in Switzerland.  I invite you to join us in this effort. 

I once again thank you for joining us today. 

Jai Hind.
Thank you.