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Remarks by Ambassador on the occasion of handing over of scholarships by the Indian community to the Thammasat University

Dr. Somkit Lertpaithoon, Rector of the Thammasat University
Vice Rector for International Relations
Dean of the Pridi Banomyong International College
Other senior officers of the University
Senior leaders of the Indian community in Thailand

Today is indeed a most important day for the India-Thailand relationship.  The process that we initiate today will, I hope, set in place, a permanent structure that will keep adding depth to the bilateral relationship every year, year after year.

While the India-Thailand relationship is substantive in every aspect, the one dimension that provides me with the most satisfaction is the academic one.  It is very gratifying that the leading universities of Thailand, Thammasat and Chulalongkorn, as also Silpakorn in many senses, all have seats for Indian studies.  The Chiang Mai University will also establish one later this year while the Rangsit University is in the process of setting up a Chair for the study of Indian traditional medicine.  The level of academic engagement was raised in a most substantive manner in 2013 when the prestigious Pridi Banomyong International College began a programme for Bachelor’s Degrees in Indian Studies, the first in Thailand and perhaps in the region as well. It also remains the only one.  The fact that many young people in Thailand study India, both contemporary and ancient, and can also obtain bachelor’s degrees in the subject, contributes immensely to our understanding of each other, our mutual empathy and our ability to work with each other.  This is a contribution to the relationship that is as substantive as that of any of the many MoUs that we have signed at the government level.

I place on record a deep appreciation to Dr. Somkit Lertpaithoon and to all his colleagues at the prestigious Thammasat University.  We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

            In the real world, it is necessary to cross the Ts and dot the Is. Or in other words, to balance the financial books.  It is also a fact that as an international programme, the Bachelor’s degree in Indian Studies is significantly more expensive than a regular one.  Give the importance of the programme, it would have been a great pity if money had come in the way of its implementation. I, therefore, wish to express our deep gratitude to the Indian community in Thailand.  They are some of the finest people and always most forthcoming.  They have done well in the material sense and have no hesitation in sharing the fruits of their labour with the country of their adoption and to its bilateral relationship with country of their origin.  They truly belong to both nations, India and Thailand.  I thank Mr. Vashi Purswani, Mr. S.S. Phool and Mr. Samir Yamdagni for harnessing the goodwill and willingness of the Indian community into this noble venture.  Though lofty, I do think that the word noble is appropriate for today’s context.  Each and every member of the community who is here today is making a contribution of at least Baht 70,000 for one student for the Bachelor’s in Indian Studies Programme for 2016-2017.   They are also committing themselves to making the same contribution for the next three academic years as well.  The total contribution per student will therefore be Baht 300,000/- for the duration of the programme.  In total, 20 students will be covered.  I thank each one of you for your generosity and large heartedness.  I again do this from the bottom of my heart.

In conclusion, I thank my colleagues in the Mission.  They have, with the community and with the University, put all this together.  Our effort will be to come up with the second edition of the event next year as well.  Though it seems extremely daunting, our objective should be to create a corpus of 80 permanent benefactors for the Bachelor’s in Indian Studies Programme.  That would make the programme sustainable in perpetuity.  I hope we can achieve progress to some extent in this very large undertaking.

            I now invite the Rector, Dr. Pridi Banomyong to say a few words on this occasion.

Thank you.

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