August 19, 2018

A Reception to mark India’s Republic Day 2018

By Roy Lie Atjam.

A reception to mark India’s Republic Day was hosted by H.E. Venu Rajamoni at the historic Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam on January 26, 2018. The Republic Day celebrations started on the morning of 26 January at the residence of Ambassador Venu Rajamoni with a flag hoisting ceremony, speeches and songs.

Republic Day or National Day is the day the people of India gave themselves the Constitution of India on January 26, 1950. In India Republic Day is celebrated with a dazzling parade at Rajpath in the capital New Delhi,i in the presence of foreign dignitaries. This year around the leaders of 10 ASEAN countries are the Chief Guests in the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi.

At the celebrations in Amsterdam, guest of honour was Ms Kajsa Ollongren, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior. Also Mr Jan van Zanen, Mayor of Utrecht, Ms Edith Schippers, Former Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports. As well as Ambassadors of various countries. The many guests were invited to attend the ongoing Exhibition ‘We have a Dream, Gandhi, King, Mandela’

A dance performance Ode to Mother India by Ms Kalpana Raghuraman, Anuradha Pancham and Indu Panday, was part of the magnificent program.

The guest of honour Minister Kajsa Ollongren, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, congratulated India and stressed to excellent friendly relationship between the Netherlands and India. Here is an extract of her speech:

Last year, we celebrated 70 years of bilateral relations. A significant milestone. And we’re delighted that our friendship with the Indian people and the Indian government has grown stronger. We share many of the same values, especially when it comes to rule of law, free democratic elections, peace and security. And we’re committed to the same national and international goals.

So I’m convinced that Dutch-Indian relations will soar to even greater heights in the future. Our countries also face similar challenges, relating to security, climate change, economic growth and sustainable development. And the only way of overcoming them is by working together. By sharing knowledge and experience.

In his welcome address H.E. Venu Rajamoni, Ambassador of India, made the following remarks:

Goedenavond dames en heren, excellenties; hartelijk welkom bij de viering; van de Dag van de Republiek

Permit me to extend a warm welcome to this reception in honour of India’s 69th Republic Day. I am grateful to all of you for having gathered here and I specially thank our Guest of Honour Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Hon’ble Mayor of Utrecht for their presence. Please give them a big round of applause.

The Indian Embassy is thankful to the National Foundation de Nieuwe Kerk for having provided this prestigious venue where the coronation of King Willem-Alexander as well as his marriage with Queen Maxima took place.

It is particularly appropriate that the celebration of India’s 69th Republic Day takes place amidst this wonderful exhibition “We have a dream – Gandhi, King and Mandela.” The Republic Day marks that day in 1950 when the people of India adopted, enacted and gave to ourselves the Constitution of India. And, the Indian Constitution fully enshrines the ideals that Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela stood for, struggled for and for whose achievement they dedicated their lives.

The Preamble to the Indian Constitution says ‘We’ the people of India have solemnly resolved to secure to all its citizens: Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote amongst them all Fraternity, assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.

India is today the third largest economy in the world in purchasing power parity terms with GDP of US$ 7.2 trillion. It is the fifth largest in nominal terms with a GDP of US$ 2.7 trillion. India is also a young nation with over 60% of our population under the age of 35.

Since 2014, India has seen a strong and stable government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiate a number of radical measures to reform the economy, accelerate growth and empower women and children. The Government has adopted a Goods and Services Tax which has unified our 1.3 billion people into one market for the first time. Improving the ease of doing business is one of the top priorities of the Government.

Last year, Tata Steel, the largest Indian company in the Netherlands, announced its merger with Germany’s Thyssen Group. The Headquarters of the merged company will remain the Netherlands. TCS, India’s biggest IT firm completed 25 years of operations in the Netherlands. One of our major producers and exporters of Basmati rice, LT Foods opened an ultra modern rice milling plant in Rotterdam. Similarly, Synthite, the world’s largest supplier of spice oils and oleoresins opened operations in the Food Valley, Wageningen.

Friends, 2018 promises to be an equally good year for India – Netherlands relations. Prime Minister Modi met Queen Maxima on the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos early this week. Discussions are underway to prepare for visits to India by Prime Minister Mark Rutte and by Queen Maxima in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate on Financial Inclusion.

Further, we hope to celebrate for the first time the International Yoga Day on the Museumplein of Amsterdam with mass yoga demonstrations and a wellness fair involving food, music and dance on June 17. I thank the City of Amsterdam for supporting this initiative and invite all of you to join us in making this event a huge success.

My focus on the positive does not mean I ignore the troubles that confront the world. We live in difficult times. Political, social, economic and environmental challenges confront all parts of the globe. Terrorism has left none of us untouched. The theme of the World Economic Forum this year is “Creating a shared future in a fractured world.”

In an address to the diplomatic community last week, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander called for united action by the international community to make the world a safer and better place in 2018. I conclude echoing his words and quoting few lines from India’s national poet, Rabindranath Tagore, whose poetry won him a Nobel Prize in 1913, making him the first Asian to win the prize.

I quote “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free Where the world has not been broken up into fragments By narrow domestic walls. End quote.

The poet wrote these lines as a prayer for India. Today, it is a prayer for the whole world. Let us work together to ensure that the world awakes into a heaven of freedom. As the ancients of India have taught – Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu – May the whole world enjoy peace and happiness. Thank you.

The spectacular evening concluded with a  Dinner and viewing of the Exhibition ‘We have a Dream, Gandhi, King, Mandela’

Indeed, Incredible India!

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