Ambassador's Speech on the Occasion of Commemoration of
the 41th Anniversary of Establishment of Diplomatic Relation between India and Vietnam
by the Vietnam-India Friendship Association 6th January 2016.
H. E. Mr. Truong Minh Tuan, President of the Vietnam-India Friendship Association,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be present here today for the commemoration of the 45th anniversary of establishment of Vietnam India Diplomatic Relations. I would particularly like to thank the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations and to thank Vietnam-India Friendship Association and its many chapters in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other provinces and cities of Vietnam for being true Ambassadors of India and Indian culture and for celebrating this historic milestone today.
India values its relations with Vietnam. Our shared values and aspirations form the basis of our relations. It is said our relations are as blue as the clear sky without any clouds. Today, we can look forward towards the future with confidence.
On 7th January, 1972 diplomatic relations were formally established between Vietnam and lndia. Our close relations have their roots in our national struggle for freedom led by our founding Tathers, Mahatma Gandhi and President Ho Chi Minh. Uncle Ho and Chacha Nehru (Uncle Nehru in Hindi) had deep affection and respect for each other. As President Ho Chi Minh wrote in his Prison Dìary in 1942-42 addressed “To Nehru”:
“Ten thousand miles apart, we have not met
We communicate without words
Shared ideas link you and me
What we lack is personal encounter.”
That personal encounter took place a decade later and Prime Minister Nehru was the first foreign leader to personally visit Vietnam and congratulate its leaders one week after the great victory at Dien Bien Phu in October 1954. The friendship and solidarity between our peoples has been steadfast during the period of Vietnam’s national struggle for independence, the heroic effort at national reunification and today’s phase of national reconstruction. Our relations, however, are civilizational that span over 2000 years, and the advent of Buddhism from India to Vietnam and the remnants of the Hindu Cham civilization stand testimony to this.
2016 was memorable for a historic and successful visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Vietnam, the first visit of our Prime Minister in 15 years. Addressing around 800 Buddhist monks and nuns at the Quan Su Pagoda he said: “Many people came to Vietnam from around the world over the centuries. While some came to wage war, India had come with the message of peace — the message of Buddha. The messengers of war and violence have no trace left whereas the messengers of peace and of Buddha have endured to this day”. Our monks and traders have interacted over the centuries and such cultural exchanges have left a deep imprint on our daily lives to this day.
Ours is a friendship that has blossomed and matured over time. We have stood by each other in difficult times. As we celebrate this year the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of establishment of the Strategic Partnership between our two countries, we have truly entered a new phase in our relationship marked by deep trust, mutual understanding and abiding friendship.
Our Strategic Partnership today is comprehensive encompassing defence and security cooperation in all its dimensions, broad-based economic engagement, scientific and technological cooperation, human resource development and training and cultural outreach and cooperation. Our leaderships firmly believe that this partnership will significantly contribute to greater regional stability and growth and would be in our mutual interest.
When our Prime Ministers met in September last year, they decided that even while we promote our comprehensive cooperation in all areas, trade and commerce should become our strategic priority. There are several complementarities in these areas and we see immense potential, particularly in promoting oil and gas, energy and renewable energy, energy conservation technologies, infrastructure, garments and textiles, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, telecommunication and information technology.
Cultural cooperation and outreach is an important area of focus for us. In 2017, Viet Jet would be starting direct flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to Bodh Gaya and other cities. This will give a major boost to our bilateral trade and investment, tourism and people — to people contacts.
The newly opened Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) in Hanoi would enable the people of Vietnam to get easy access to information on culture and tourism of India, and would also serve as a showcase of Indian culture and performing arts. We are already successfully conducting classical dance, music and yoga classes in the ICC. The library at the center is open to public giving them access to various volumes of select lndian literature and books. We would soon be expanding our activities to have exhibitions and other cultural programs and events at the center.
The Indian Embassy also gives out numerous scholarships to Vietnamese citizens especially under the lndian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme. Presently, 150 ITEC slots are being offered to Vietnam every year along with 16 scholarships under the General Cultural Scholarship Scheme (GCSS), 14 scholarships under the Educational Exchange Programme (EEP) and 10 scholarships under the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) Scholarship Scheme.
We also look forward to the Archaeological Survey of India implementing in the near future the Memorandum of Understanding on Conservation and Restoration of Cham monuments at My Son.
We are immensely moved by the warmth and affection of the Vietnamese people towards India, and the various programs undertaken are our small contribution to strengthen bonds of fratemity between our peoples.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank H.E. Truong Minh Tuan Chairman of VIFA and VIFA for forging greater cultural and people - to — people contacts betvveen our two countries. I look forward to vvorking very closely with the Vietnam — India Friendship Association in further enhancing this friendship in 2017.
Today I am reminded of the words of Nobel laureate and the immortal poet Rabindranath Tagore, who during his visit to Vietnam in 1929 said: “The heart of India had once beaten under a sunny sky on the shore”. Indeed, it holds true to this day.
I take this opportunity to wish all of you a very happy New Year in this Year of the Rooster. May the New Year bring joy, cheer, happiness and prosperity to you, your friends and family.