Ambassador Suchitra Durai's speech at the...
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Flag Hoisting Ceremony

on 15 August 2019 at Bangkok

Remarks by Ambassador Suchitra Durai

Deviyon aur sajjajon,

Bhaiyon aur bhahnon,

Bachchon

Namaskar, Sat Sri Akal, Salaam Alaikum, Sawadeeka, Good morning

My husband Amb Swaminathan, my colleagues and I would like to welcome all of you this morning on the 73nd Independence Day of India. It is my second flag hoisting event in Bangkok. Before I read Rashtrapatiji’s speech I would like to give you an overview of the state of India-Thailand relations and Mission’s achievements since we last met here on the occasion of the Republic Day celebrations.

India-Thailand relations are old and historic. They are multi-faceted. In recent years, the political interaction at the highest level has increased.

In 2018, our two PMs met thrice – in New Delhi, Kathmandu and in Singapore.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, a great friend of India, visited the states of Tripura and Manipur in November 2018.

We had several Ministerial visits including that of our beloved former EAM the late Sushma Swaraj in January, 2018. There were also return visits from Thailand.

India honoured His Holiness, the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand with Padma Shri Award in 2018.

The Presidential Award of Certificate of Honour was conferred upon Dr. Chirapat Prapandvidya from Thailand for his contribution to propagation of Sanskrit.

In 2019, the pace of our interaction is even higher as Thailand is the chair of ASEAN. Two weeks ago, Hon’ble EAM Dr S Jaishankar was in Bangkok to attend ASEAN related Ministerial meetings. He also had a detailed bilateral meeting with H.E FM Don Pramudwinai. Earlier, we had Foreign Office Consulations in March, 2018 for which Secretary East Smt Vijay Thakur Singh visited Bangkok. NSA Shri Ajit Doval was here for a BIMSTEC meeting in February, 2019. At the end of the year will be the East Asia Summit, for which we expect Hon’ble PM to lead the Indian delegation.

Defence cooperation is robust and we have service to service staff talks, training exchanges and joint exercises. Shortly two naval ships INS Sahyadri and INS Kiltan are expected to make a port call at Bangkok port.

Academic exchange is significant. There are five India studies centres in Thai universities. Recently, the first such centre outside of Bangkok, in Chiang Mai University was opened. We have two Indian chairs for Sanskrit and Hindi studies at Silpakorn and Thammasat universities. We are also establishing India Corners at several universities including those outside of Bangkok.

Bilateral trade in 2018 grew by about 20% and India’s exports to Thailand grew by 24.86% over the previous year. Thailand became the first ASEAN country to be a partner at the Vibrant Gujarat summit and a delegation led by then Acting Commerce Minister of Thailand participated in Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January 2019. We received several business delegations and organised several state focussed events. I am also happy to inform you that the first ever North East India festival to be held outside of India was held in Bangok in February, 2019 and was a big success.

Government of India continued to offer scholarships to Thailand under various schemes, including ITEC, General Scholarship Scheme (GSS), Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC), Hindi scholarship at the Kendriya Hindi Sansthan.

We greatly appreciate the vibrant Indian community for their wholehearted support to our initiatives. There was excellent turnout, as usual, for International Day of Yoga celebration in June 2019. This year we also organised a vegetarian food festival during the Yoga Day. We have also been organising a series of activities in connection with the on-going 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi – cycling and tree planting events were highly successful. We are also organising a series of events to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji. We flagged off the celebrations with a massive tree plantation event in Nakhon Ratchasima in which a large of Sikh community representatives participated. We are planning more events with the support of the Thai Sikh community.

People to People exchanges are key to our bilateral relations In fact, record levels of tourists from India are visiting Thailand. Last year 1.6 million Indian tourists visited Thailand. We are also looking forward to a reverse flow of Thai tourists.

Cultural exchange is on-going. The Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre, Bangkok organized various cultural programmes, which also includes regular yoga classes, Indian classical dances, Hindi and Sanskrit classes, etc. We are happy that a large number of our Thai friends are attending these classes. In addition, during the coronation related events, top level Indian troupes performed.

The Embassy’s consular work is closely monitored to give prompt service. We have put in place a grievance redressal mechanism, where every Monday from 10 to 11 am, an open house is conducted to hear problems being faced by our OCIs/NRIs. We are also conducting regular consular camps outside of Bangkok, We have started a new system of prison visits to ensure the well-being of all our Indian nationals. I am happy to infom you that we are disbursing a large number of grants from GOI in recognition of the good work being done by friendship societies and community associations. In addition, this year we are also happy to disburse grants to the Indian Association of Thailand and the Indian Social Club.

Thank You. Dhanyavaad.

Now, I shall proceed to read from Rashtrapatiji’s speech which was delivered last evening:

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