About Us Speech by Ambassador on the occasion of Republic day

H.E. Dr. Željko Reiner, Deputy Speaker of the Croatian Parliament
H.E. Mr. Stjepan Mesic, former President of Croatia
Hon’ble State Secretaries
Hon’ble Mayors of Pag, Hvar and Deputy Mayor of Zagreb,
Diplomatic Colleagues,
Dear Guests and friends of India,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dobro vecher i Dobro Dosli!

My wife Ananya joins me in extending a very warm welcome to each and every one of you. We arrived in Croatia only a couple of months ago, and it is indeed a privilege to have you here tonight to celebrate this very special day. My special thanks to Dr. Rainer for agreeing to be the Guest of Honour.

As some of you are aware, after becoming independent in 1947, India declared herself to be a sovereign democratic republic on 26th January, 1950 by enacting a constitution. In fact, it has the distinction of being the world’s longest written constitution.

During the last seven decades, India has made enormous strides in achieving economic and social development for her citizens. Of course, challenges remain too, but it is on occasions such as today that we justifiably look back with pride at the path that we have traversed so far.

First and foremost, we remain proud of our democratic traditions and the strength of our institutions, be it the judiciary, the election commission, the union public service commission that recruits senior civil servants or the media, to name a few.

Socially and culturally, we take pride in the unity in our exceptional diversity, be it in religion, ethnicity, language or food. For example, our constitution recognizes 22 official languages.

Economically too, we have made excellent progress, particularly under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. We are now the fastest growing large economy in the world, and with a GDP of US$ 2.5 trillion in nominal terms, and nearly US$ 10 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. In the last four years, India has jumped 65 places in the global ranking of World Bank’s Doing Business Report, a unique record.

There are amazing and innovative transformations taking place in India. For example, 300 million new no-frills bank accounts have been opened in the last 4 years, 1.2 billion people now have biometric-based individual identity numbers, in a country where we do not have a unique national identity document, and these are being linked to the 1.2 billion mobile phones across the land. Last year, we also launched Ayushman Bharat, the world’s largest healthcare scheme, to provide affordable health insurance to 500 million Indians.

Another area I must mention is that of space exploration, to harness space technologies for our development. We now have end-to-end capabilities, in making and launching our own rockets and satellites. Thanks to our frugal engineering, we are extremely cost competitive and we have launched 239 satellites for other countries. Our mission to Mars was successful in its first attempt. We now have a new target – to launch an Indian into space from Indian soil on an Indian rocket by 2022.

Without delving any deeper into our achievements, let me now turn to the friendly relationship that we share with Croatia. Over the last few years, we have also added greater economic content to this relationship. Bilateral trade has trebled during the last decade. Indian investments in Croatia now generate jobs for more than 400 Croatians.

We are also glad that Croatian companies have made a beginning in investing in India. The Indian market presents excellent opportunities for Croatian companies, and I do hope more of them will take advantage of it, particularly through schemes such as “Make in India”, “Digital India” or “Smart Cities”.

We are excited that our bilateral relations continue to deepen. Last year was particularly eventful. We were delighted to receive in New Delhi H.E. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ms. Marija Pejcinovic Buric, the first such visit in many years. Both sides are now working to take forward agreements reached during the visit.

Croatia’s success in football World Cup has made it a household name in India, and last year more than 60,000 Indians visited Croatia. Celebration of International Day of Yoga in Croatia continues to grow in size as more and more Croatians embrace yoga. We look forward to expanding it even further this year. In fact, I was delighted to meet a Croatian national who has just gone to India to pursue a Ph.D in Yoga under one of our scholarships.

We are happy that the National Ayurveda Association of Croatia was empowered this year – this will help many here who are interested in this ancient Indian form of medicine. Interest in Hindi is growing rapidly, and we have a new Hindi Chair at the University of Zagreb. I must thank the many friends of India across Croatia, who have been our steadfast partners in our efforts to bring India closer to the Croatian people.

This year also marks the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of our Nation, the global icon of peace and non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi. It is also the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion. We propose to organize events across Croatia to celebrate these events.

Before I conclude, let me emphasize that in Croatia we see an old friend and a new partner for the future, particularly as Croatia looks outward towards Asia. I look forward to working with my Croatian friends to take our relationship to even greater heights.

Indija e Hrvatska zajedno rastemo.

Thank you.