H. E. AHMAD JAVED
AMBASSADOR OF INDIA TO THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
On the occasion of the 72nd Independence Day of India, I extend my heartiest congratulations and felicitations to all my fellow countrymen residing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
2. I also avail this opportunity to thank the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince HRH Mohammad bin Salman for hosting a large Indian community in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and for their personal will and keenness to further expand and strengthen multi-faceted bilateral engagements with India.
3. On this historic day in 1947, India attained independence, breaking the shackles of colonialism. It is an occasion for us to pay our respect and homage to all the freedom fighters, who laid their lives in the struggle for independence of our motherland. This year also marks the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of Nation ‘Mahatma Gandhi’. The Embassy has planned a series of events to pay rich tribute by commemorating his teachings and ideas.
4. As we commence today the 72nd year of our Independence, we feel proud of our achievements in our Tryst with Destiny. India today is the largest, the most diverse and vibrant democracy of the world with over 1.3 Billion Indians marching ahead to build a better future and to fulfill their aspirations. Our economy has been growing at a pace of over 7 %; it has emerged as the fastest growing economy of the world and also the 6th largest economy in the world. India has shown remarkable progress in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ by leapfrogging 30 places.
5. The Government of India has initiated several flagship programmes to stimulate growth and to realize the full potential of the Indian economy. Among them are the Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Invest India and Smart Cities initiatives, which aim to raise the competitiveness of India's manufacturing sector by inviting top global companies to set up their manufacturing base in the country, connecting the nation through physical and digital infrastructure, and, creating global supply chains that tap into and radiate from the Indian economy.
6. We attach great significance to our friendly relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Our traditionally close ties are anchored in shared interests based on centuries-old economic and socio-cultural ties and vibrant people to people contacts. Our leadership has been working closely with the Saudi leadership towards further deepening our multifaceted ties for the common benefit of our two nations.
7. This year, India was privileged to be the ‘Guest of Honour’ at the prestigious Saudi National Festival of Heritage & Cultural - Janadriyah 2018. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Hon’ble External Affairs Minister of India Smt. Sushma Swaraj graced the inauguration of the India Pavilion on February 7, 2018, which was centre of attraction for millions of visitors. The participation of several Ministries, Government Agencies, top Indian business entities, States component, cultural performances etc. enabled the Saudi Nationals to have a glimpse of India without ‘visa’.
8. On the sidelines of Janadriyah, Hon’ble External Affairs Minister also called on the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and held bilateral meetings with his Saudi counterpart H.E. Adel Al-Jubeir and the National Guard Minister Prince Khaled bin Abdulaziz Al-Ayyaf.
9. The United Nations’ proclaimed 4th International Day of Yoga was celebrated on June 21, 2018 with enthusiasm and fervor in the prestigious Al-Madi Park of the King Abdulaziz Historical Centre, Riyadh with full support of the Saudi authorities. This marked the first celebration of Yoga in public domain in the Kingdom. The event witnessed huge participation from Saudis, diplomatic corps, officials, journalists, businessmen and Indian diaspora.
10. Economic ties constitute an important element of the India - Saudi Arabia Partnership. Saudi Arabia plays an important role in India's energy security as around 19% of our oil imports come from Saudi Arabia. The bilateral trade has witnessed a 9.56 % surge to US $ 27.48 billion in 2017-18, as compared to US $ 25.08 in 2016-17.
11. The successful completion of 12th Joint Commission Meeting in February 2018 has aligned the complementarities in the economic front and provides an impetus to boost the business and investment ties. Hon’ble Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley visited Riyadh on February 18-19, 2018 to co-chair the JCM with his Saudi counterpart Dr. Majed al Qassabi. On the sidelines, he also called on the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and held bilateral meetings with the Saudi Minister of Finance H.E. Mohammed al Jadaan, and Minister of Energy, Industry & Mineral Resources H. E. Khaled al Falih.
12. The opening of the office of Aramco Asia India Limited in India and Aramco’s participation along with ADNOC and the Indian Consortium in the USD 44 billion ‘Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemical Project Limited’ is expected to be an inflexion point to transform the existing buyer-seller relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership in the energy sector.
13. Saudi Arabia is home to over 3 million-strong Indian community, the largest Indian passport-holders abroad. It is a matter of great satisfaction that the contribution made by the Indians in the development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is well-acknowledged and appreciated by the Saudi leadership as well as its people. I express my sincere gratitude to the Kingdom for hosting this large Indian community and ensuring their safety and security.
14. The Hajj 2018 is approaching shortly. Over 175,000 Indian pilgrims will be performing the Hajj along-with millions of pilgrims from across the world. The Saudi authorities have left no stone unturned in ensuring a peaceful, secure and comfortable Hajj experience. I take this opportunity to wish the Saudi leadership great success in their noble endeavor and also appreciate and thank the Saudi authorities for the excellent services being extended by them to Haj and Umrah pilgrims from India.
15. Once again, I greet my fellow citizens in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on this occasion of the 72nd Independence Day of India. I am confident my fellow citizens, who consider the Kingdom their second home, will continue to work with diligence and dedication, making a valuable contribution to the India-Saudi Arabia bilateral relations.