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Ambassador's speech on 71st Republic Day Reception at Gwangju

Posted on: February 13, 2020 | Back | Print

Ambassador’s Remarks on the occasion of India’s 71st Republic Day  

Gwangju, January 31, 2020

Your Excellency Mayor of Gwangju city LEE Yong-sup; 

Your Excellency Governor of Jeollanamdo Province KIM Yung-rok;

Your Excellency Ambassador for Public Diplomacy, MOFA, Amb Chang Jae-bok

Excellencies, distinguished fellow Ambassadors;

Friends from Korea and friends of India;

Indians in Korea

AnnyeongHasseubnikka. Namaste. 

On behalf of my colleagues at the Embassy of India in Seoul, I extend a very warm welcome to each and every one of you to our Republic day celebrations here in this beautiful and historic city of Gwangju. I am delighted that we are able to host this evening at the Kim Dae-jung Convention Centre. Given our shared commitment to democracy, this is fitting. 

Allow me to wish everyone a happy, healthy and successful year ahead. As we are still in the week of Seollal festivities, I can also wish all of you a happy new year of the white mouse. Sae-hae-bok-mani-badae-saeyo!

It is now 71 years since the people of India adopted, enacted and gave to themselves their Constitution. This was the second major milestone in our nation building process, the first being the achievement of independence on August 15, 1947. With the framing and adoption of the Constitution - and the birth of the Indian Republic - we embraced the spirit of liberty, equality and fraternity among all citizens, irrespective of religion, region or community. We are very glad to be celebrating this day with you today in Gwangju.

This has been an eventful and productive year for the friendship between the Government and people of India and the ROK. PM Modi paid a State visit in February and President Moon Jae-in was one of 6 world leaders invited to address a special event on Mahatma Gandhi organised by India and the UN at UNGA in September. India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh paid an official visit in September 2019. DAPA Minister visited India in April 2019. Other senior official, parliamentary and business delegations have been exchanged. We continue to work systematically to realise the elements of our Vision document on a future-oriented Special Strategic Partnership for People, Peace and Prosperity.  In this quest, we have been privileged to receive wholehearted cooperation from the officers of ROK MOFA. 

Commercial and economic ties constitute a strong pillar of our bilateral ties. We have been working hard to facilitate two-way trade and investment by encouraging more frequent and more diverse interaction between Indian and Korean businesses, academic institutions, local Governments. As a result, we have crossed USD 21 billion of bilateral trade and new investment in sectors like automobiles, food processing, textile and meditech etc. We have seen Air India start a new and hugely convenient direct flight on the Delhi-Seoul sector. We continue to engage in negotiations for an upgrade of our comprehensive economic partnership agreement, in the faith that much more can be done once a new mutually-beneficial new agreement is reached. 

Given the huge opportunities offered by the Indian economy, market, the talent and drive of the Indian and Korean people, the scope for beneficial collaboration is infinite. India's fast growing economy, backed by investor friendly policies of the Government of India, efforts to improve the ease of doing business and various central and provincial incentive packages for foreign investors, will no doubt be of immense interest to the Korean business community. I hope that the Embassy of India, Indian Chamber of Commerce in Korea and the Gwangju Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be able to build this bond. I appreciate the effort made by ICCK President MrSachinSatpute to join us here today and at the business event this morning.   

In this regard, I am especially delighted to be able to focus our attention on building our ties through engagement with the Government, people and institutions of the metropolitan city of Gwangju, the "City of Light", the city that has been at the vanguard of the Korean democracy movement. The May 18 uprising of 1980 has solidified its position as a city of democracy, human rights and peace. It is also at the lead of Korea's green movement and one of the main centres of Korea's important automobile industry as well as renewable energy industries, eco-friendly transportation & e-mobility and Fourth Industrial Revolution industries. I am grateful to the Government of Gwangju Metropolitan City for supporting us in this event today and to its visionary Mayor for gracing this event today. 

We also plan to deepen our relations with Jeollanam-do, a province whose strength in agricultural and marine, steel, shipbuilding and petrochemical industries offers opportunities for cooperation with Indian provinces with a similar profile. Jeollanam-do already has a sister state relationship with the Indian state of West Bengal and we would like to build on this. I am grateful to the Hon'ble Governor of Jeollanam-do for honoring us with his presence today.

I hope that this event today will encourage the people of Gwangju and Jeollanamdo to explore opportunities for cooperation with India and so boost India- Korea ties as a whole. In this, I also have faith that the Indian community here, primarily students, research scholars and academics at Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, Chonnam National University and Chosun University will play a leading role. I am so glad that we have been able to bring the Indian Embassy closer to you through our event today and look forward to remaining in close contact with you in the months to come. 

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge with gratitude the contribution of the Asia Culture Centre in fostering the cultural ties between Korea and India. Glimpses of Indian culture are presented to the citizens of Gwangju thanks to ACC's support in hosting our Sarang festival every year. We hope to further enhance this partnership in future.  My wholehearted thanks to President Lee Jin-sik and his team.

I end by once again conveying my special thanks to Mayor of Gwangju LEE Yong-seop and Governor KIM Yung-rok for their invaluable support to promoting the business and cultural linkages with India. I also thank the Ambassador for Public Relations for the trouble he has taken to travel from Seoul to be with us today. And I thank the Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic community who have expressed their country's love for India by making this trip to Gwangju.

For all their work in the year past and all the work we have lined up for ourselves in the year to come, I depend entirely on my young, energetic and committed team at the Embassy in Seoul.  Each and every person at the Embassy has worked tirelessly over the past few months and it is their faith and hard work that will allow us to press ahead on our challenging path. I also thank our dynamic Honorary Consul General in Busan for all his support to the Embassy's activities through the year.  I count on his continued support.

Thank you all for being with us today.

Gamsahamnida. 

Jai Hind!

January 31, 2020