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Republic Day 2016 Speech by Ambassador

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Distinguished guests, representatives of the Colombian government, members of the Diplomatic corps, my friends from India and Colombia.

I have the honour to convey my greetings to all present here on this 66th Anniversary of India’s Republic Day. 26 January is a red letter day in our country’s history, the day when the dream of our leaders from the independence movement was realized and India got its constitution. This is the actual day when we transcended from a nascent nation to a responsible republic that upholds democratic value of the highest order.

The constitution has withstood times of change and modernity very well in the last 66 years.

After 66 years of becoming a republic, the Modern India which is on the threshold of a great economic revolution and a greater footprint at the world stage. Our constitutional values form the core of this spirit.

The spirit of secularism, Equality of opportunity and fraternity forms the bedrock of Indian constitution. A multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual country like India has a liberal, secular and forward looking constitution at its core, a dream that was envisaged by our forefathers who won our independence.

During the last one year under the new government, India has advanced rapidly. Indian economy grew by more than 7.5% in the last year. It is expected to maintain a similar growth trajectory for the current year as well.

Government also plans to simplify the tax regime, bring more FDI relaxations focusing on manufacturing and increase agricultural productivity. Government of India also announced the ‘Make in India’ campaign in September 2014. The campaign aims at converting India into a manufacturing hub. Government has been pushing several legislative reforms including land reforms and taxation to facilitate ease of doing business and hence ‘Make in India’. Through its plans for ‘Clean India’, ‘Smart cities’ and ‘Digital India’, government of India also plans to overhaul the infrastructure and connectivity issues.

The last year has been very significant for Colombia and we are hopeful for the next year to get only better. The dawn of a final peace does not seem too far and this will bring a host of opportunities for the Colombian men and women, both economically and socially. The current peace process is not only the victory of Colombian people against all odds, but a victory for the whole mankind. We are extremely hopeful that the Peace deal will only bring us greater opportunity to engage the Colombian people and government in our bilateral relations.

I would also like to Congratulate our Colombian friends for the inclusion of Vallenato in the list of UNESCO‘s world intangible heritage. Vallenato is the music of the Colombian people and the flow and rhythm; all speak volumes about the easygoing and fun-loving habits of our Colombian friend. It was an honour for India to have supported Colombia in inclusion of Vallenato in the UNESCO’s list of world intangible heritage.

Speaking of the bilateral relations, India and Colombia share a very warm and cordial relation. India has a very small diaspora in India, but all of us have feel welcomed by the ever smiling Colombians.

I would like to congratulate Steven Mendoza, named the player of the tournament in the Indian Football League for 2015. Similalrly, I would like to wish best of luck to the Colombian movie, ‘ EL abrazo del Serpiente’, that won the Real Peacock prize for best film at the India international Film Festival and which surely is going to win Oscars. Likewise, I would like to highlight the achievement of Ms Libia Stella Diaz, director of the Movie Ella, who won at the Kolkata Film festival in India.

Desafio 2015, the popular reality TV show that aired last year on Caracoal TV was something which we also enjoyed to the hilt. All participants had a great experience in India. I wish that we have a similar coverage of Colombia through one of the Indian films or programmes, so that the Indians get to know more about Colombia.

Yoga and Dance have also caught up in a big way in Colombia. It was heartening to see more than 1500 men and women gather on a Sunday morning and participate in the first international day of Yoga. Events were held in other parts of Colombia like Barranquilla and Medellin. In the last one year we have seen a growing interest in Yoga activities across Colombia. The embassy is assisting universities design Yoga certification courses. We are already in touch with few schools and universities. It will provide an opportunity for the Colombians who cannot travel to India to have such courses in their neighbourhood.

Indian dance, both classical and Bollywood have become well known in Colombia. Embassy has also been offering Kathak dance classes without any cost to interested students in the chancery premises. Today, we are also going to have a demonstration of this beautiful art form for our distinguished guests.

We have had several musical and dance events in the past. One of the most recent one was a show by folk music group from Rajasthan headed by Shri Bundu Khan in July. Some more such events are scheduled in the Month of March. Seeing the great interest generated by Indian Music and Dance, the mission hopes to participate in major cultural festival across Colombia through cultural shows, exhibitions and events throughout the year.

The year also saw grand celebrations of Indian festivals Holi and Diwali by the Indian community and Friends of India. The joie de vivre and colours that these festivals emit is incomparable. And the participation by all our Colombian friends makes it even more boisterous. We have sung the tunes of Vallenato together and danced on the beats of Bollywood in tandem. I hope that such event keep on building more bridges between our two cultures. In this regard there is a need to support cultural events institutionally by both sides. This will need to a greater appreciation of our cultures in the host country.

Mahatma Gandhi has a special place in the heart of all of us. Thanks to the initiatives of our Colombian friends, we were able to install a Gandhi bust in the premises of CINSET in Bogotá and in Medellin. The Gandhi peace foundation in Medellin also celebrated a week of non-violence. The message of non-violence and multiculturalism is especially important in the current context and we hope that remembering Gandhi will certainly lead us to more harmony in our societies.

Indian films have also started generating a lot of interest in Colombia. India was invited as the guest of honour at 10th edition of ‘Festival de Cine Oriente’ organized in Guatape and Rio Negro in Antioquia. The Indian films were appreciated heavily by the audience. India also was the guest of honour at the Festival of Culture Boyaca. Several Universities including National University, Externado, Piloto organized India centered events on Politics, commerce and culture. Such events lead to a better understanding of India in general and our bilateral relations in Particular.

We also maintained continuous engagement with the Colombian government. Our Minister of State for Oil and Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan visit Colombia in May 2015.

The Bilateral Commercial relations saw new avenues opening up this year. While the trade volumes suffered due to the lowering of the oil prices, the year saw inauguration of Hero manufacturing plant in Valle del Cauca province by His Excellency the President of Colombia.

Conclusion

We would like to strengthen our bilateral relations even more. We hope to continue and deepen the engagement in the current year. We also wish a great year for Colombia, an year which hopefully marks the beginning of the end of bloodshed and violence that has cast its shadow too long on this country of magical realism. Once again, I would like to thank all present over her for making it to our celebration of the Republic day and I congratulate all my Indian brothers and sisters on the 66th anniversary of our Republic Day.

Thank You.

   


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