Remarks by Mr Luwellyn Landers, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of the Independence Day of the Republic of India reception, 17 August 2015, Pretoria

Your Excellency, Ms R Ghanashyam, High Commissioner for the Republic of India to South Africa,
Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Other members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Celebrating the Independence Day of India is significant for all of us. As the world’s biggest democracy, it carries an immense importance and entails remembering and commemorating all that India has achieved and is set to achieve.

South Africa is also home to one of the largest Indian Diaspora communities in the world, and in many ways this day has special meaning and is celebrated throughout the country.

What has become a common fact of history is the historical bond between our two countries, spanning the Indian Ocean. The discussions between MK Gandhi and the founding fathers of the African National Congress (ANC) at the turn of the century, set out a radical political paradigm that was to transform the way liberation struggles were fought, and the principles and values that underpinned newly liberated states in Asia and Africa were to uphold. We are proud of the legacy and context and the fact that our two nations have played a key role in shaping each other’s destinies.

Therefore, 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 69th Anniversary of the Independence Day of India. 

Your Excellency

While this is a day of joy and festivity, we also express our sincerest condolences for the passing of Former President Dr Abdul Kalam, whose contribution to Indian society and scientific development is well known. Our thoughts are with his loved ones in this time of grief. 

Your Excellency

This year also marks 22 years of diplomatic relations between South Africa and India.  We have shared a historical and special relationship with India for decades and now those relations are maturing. Our level of economic interaction and engagement has been intense. In 2013, trade between South Africa and India was R80.8 billion, and in 2014 it reached R90 billion. The recently held 9th Joint Ministerial Commission that was co-chaired by Minister Swaraj and Minister Nkoana-Mashabane attests to this unique relationship and the clear commitment of our governments to further strengthen our political and economic interactions.  

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. Both countries have become prime tourism destinations for each other, and India remains the largest investor in South Africa from South Asia.

At a multilateral level, and being confronted by the challenges of development, our countries continue to cooperate together to address economic disparities affecting us all. We are committed to leave no stone unturned in our efforts to eradicate poverty and create jobs for our people.  As the world celebrates the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, we will continue to call for the reform of the global institutions of governance, and share our concerns about the need to redefine our approaches and redoubling our efforts to reaching the development goals the world has set for itself in 2000 to make it a better place for all to live in.

Your Excellency,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

South Africa and India have laid a solid foundation for working together in the important institutions and organisations and we shall continue our cooperation in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa); BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China); the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), the G77 and China, NAM and the G-20.

We look forward to the Third India-Africa Forum Summit that will be hosted by India in October this year, and which highlights the commitment that India has in its relations with our Continent. 

We congratulate India for all its achievements especially in maintaining unity, expanding its economy, and increasing its regional and global footprint, and wish you well in the years ahead as you continue to build a lively, vibrant and prosperous India. May I also congratulate you on the first International Yoga Day that was celebrated worldwide on 21 June.

What is clear and evident is that we continue to share in our common goals adopted in the spirit of the Red Fort Declaration which fell on the momentous occasion of the fiftieth year of India's independence. This spirit was and is based on a shared commitment for economic development, social justice and co-operation for a global order that is marked by peace, security and equity.

In conclusion, may I invite you, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, to raise your glasses and join me, 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 69th Anniversary of the Independence Day of the Republic of India.

I thank you for your kind attention.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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