Speech delivered by Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi on the occasion of the 68th Celebration for the Independence of the Republic of India
Your Excellency, Mr Virendra Gupta, High Commissioner for the Republic of India to South Africa, and Madame Veena Gupta,
Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Other members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government and people of South Africa, it is my honour to extend to the Government and people of India, our congratulations on the celebration of the 68th Anniversary of the Independence Day of India.
This commemoration of India’s Independence Day stands out for a number of reasons. Sixty-eight years is a long time and for the world’s largest democracy, this acquires a very special significance.
This year also marks 20 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries, and importantly, the commemoration of the centenary of Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa.
These historic milestones find resonance in the countrywide, impressive Festival of India, which also, poignantly honours Nelson Mandela at the same time.
I would encourage the Excellencies and ladies and gentlemen gathered here today, to enquire about the programme, and go to some of the events.
While we celebrate, we must also, and unfortunately so, prepare to bid you farewell, as you have reached the end of your tenure here in South Africa and will soon leave us. We trust that you would take with you a collection of cherished memories, and we wish you and your family the best with the plans that you have made for your future.
Variously, we have had cause to recall that Incredible India is a country with a long history and a civilisation that span thousands and thousands of years, and as South Africans, we are privileged to share a historical and special relationship with India.
This relationship has been forged through a long, shared history of the struggle for freedom, dignity, justice and equality, and as we rejoice in celebrating our 20 years of freedom in 2014, we know that it came with the support and selfless sacrifice of people in India and across the world.
Our level of interaction and engagement has been intense and growth in our trade, investment and tourism figures is continuous and laudable.
In 2012, trade between South Africa and India was more than R60 billion, and in 2013 it reached R80,8 billion. Both countries have become prime tourism destinations for each other, and India remains the largest investor in South Africa from South Asia.
Trade and investment flows between our two countries cover a wide range of sectors including financial services, mining, minerals, energy, pharmaceuticals, auto components, manufacturing, tourism, film, and ICT.
As with all good stories, there is always room for improvement and I believe that there are still many opportunities that both countries could and should exploit further.
At a multilateral level, South Africa and India together with the entire family of developing nations, cooperate together to address the challenges of development facing our peoples and countries.
We have committed ourselves to work with our partners in the South and in the North to address the need to reform the global institutions of governance, namely the United Nations in general, and the United Nations Security Council in particular, as well as the IMF and the World Bank.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
South Africa and India have laid a solid foundation for working together in the important institutions and organisations of the South.
We shall continue to work together in institutions such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa); BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China – a climate change-specific forum); the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA); the G-20 and the India-Africa Forum.
In conclusion, may I invite you, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, to raise your glasses and join me, and, on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa, to extend to His Excellency, President Pranab Mukherjee and the People of India,
our warmest congratulations and best wishes for the prosperity and progress of the People of India, as we celebrate the 68th Anniversary of the Independence Day of the Republic of India.
I thank you for your kind attention.