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Remarks by External Affairs Minister at the Inauguration of India-Africa Friendship Rose garden ( October 25, 2015)

October 25, 2015

Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi, Shri Arvind Kejriwalji;
Hon’ble Foreign Minister of Madagascar, Her Excellency Mrs. Beatrice Atallah;
Dean of African Corps in New Delhi and Ambassador of Ethiopia, Her Excellency Gennet Zewide;
My Colleague in Lok Sabha, Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi;
Ambassador and other distinguished guests from African countries;

Ladies and Gentlemen;


We have interacted many times at diplomatic and political forums at various global platforms but today is a different and beautiful day where we have the opportunity to interact in an informal and friendly gathering.

Friends,

Flowers signify love, dedication, friendship and brotherhood. So we chose to build Friendship Rose garden to symbolise India Africa Friendship which in coming years is going to blossom like the flowers of this garden. The fragrance of the roses from this Friendship Garden won’t be limited to any boundaries, it will cross the oceans to spread the message of love and solidarity.

Indian Philosophy believes that – distance does not dissolve true friendship. And this proves to be true for us as well. Distance had never been the definition of our friendship which is old, unique and strong. The Indian Ocean undoubtedly separates us but people on both sides have always found ways to defy geography and establish contacts over the centuries.

Trade between India and Africa has a long and distinguished history. It goes back to the days when Indian traders, using the seasonal monsoon winds, sailed to the East coast of Africa in search of mangrove poles, elephant tusks, and gold and gemstones that made their way up from what is now Zimbabwe.

Our relationship is distinctive and owes its origin to a common past that we share, a past which witnessed struggle against colonialism and social evils like poverty and illiteracy. India considers Africa as part of its extended neighbourhood.

Our partnership with Africa is unique and dates back to our civilizational contacts through ancient seafarers, traders, intellectuals and monks. Today as one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, India is attaching the utmost importance to its economic engagement with the African countries.

Excellencies,

India have always worked on the philosophy of "Vasudhev Kutumbkam” meaning the world is our family but it is quite admirable to see that Africa has also lived this philosophy in its true spirit. Many African countries are now home to Indian people. Not only the continent has accepted Indians in their fold but has also given them a sense of belonging and identity.

The African continent and India are tied together in varied ways. Of them, one is the philosophy of Gandhi and Mandela. Both led their respective nations to freedom through their humanitarian principles and philosophy. They were subjected to imprisonment during the course of their political career.

Mandela acknowledged his achievements to the influence of Gandhi’s ideals and principles on his movement, career, and life. In a message, he said, "India is the Mahatma’s country of birth; South Africa is his country of adoption”.

Africa, the "cradle of human civilization" and India, the "ancient civilization" - both have their uniqueness and at the same time similarities in: historical experiences, goals, visions and hurdles. The regions share a common commitment to the ideals of peace, non-alignment and economic justice.

Excellencies,

India and Africa have nurtured mutuality of worldviews and interests through century-long engagements. Our relationship, driven by new imperatives of globalisation, has witnessed steady expansion. Over the years, it has acquired momentum through a series of policy interventions.

Today, with substantial trade and investments, Africa is a frontier of new opportunities. We are interested in Africa’s economic growth and its integration with global economy. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you for the 3rd India Africa Forum Summit which is going to witness the largest gathering of African leaders outside Africa and we, as proud hosts, extend them a warm welcome to Delhi.

Delhi, the capital of India reflects our cultural diversity. It is an amalgamation of tradition and modernism. It is not just a city but the heart and soul of India where the diversity of India is best seen. It is home to people from every part of India and as always, it welcomes everyone with open arms. I hope and wish that the African Guests will enjoy their stay in Delhi during the Summit which will certainly be a landmark in our friendly engagement.

In India, we say that there will be no end to conversations with friends and physicians. But I have to stop here to invite all of you to plant rose saplings in this garden, which for generations to come will remind of this beautiful day when the foundation of trust and solidarity was laid.

Thank you.
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