Address by Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla,...
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Address by Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Ambassador of India
at a Reception on the occasion of the 65th  Republic Day of India
(Hotel Shangri-La – 28 January 2014)

Excellencies,
Representatives of the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this reception held on the occasion of the 65th Republic Day of India.

It is for me a singular honour to have been appointed the envoy of my government to the Kingdom of Thailand, a country with which we have traditionally enjoyed the closest of ties.  As some of our guests tonight would be aware, I arrived only last week to assume my post.  I consider it a privilege to commence my official duties with a celebration of our National Day.

On this occasion, I extend warm greetings and felicitations to all Indian nationals and persons of Indian origin in Thailand and my very best wishes to the friendly people of Thailand.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
On 26th January 1950, the Constitution of India came into force, securing justice, liberty and equality to all its citizens. Indians today are proud to be citizens of the largest, most diverse and vibrant democracy in the world.

India is in a period of exciting transition. A nation constituting one sixth of humanity is undergoing economic and social transformation on an extraordinary scale. It is taking place in a democratic and federal framework; in the midst of growing political pluralism and social diversity; and, in the context of continuing debate on equity, opportunity and sustainability.  What is being sought is inclusive growth that brings tangible benefits to all through investments in education, health and sanitation, employment generation, skills development and village modernization. Our large middle class, abundant scientific and technical manpower, innovative entrepreneurs, diversified industrial base, and plentiful raw materials, make India an attractive business and investment destination.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
India’s close and traditionally friendly relations with the Kingdom of Thailand draw its strength from common values of age-old social and cultural interaction. No visitor to this bustling city would miss the indelible imprint of our ancient links of civilization, culture and commerce. The timeless message of Lord Buddha and the shared lore of the Ramayana make us kindred in spirit. This close and historical connect between the two countries is the foundation stone on which our robust contemporary relations are taking shape today.

In the past two decades, with regular political exchanges, growing trade and investment, India’s ties with Thailand have evolved into a comprehensive partnership. India’s ‘Look East’ policy has been complemented by Thailand’s ‘Look West’ policy in bringing the two countries closer.

India attaches high priority to its relations with Thailand, a country with which we share common maritime boundaries. The visit of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Thailand in May 2013 and the visit of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to India in January 2012 as the Chief Guest of our Republic Day celebrations have given a new dynamism to our ties.  High level exchanges have provided a major fillip to our bilateral ties, and resulted in the conclusion of several agreements, re-energizing of institutional mechanisms and creation of new ones to achieve progress in key areas of cooperation such as trade and investments, security, defence, science & technology and education.  We look forward to continuing the momentum of such high level visits.

India and Thailand have strong economic synergies. Bilateral trade has increased manifold to cross the US $ 9 billion mark last year. The diversifying profile of our trade reflects the growth and maturity of our two economies. A comprehensive Free Trade Agreement on goods, services and investments, currently under negotiation, is envisaged to bring about greater benefits to both countries. In recent years, there has been significant growth in investments between the two countries.

People-to-people links are central to the relationship. With significant tourist flows between the two countries, Thailand has emerged as the most attractive destination for Indian tourists. There are over 160 flights a week between Bangkok and ten Indian cities, providing for excellent air connectivity, availed of by a million Indian and almost 100,000 Thai citizens. 

Education is an area of synergy between our two countries. The Indian education sector continues to attract Thai students.  A number of prestigious Indian universities and colleges encourage direct enrolment of Thai students in their academic programme.  To stimulate such exchanges, the Government of India offers over 130 scholarships to Thai students every year.

Over the past few years, the Indian Cultural Centre in Bangkok has taken significant steps to promote our shared heritage of art, dance and music. Various Indian Study Centers in prestigious Thai Universities are playing an important role in further strengthening contemporary links between our two countries.

India’s excellent relations with Thailand are an important and integral component of our relations with the ASEAN.  Thailand has facilitated India’s engagement with South East and East Asia and it remains a vital link in our strategic partnership with ASEAN. We are active partners in new areas such as science & technology, space, environment, agriculture and education. Both sides are keen to further strengthen the existing close cooperation in regional and multilateral fora.

The Indian community in Thailand has continued to make its impact felt in the burgeoning India-Thailand relationship. Through hard work, diligence and sincerity, this vibrant community has contributed significantly to the social and economic fabric of Thailand.   At the same time, their contribution to the rapid development of cooperative relations between India and Thailand cannot be underestimated.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I now propose to raise a toast after we have heard, first the Royal Anthem of Thailand and then, the National Anthem of India:

To the long life, health and happiness of His Majesty the King of Thailand and the Hon’ble President of India and to everlasting friendship between the Republic of India and the Kingdom of Thailand.

Thank you.

*****


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