Other Services Message of Ambassador Anil Wadhwa on the occasion of Independence Day of India 2013

Message of Ambassador Anil Wadhwa on the occasion of Independence Day of India 2013

Message from H. E. Mr. Anil Wadhwa,
Ambassador of India to Thailand

On the occasion of the 66thanniversary of the Indian Independence Day, I extend my warm greetings and congratulations to all Indian nationals, persons of Indian origin in Thailand and readers of this esteemed publication.

India is one of the oldest civilizations, but a very young nation. We attained independence from colonial rule in 1947. The ideals and the values that guided our freedom movement, led by Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi became the cornerstone of the Independent Indian Republic. On this historic day, we pay homage to those who so selflessly and courageously fought for India’s freedom. We also remember with deep gratitude the brave guardians of our frontiers and our compatriots who have over the years sacrificed their lives for the safety and security of our nation. We re-dedicate ourselves to building a modern, vibrant India, and to serving our people and the larger cause of humanity.

In the last six and half decades, India has secured a unique and respected place in the comity of nations. The largest, most diverse democracy in the world, buttressed by a vibrant media and an independent judiciary, India is committed to tolerance, harmony, equality, justice, and the rule of law. India is plural, and pluralism is an integral part of Indian identity. Pluralism is an acknowledgment of diversity. In India, it is reflected in every aspect. Be it religion, language, ethnicity, political ideology, cuisine, or even geography - you will find a breathtaking diversity of all in India that co-exists peacefully.

India is a young nation, with more than 50% of our people being younger than 25 years. This provides a solid human resource base to power our growth and development. India has the second largest arable land area and is one of the largest food producers in the world. It is a software powerhouse and a global sourcing hub, especially for IT enabled services and business process outsourcing. Its prudently regulated and well capitalized banking system is among the most extensive in the world. The Indian economy, which is the world’s third largest economy by purchasing power parity, slowed down in recent past due to its increasing integration with the world economy. However, thanks to its innate resilience, derived from a strong domestic consumption base and stringent regulatory mechanisms, the impact has been moderate, and an early recovery is in sight. To put the growth back on track, Government has undertaken many bold policy reforms recently, such as opening up of the retail sector and aviation to FDI, and insurance and pension reforms. The National Manufacturing policy announced recently is meant to give a much needed boost to the manufacturing sector in India.

With a large middle class, dynamic and innovative entrepreneurs, plentiful scientific and technical manpower, diversified industrial base, and abundant raw material, India is an attractive business and investment destination. India is also a major source of investment abroad, in both developing and developed countries. Many Indian companies have reached out overseas, through cross border mergers and acquisitions or direct investments, so as to access high-growth markets, technologies and knowledge, attain economies of size and scale, and leverage international brand names. We acknowledge that the course we have charted so far has been not completely free of turbulences. The challenges of development and sheer pressure on resources pose problems for the Indian government and people. We seek inclusive growth that brings tangible benefits to all, as we invest in education, health and sanitation, care of the elderly and differently abled, employment generation, skill development and village modernization.

On the foreign policy front, India will continue to pursue its enlightened national interest, maintaining the strategic autonomy and independence in decision-making that has been its hallmark. Our overriding priority is to secure an atmosphere of peace and security in which India’s rapid economic transformation can proceed. India will work with other countries to tackle issues of common concern, such as international terrorism, the global economic crisis, climate change, energy security, food security, and the reform of multilateral institutions to reflect contemporary realities. India has consistently been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism and has always unequivocally condemned all forms and manifestations of that evil.

India and South-East Asia have a timeless thread of civilizational ties. People, ideas, trade, art and religions have long crisscrossed the region. This close, historical connect between India and South East Asia is the foundation stone on which our robust contemporary relations are taking shape today. India has built solid partnerships in the region, bilaterally and with ASEAN as a whole. We celebrated 20 years of this enhanced partnership last year with a special commemorative summit in New Delhi. A blueprint for a strategic partnership between India and ASEAN has now been laid down.

          India and Thailand, located in each other’s extended neighborhood, share a maritime boundary in the Andaman Sea. Our close ties with Thailand have grown stronger in the recent period. The momentum generated by the visit of Prime Minister Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra as Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day 2012 celebrations has continued with multifaceted engagement and people to people contacts. The successful visit of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Thailand in May 2013 saw widespread discussions on bilateral, regional and global issues of common interest. Prime Minister of India presented a sapling of the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya as a special gift to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej as a symbol of the shared cultural heritage between the two countries. During the visit, six agreements/MoUs were signed and the broad-based joint statement which was issued has provided guidance for further strengthening of bilateral relations.

Over the past few years, sustained high level interaction has provided significant fillip to bilateral relations. During 2013alone, from India,Minister of Defence A. K. Antony, Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region and Parliamentary Affairs Paban Singh Ghatowar, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Veerappa Moily, Minister of Water Resources Harish Rawat and Dr. D. Purandeswari, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry visited Thailand. From Thailand, Deputy Prime Minister& Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong,Minister of Industry PrasertBoonchaisuk and Minister of Science & Technology WoravatAuapinyakul visited India during the same period.

          Our bilateral trade crossedthe US$ 9 billion mark last year. The diversifying profile of our bilateral trade reflects the growth and maturity of our two economies. A comprehensive Free Trade Agreement on goods, services and investments, currently under negotiation and to be concluded soon, is envisaged to bring about greater benefits to both countries. Air connectivity between India and Thailand is growing with over 150 flights per week, reflecting a rapidly growing traffic of tourist and businesspersons between the two countries. With over one million Indian tourists visiting Thailand, India has emerged as one of the fastest growing tourist markets for Thailand.

          The Indian education sector continues to attract Thai students. While India provides over 130 scholarships for Thai students every year, a number of prestigious Indian universities and colleges welcome Thai students through direct admission. The Indian Cultural Centre in Bangkok has taken significant steps in promoting our shared heritage of art, dance and music.

We cooperate closely with Thailand in the ASEAN, East Asia Summit, BIMSTEC groupings, Mekong Ganga Cooperation and Asia Cooperation Dialogue as well as at multilateral forums.

The dynamic and lively Indian community in Thailand continues to play its part in the rapid evolution and upgradation of ties between the two countries. I am proud to represent this community in Thailand and would like to assure them of the embassy’s continued service to them for uplifting their image and in assisting them in every possible manner for the betterment of their quality of life.

On this joyful occasion, I would also like to express my best wishes for the continued good health and prosperity of His Majesty the King of Thailand, as well as the friendly people of Thailand.

Long live India-Thailand friendship! Jai Hind!