Author: Ahmad JavedID: 1534285329685458500Wed, 2018-08-15 01:21

RIYADH: 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.
I also avail this opportunity to thank King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for hosting a large Indian community in Saudi Arabia and for their personal will and keenness to further expand and strengthen multifaceted bilateral engagements with India.
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.
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 percent; it has emerged as the fastest growing economy of the world and also the sixth largest economy in the world. India has shown remarkable progress in the World Banks “Ease of Doing Business” by leapfrogging 30 places.
The government of India has initiated several flagship programs 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 Indias 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.
We attach great significance to our friendly relations with 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 toward further deepening our multifaceted ties for the common benefit of our two nations.
This year, India was privileged to be the “Guest of Honor” at the prestigious Saudi National Festival of Heritage & Culture (Janadriyah 2018). King Salman and Indias External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj graced the inauguration of the India Pavilion on Feb. 7, 2018, which was a center of attraction for millions of visitors. The participation of several ministries, government agencies, top Indian business entities, cultural performances, etc. enabled the Saudi nationals to have a glimpse of India.
On the sidelines of Janadriyah, Indias external affairs minister also called on King Salman and held bilateral meetings with her Saudi counterpart, Adel Al-Jubeir, and National Guard Minister Prince Khaled bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ayyaf.
The UN-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 Abdul Aziz Historical Center in Riyadh with full support of the Saudi authorities. This marked the first celebration of yoga in a public domain in the Kingdom. The event witnessed huge participation from Saudis, diplomatic corps, officials, journalists, businessmen and the Indian diaspora.
Economic ties constitute an important element of the India-Saudi partnership. Saudi Arabia plays an important role in Indias energy security as around 19 percent of our oil imports come from Saudi Arabia. The bilateral trade has witnessed a 9.56 percent surge to $27.48 billion in 2017-18, as compared to $25.08 in 2016-17.
The successful completion of 12th Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) in February 2018 has aligned the complementarities on the economic front and provided an impetus to boost the business and investment ties. Indias Finance Minister Arun Jaitley visited Riyadh on Feb. 18-19, 2018, to co-chair the JCM with his Saudi counterpart Dr. Majed Al-Qassabi. On the sidelines, he also called on King Salman and held bilateral meetings with Saudi Arabias Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan, and Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih.
The opening of the office of Aramco Asia India Limited in India and Saudi Aramcos participation along with ADNOC and the Indian consortium in the $44 billion Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemical Project Limited is expected to be an inflection point to transform the existing buyer-seller relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership in the energy sector.
Saudi Arabia is home to an over three-million-strong Indian community, the largest Indian passport holders abroad. It is a matter of great satisfaction that the contribution made by Indians in the development 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.
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 Hajj and Umrah pilgrims from India.
Once again, I greet my fellow citizens in 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.

Ahmad Javed is the ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia.

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