‘Noble and just values of our Constitution more relevant in today’s world’

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ON the auspicious occasion of the 69th Republic Day of India, I extend my warm greetings and felicitations to all my fellow countrymen in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

On this day, in 1950, modern India was born with the adoption of a resilient and forward-looking Constitution. Our founding fathers had firm conviction that the Constitution protects the rights of all Indians, guarantees equality before law, encourages pluralist ethos, advocates tolerance and non-violence, and promotes goodwill among diverse communities. These everlasting noble and just values of our Constitution are more relevant in today’s world and have secured a unique and revered place for India in the Comity of Nations.

The strong institutions of democracy established by our founders have ensured over the past seven decades that India has emerged as an oasis of stability in the region. India is today the fastest growing amongst the major economies of the world; 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 established as a leading exporter of food commodities. The journey so far has been eventful, sometimes painful, but most of the times, exhilarating.

The government has undertaken several flagship initiatives to ensure a holistic development. It is notable that 17 goals adopted by the UN General Assembly are matched by the development vision of the Indian government. Under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Campaign), more than 400,000 toilets have been constructed in schools. The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Educate the Girl Child, Save the Girl Child) program has become a nation-wide mission. The Make in India brand is receiving international acclaim. Almost 250 million bank accounts have been opened for the poor people under the Jan Dhan Yojana, the largest financial inclusion program the world has ever seen. Digital India is transforming the country. Under the Skill India initiative, a number of programs are under way to enable youth to reap the demographic dividend. These initiatives have added a new dimension to India’s growth story, at the time of slow or nil global growth.

India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations reflecting the centuries old economic and socio-cultural ties. The bilateral ties have evolved and strengthened to a strategic partnership over the years encompassing the political-security cooperation, economic engagements and people-to-people exchanges. The historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in April 2016 gave a fillip to our growing engagements with the Kingdom, which has taken an upward strategic direction.

I am delighted to mention that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has accorded India the privilege of being the ‘Guest of Honor’ at the 32nd edition of “Janadriyah” — the annual Saudi National Heritage and Culture Festival — scheduled to be held for 18 days from Feb. 7, 2018. We are grateful to Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, and entire Saudi leadership for according this great honor to India.

The Kingdom has always taken cognizance of India’s historical socio-economic-cultural bonding with people in the Arabian Peninsula. The momentum of warmth and proximity in the bilateral engagement generated by the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Riyadh and his interactions with the entire Saudi leadership, during which he emphasized on upgrading the present Indo-Saudi Buyer-Seller relationship into a more comprehensive strategic partnership.

A High Level Ministerial delegation will be visiting Riyadh for the inaugural ceremony of the Festival. The Festival provides us an effective platform to showcase India’s growing economic might, industrial prowess and the magic of our cultural performances. Our participation in the Festival will cover 3 broad areas: (i) setting up of stalls inside a big covered hall called India Pavilion, with participation of various ministries and corporates to represent India’s economic and technological strength in a befitting manner; (ii) cultural performances reflecting classical and contemporary forms of dances, yoga as well as screening of films; and (iii) series of seminars and B2B interaction.

Saudi Arabia today is our 4th largest trade partner (after China, USA and UAE) and is a major source of energy as we import around 19% of our crude oil requirement from the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia is the 8th largest market in the world for Indian exports and is destination to more than 1.86% (2016-17) of India’s global exports. According to Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), there are 322 Indian companies as joint ventures / 100% owned entities with a total investment of $1.4 billion in Saudi Arabia. These licenses are for projects in diverse sectors such as management and consultancy services, construction projects, telecommunications, information technology, pharmaceuticals, etc. Several Indian companies have established collaborations with Saudi companies and are working in the Kingdom in the areas of designing, consultancy, financial services and software development.

The 3.2-million strong Indian community in Saudi Arabia is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom and is the ‘most preferred community’ due to their expertise, sense of discipline, law abiding and peace loving nature. The contribution made by Indian community to the development of Saudi Arabia is well acknowledged. During the 6-month amnesty period departure of around 75,000 Indian overstayers was smoothly arranged with the support of concerned Saudi authorities. The Embassy has an impressive community outreach program through consular tours, 24 x7 social media, Spandan-monthly e-newsletter, information booklet for volunteers etc. The Embassy of India has actively implemented the flagship programs of the Indian government Madad and E-migrate.

The Haj pilgrimage is another important component of bilateral interaction. During Haj 2018, around 175,000 Indians are expected to visit the Kingdom to perform Haj. A large number of Indians also visit the Kingdom to perform Umrah every year. I appreciate the elaborate arrangements made by the Saudi authorities to ensure the safety, security and comfort of the Indian pilgrims of Haj and Umrah. I am also thankful to the Saudi leadership for their overwhelming support in redressing the grievances of the Indian workers and repatriating them to their homeland whenever needed.

On this joyous occasion, I would also like to express my best wishes for the continued good health and prosperity of Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and the friendly people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

I take this opportunity, once again, to greet my fellow citizens in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on this occasion of the 69th Republic Day of India.

Jai Hind!

Ahmad Javed

Ambassador of India


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