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Ambassador's Message on 74th Independence Day on August 15, 2020

Posted on: August 15, 2020 | Back | Print


Ambassador’s Message

On the 74th Independence Day of India

August 15, 2020

On the joyous occasion of the 74th Independence Day of India, I would like to extend my warm greetings and felicitations to all Indian citizens and Persons of Indian Origin in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

On this day, we pay homage to those who fought for India’s freedom with great courage and determination. We also remember with deep gratitude the brave guardians of our frontiers who have over the years sacrificed their lives for the safety and security of our motherland. We re-dedicate ourselves to building a modern, vibrant India, and to serving our people and the larger cause of humanity.

As a nation, we are proud of our exceptional pluralism, represented by an extraordinary mix of complex ethnic and linguistic groups and diversity of religions and customs and traditions. As an independent nation, India chose to adopt multi-party democracy as its model for governance and nation-building, providing citizens space to express their thoughts and pursue their dreams in the way they like.

Over the centuries the Indian civilization not only provided direction to all the convergent philosophies of the world but also helped in the evolution of new concepts and ideas. Indian culture and civilization continued to inspire the world throughout history. The renowned American philosopher and historian Will Durant defined India as “the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages” and the German Indologist Max Muller described India as “the country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow”, while the British historian E.P. Thompson considered India as “perhaps the most important country for the future of the world.”

Since 1947, India has stood as a beacon for the world, as an economic power that prides innovation, as a resilient democracy in the face of terror and as a strategic power that upholds international norms and believes in peaceful co-existence and equality of all nations.

India has a deep commitment to maintaining global peace and prosperity, ensuring sustainable development, and improving socio-economic equity. India has been elected to the United Nations Security Council at an important time when the United Nations is celebrating its 75th Anniversary. India is looking forward to playing a responsible role as a non-permanent member of the UNSC when its tenure begins from January 2021.

Friends,

The COVID-19 pandemic is the most severe crisis witnessed by humanity since the Spanish Flu of 1918. It has already affected over 20 million people globally, causing nearly 750,000 deaths. The socio-economic impact of the pandemic has been extremely severe and likely to remain so for a long time. The cumulative loss to global GDP is projected at around USD 12 trillion as most countries face sharp contractions in their economies.

Over the last six months, the world has been united in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. India has been actively engaging with the world to explore ways of overcoming the social, economic, and medical challenges posed by the pandemic and to share its best practices.

During the pandemic, India lived up to its role as a “pharmacy of the world” by making available over 500 million of HCQ and 620 million paracetamol tablets to over 60 countries across the world. In addition, India extended humanitarian relief comprising of life-saving drugs, antibiotics, medical consumables, and hospital equipment to several countries. India is now in the advanced stages of developing a vaccine for COVID-19 and human trials have begun.

The Government of India launched the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) in early May to repatriate stranded and distressed citizens from virtually every corner of the globe, bringing back a total of one million Indians in five phases. Here too, the Embassy was able to smoothly transport over 80,000 stranded Indian nationals back to the country. This was, perhaps, the biggest repatriation exercise undertaken by the Embassy in its history.

This complex process involved close and intense coordination between various agencies within India and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Saudi authorities, especially the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), without whose help it would not have been possible to undertake such a massive air operation.

I also sincerely thank all the community leaders and volunteers belonging to different organisations throughout the Kingdom who have worked tirelessly in supporting the Embassy’s efforts in the delivery of food supplies and medicines to the needy and in coordinating other welfare activities.

Domestically, we have seen very significant policy initiatives undertaken by the Government of India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a futuristic ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan’ or 'Self-Reliant India Mission' not only to make India self-reliant but also to provide viable alternatives for continuity of global supply chains using India’s advancement in technology, innovation, progress in domestic manufacturing capacity and the enhancement of skills of its young productive population. A huge stimulus package of nearly US$ 270 billion, equivalent to 10% of India’s GDP, was extended to reinvigorate the economy and protect the vulnerable sections of the society including small farmers, migrant workers, and labourers. In addition, the world’s largest food security programme was launched covering 800 million Indians.

Even during the pandemic, India attracted foreign investments of over US$20 billion between April and July, including an investment of US$1.5 billion made by Public Investment Fund (PIF) in June 2020 into Reliance’s Jio Platforms. India offers exceptional investment opportunities in agriculture, health, ICT, education, renewable energy, infrastructure, and defence sectors to name a few. India’s healthcare sector is growing at the rate of over 22% with emphasis on API, drug formulations, medical-technology, telemedicine, and diagnostics. Likewise, India's food processing sector is very promising and is expected to be worth over half a trillion dollars by 2025.

The recent announcement of the new National Education Policy in India is expected to bring in much-needed reforms in the field of education that will prepare our youth to face the challenges of the 21st century. For the first time, foreign universities would be able to open campuses in India, providing new vistas of international collaborations in this vital field.

The Kingdom’s emphasis on food security, coupled with its recent announcement of opening-up of health, water, and education sectors for privatisation provides an excellent opportunity for bilateral cooperation creating a win-win situation for both countries. India’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan’ can complement the Kingdom’s ‘Vision 2030’, as both lay emphasis on local manufacturing and enhancing domestic capacities.

The multifaceted and mutually beneficial strategic partnership between India and Saudi Arabia continues to flourish. Bilateral Trade was put at US$ 33 billion during FY 2019-20 with India’s exports to the Kingdom registering an increase of 13%, rising to US$ 6.2 billion from US$ 5.5 billion last year. India emerged as the second-largest trading partner of Saudi Arabia in 2019, a testimony to India’s favoured status as an economic partner of the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia continues to play a pivotal role as a reliable and long-term energy partner of India, supplying 18% of its crude oil and 30% of its LPG needs.

Mutual investments between the two countries have been increasing consistently. There are 476 Indian companies present in the Kingdom which have made investments to the tune of US$ 1.1 billion. Last year, the largest number of FDI licenses issued by the Saudi Ministry of Investment was to the Indian companies.

Important interactions between the leadership of the two countries have been taking place virtually, such as the G-20 Virtual Summit that was held in March. As part of the roll-out of the Strategic Partnership Council, the two sides held meetings under the Joint Working Groups of IT & technology, Agriculture & Food Security, and Energy & Industry. We are looking forward to the G-20 Summit in November and another round of high-level bilateral engagement on its margins.

I would like to acknowledge the enormous contribution made by the Indian community to the economic development of Saudi Arabia, and more so, for their patience and understanding during this difficult pandemic period. Their law-abiding nature has always come in for appreciation from the Saudi leadership.

I would like to avail of this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman for ensuring the welfare of all residents in the Kingdom, including 2.6 million Indians, during these testing times and for their strong support in elevating the bilateral relations between our two countries to the highest levels.

Long live the India-Saudi Relationship!

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