SEEPCH BY SHRI AJIT KUMAR, AMBASSADOR AND PERMANENT
REPRESENTATIVE OF INDIA TO THE UN AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL
ORGANIZATIONS IN GENEVA AT THE REPUBLIC DAY RECEPTION ON 26TH
Namaskar. Good Evening!
Ambassador Anjali Prasad, India’s PR to WTO,
Ambassador Amandeep Gill, India’s PR to CD,
Fellow citizens, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, and Media,
1. On behalf of my wife Margret, and all my colleagues at the Permanent Mission of India in Geneva, I welcome you all to our celebrations of India’s 68th Republic Day. Thank you for making time to join us on this important occasion.
2. India celebrated its 68th Republic Day with a spectacular grand parade this morning in New Delhi, showcasing our rich cultural heritage and military strength. His Highness the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi was the Chief Guest at the celebrations.
3. It was on this day in 1950 that India became a Republic by adopting a new Constitution. This day saw the culmination of the non-violent struggle of an extraordinary generation of leaders led by Mahatma Gandhi. The Indian Constitution is the holy book of democracy. I am personally proud of the fact that my father was a member of the Constituent Assembly, which drafted the Constitution of India.
4. One of the major achievements of India has been that with its 1.3 billion people - it remains the world’s largest democracy. With its strong institutions of democracy, it has been an oasis of stability in the region. As President of India in his address to the nation yesterday said, and I quote “We are today the fastest growing amongst the major economies of the world. We are the second largest reservoir of scientific and technical manpower, the third largest army, the sixth member of the nuclear club, the sixth member in the race for space and the tenth largest industrial power. From a net food grains importing country, India is now a leading exporter of food commodities. The journey so far has been eventful, sometimes painful, but most of the times, exhilarating.”
5. As Indian Republic enters her 68th year, our per capita income has shown a ten-fold increase, poverty ratio has declined by two-thirds, average life expectancy has more than doubled, and literacy rate has shown a four-fold increase. India’s pluralism and diversity - social, cultural, religious and linguistic, is our great strength and we celebrate it. Inclusiveness, the rule of law and protection of human rights of all people, remain high on our Government’s agenda.
6. Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Modi, Government of India is actively pursuing a number of path-breaking initiatives and flagship projects. These have set the foundation for a new wave of growth expected at 7.1 % this year. The `Make in India` campaign is aimed at making India a global investment, innovation and manufacturing hub. Modernization of 100 cities has been planned through `Smart Cities` programme. The Green Energy Mission, as part of our sustainable development commitment, targets 175 Giga Watts of renewable energy capacity by 2022. The `Digital India` initiative is transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy; and the ambitious “Start-up India” initiative launched last year seeks to unleash the entrepreneurship spirit of country`s youth. The Unique Identity Card - Aadhar, with its present reach of over 1.1 billion people, is helping in direct transfer of benefits, plugging leakages and improving transparency. Skill India initiative is aimed at skilling 300 million youth by 2022. There are plans for large-scale expansion of infrastructure in India that would attract greater domestic and foreign investments, new technologies, skills, jobs and innovation.
7. As India pursues its transformation, the world is going through profound changes. Our transformation is not separated from India`s external context. At a recent conference in India, our Prime Minister said and I quote “The world needs India`s sustained rise, as much as India needs the world. Our desire to change our country has an indivisible link with the external world. It is, therefore, only natural that India`s choices at home and our international priorities form part of a seamless continuum. Firmly anchored in India`s transformational goals.”
8. There are global threats and challenges that we all face. India stands shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world in finding ways and means to deal with them. Terrorism remains the most serious challenge to international security. The need to develop a serious global response is a high priority for India. India has also initiated action to implement SDG’s as well as Climate Change Agreements into action. In fact, Prime Minister Modi had said “…Today, much of India’s development agenda is mirrored in the Sustainable Development Goals…. also sustainable development of one-sixth of humanity will be of great consequence to the world…”
9. India has been and will remain an active and responsible participant in the deliberations in the United Nations and its specialized agencies and other International organizations based in Geneva. India looks forward to working with all of you. But United Nations, including its Security Council, needs to be reformed to make it more representative of the contemporary geopolitical realities. A reformed UN will carry greater credibility and legitimacy and will therefore be more effective in achieving our shared goals.
10. We thank you for joining us on the second observation of International Yoga Day at UN and all our functions, including the two events at WIPO showcasing India’s culture. As we celebrate the 70th year of independence later this year, we have planned a series of events, including an Indian film festival.
11. Before I conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to extend warm greetings and best wishes to members of the overseas Indian community in Geneva. Through their hard work and dedication, they have made proud not only the country of residence but also India. I wish them all success.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
12. As this would be the last time I will have the honour to host India’s Republic Day in Geneva, I thank you for your friendship and cooperation and for joining us this evening. I now invite you to join in tasting some Indian cuisine.