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Remarks by External Affairs Minister at the award ceremony for presenting ICCR’s Distinguished Alumni Award 2018

January 28, 2019

Awardees of the Distinguished Alumni Awards,
President, ICCR, Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe,
DG ICCR Smt. Riva Ganguly Das,
Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to you to the ICCR Distinguished Alumni Award ceremony. I would also like to congratulate all the distinguished awardees for their accomplishments,their extraordinary contributions in promoting Indian culture, and above all, strengthening bilateral relations between their countries and India.


The Distinguished Alumni Award is one of the most prestigious Awards given to the ICCR Alumni who have made significant mark in their fields of expertise in their countries. I am glad that Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) instituted this Award in 2015. Since then we have honoured 13 ICCR alumni. Today, we have the pleasure of awarding five more alumni from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Portugal and Vietnam. It is indeed a pleasure for me to have bestowed this award to these distinguished personalities since the first year of its institution.

I also want to congratulate ICCR forfulfilling my wish to develop A2A (Admissions to Alumni) scholarship portal, that creates the database of the ICCR students passing each year and enable maintaining contacts with its alumni, even when they leave the country after completion of their courses. We launched this portal last year in January 2018.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Education is the most precious possession one can have and the most invaluable gift to offer. As has been beautifully stated in this Sanskrit Shoka:

Which translates as:

"That which cannot be stolen, expands as it is given away, cannot be destroyed ever, can only be a gift of education and none else.”


Education in India, through these scholarships is a humble contribution of India to capacity building in your countries. Scholarship programme for foreign students has been one of the original mandates of ICCR since its inception. Subsequently, many schemes were launched by the MEA, which are also being administered by ICCR.

Today there are about 6000 foreign students studying in India under various scholarship schemes of ICCR and MEA. I am pleased to inform that the number of foreign students is increasing with every passing year.


The quest for knowledge has always been a fundamental of Indian culture and civilization. Since time immemorial, India has quenched the thirst for knowledge of inquisitive learners from all over the world.

With institutions like Nalanda, Taksh shila and Vikramshila, India had a well developed formal system of education from as early as 5th Century BC. These institutions formed the foundation for many other institutions in modern India and overseas as well.

India today has emerged as an educational hub, for students from all over the world. India has best of the institutions like IITs, IIMs, NITs and universities offering niche courses in space and bio technology, agriculture science, solar energy management, applied courses as hospitality management, film and textile technologies.

India also offers unique learning experience through courses in performing and visual arts under the Guru-Shishya traditions that it has preserved over centuries. We welcome more and more students to study in India. When foreign students come to India, they come as foreigners. But over time, they become our family.

They take back a bit of ‘India’ with them and work as the goodwill ambassadors of India. For India the whole world is one family and we nurture all our students – Indian or foreign – as our own students, with the spirit of ‘वसुधैवकुटुम्बकम्’ (the World is One Family).This is one of the unique aspects of studying in India.

While we embrace students from all over the world as our family, it is also a fact to be recognized that no task is difficult when there is a will and initiative to move ahead in life, which has been ably demonstrated by these awardees. They have imbibed the essence of what has been said in:

को अति भरह समर्थनम किम दुरम व्यवसयिनम्,
को विदेश सुविद्यनम कह परह प्रिय वदिनम

No task is impossible for a competent person,
No place is distant for a business-person,
No land is foreign for educated persons,
No one is stranger for persons with Sweet tongue

These awardees are examples of adapting well and emerging out as success stories for many more aspiring foreign students wishing to study in India.


Learning is not a unilateral process. It is a two way process, it is a process of mutual exchange of ideas. When we get students from foreign countries, they bring with them the rich culture and history of their country, andthis gives an opportunity to students from India to learn from them. This rich cultural exchange and cross-fertilization of ideas at the crucial years of education builds foundation of the global citizens and the future leaders.

This goes a long way in building stronger ties between India and the rest of the world. I feel that this process of ongoing cultural exchange should continue by sharing more about each other’s cultures.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Speaking of education and learning together, we must recognize that there are several issues today in the world which concern us equally, no matter which country we come from.

Matters related to

(i) climate change and environment protection for future generations;

(ii) matters related to world peace;

(iii) matters related to energy security and food security; and

(iv) matters related to equality among others.

When students from world over, study together and share the solutions found in their mutual experiences, together they contribute towards shared growth and development.

Today, unequal growth and threat to peace are some of the core factors of concerning world over. Education holds the key to address these matters together.

I am pleased to learn that in some way this could be inculcated in the students who spent crucial years of their education in India. It is a matter of great pride that ICCR alumni have emerged as solution providers in their respective countries.

I congratulate them once again and wish them the best in all their future endeavours.

In the end I would like to quote an ancient Indian shloka, which advocates the collective growth:

सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु
मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत्।

May All be happy,
May All be healthy
May All see what is auspicious,
May no one suffer.

Thank you all

New Delhi
January 28, 2019


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