By Roy Lie Atjam.
Republic day honours the day when the Constitution of India came into effect after gaining independence from the British rule, was January 26, 1950 when the Government of India Act was abolished and the Constitution of India came into effect. On this day India became a Federal, Democratic Republic. It for this reason that H.E.Venu Rajamony, Ambassador of India invited : Hon’ble President of the Senate Prof. Dr. Jan Anthonie Bruijn,
Ambassadors of different countries; dignitaries, friends to the Grote Kerk in the center of The Hague on 27 January 2020, to celebrate this momentous day with him. Special guest from India, Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi.
Republic Day is celebrated in New Delhi with a grand military parade, which starts at the Raisina Hill near the majestic Rashtrapati Bhawan, and continues along the Rajpath past India Gate.
The Prime Minister of India lays a floral wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti to honour the unknown soldiers. Then, the President’s Bodyguards on horseback escort the President of India to Rajpath where he joins other dignitaries to hoist the National flag. After, the National Anthem is sang and a 21 gun salute is sounded in honour of the flag.
During the military parade, the President, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, takes the salute.
In his welcome address Ambassador Rajamony touched on the rich history of the venue, De Grote Kerk. He stated, this historic church dates back to the fourteenth century. It has witnessed many important events including the marriages of Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik and Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard, as well as the baptism of Princess Beatrix and then Prince now King Willem-Alexander.
Considering the close connection the Church has with Dutch Royalty, we are happy to present this evening an exhibition on the recent State Visit to India by Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, which I hope all of you will enjoy.
Ambassador Rajamony went on with his welcome address by saying, a resume of his speech now follows. ” I am extremely happy to welcome all of you this evening for this Reception organized to mark the 71st Republic Day of India.
Mr President, it is a great privilege to have you amidst us today. You preside over a 205 year old institution which sits in one of the oldest Parliament buildings in the world still in use. You would be happy to know that the Republic Day marks the day the people of India adopted, enacted and gave unto themselves the Indian Constitution in the year 1950. India is popularly known as the world’s largest democracy and it is this Constitution which has made possible our parliamentary system. What we celebrate today is the fact that our country is governed by the rule of law with fundamental freedoms guaranteed for our citizens.
India is proud of her democracy. Over 670 million people voted in the election to our lower house of Parliament in May last year. At the same time, we are clear that the true meaning of democracy is not limited to the periodic conduct of elections. Democracy has to become a living reality for the 1.3 billion people of our diverse country which is home to every religion in the world, where 22 major languages are spoken and every state and region is an autonomous culture with its own traditions, dress and food habits.
The Preamble to our Constitution states that the purpose of the Republic is to secure for its citizens, social, economic and political justice; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; equality of status and opportunity and to promote amongst its people, fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and unity of the nation. I am happy in this context that joining us today is Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, a man who has devoted his entire life to fighting exploitation of children and campaigning for their rights. Mr. Satyarthi represents the best of Indian civil society and in a democratic society, civil society plays an extremely important role as a sentinel, watch dog and conscience keeper. India’s vibrant civil society adds lustre to our democracy.
Friends, we meet today amidst difficult times. Conflict and tensions rage in many parts of the world. Global economic growth has slowed down and trade tensions simmer. The havoc caused by recent bushfires in Australia is a dire warning to all of us about the dangerous effects of climate change. The whole world is watching with bated breath how far the Coronavirus will spread and how soon, it will be brought under control. No country is free from the dangers of extremism, radicalization and terrorism nor have we overcome hunger, intolerance, prejudice and exploitation of women and children.
Addressing global challenges requires determined collective efforts and greater international cooperation. In this regard, India-Netherlands relations stand out as a success story. Our ties have never been as good as they are now. The highly successful State Visit of Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima in October last year, took place in continuation of two visits to India by Prime Minister Mark Rutte in 2015 and 2018 and a visit to the Netherlands by Prime Minister Modi in 2017.
Their Majesties were accompanied on their visit to India by four ministers and a 250 member Trade Mission, one of the largest ever to go from the Netherlands to any foreign country. The Mission attended the first ever Technology Summit between India and the Netherlands and held wide ranging discussions with Indian counterparts across various sectors. High level exchanges in 2019 also included visits to the Netherlands by Chief Ministers of two important states of India, as well as our Foreign Minister.
A strong foundation for rapid progress in the coming years has been laid through these visits and interaction at various levels. The Netherlands has consistently been one of the largest investors in India and last year it was the third largest investor with investments of around US$ 3.87 billion. Indian companies are also investing in the Netherlands in a significant manner. Total investments from India in the Netherlands was estimated at over US$ 12 billion, as of March 2018. India sees the Netherlands as an economic powerhouse. Sectors like water management, agriculture, and the maritime sector where the Dutch have world class expertise are exactly the areas where our rapidly growing, 2.9 trillion dollar economy has maximum needs.
Ladies and gentlemen, on a personal note, this is the last Republic Day reception my wife and will host in the Netherlands. We are extremely grateful for the love and affection we have received in this country as well as the enthusiastic support for all our initiatives. It was a great honour to have my book on India and the Netherlands released at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam last September with His Majesty King Willem-Alexander receiving the first copy
Our outreach programme to schools disseminating the message of non-violence received great support. Further, I am grateful to C Post of Curacao for bringing out recently a special postage Stamp to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. India greatly values its ties with Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten on the far reaches of the Kingdom, where Indians and people of Indian origin form an important part of society and in particular, the business community.
Friends, if at all there is an area of tension between India and the Netherlands, it is only in the hockey field. I hope our Dutch friends will forgive us for beating them last week in the FIH Pro League Men’s Hockey Tournament in India.
Much has been accomplished and yet much remains to be done. There exists great scope for India and the Netherlands to work together in the coming days for mutual benefit and for building a world of our dreams, based on common values.
The great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, author of our national anthem and the first Asian to win a Nobel Prize for Literature, visited the Netherlands in 1920. He quickly acquired a fan following in this country for his poetry, as well as important message of an underlying unity amongst all religions. Thank you, Jai Hind.“
H.E.Venu Rajamony concluded his delivery by quoting a part of Rabindranath Tagore, poem.
Further on the program, The President of Senate in his speech praised India as the largest democracy in the world. He said that values of democracy, rule of law and pluralism are at the heart of Indian society and both India and the Netherlands share these values.
The Senate President said India has become a global player in information technology and Indian migrants to the Netherlands, which include students, entrepreneurs and IT professionals have doubled in numbers. He said that many innovations in the medical field are coming from India and there is a growing interest in traditional medicine system of India. He described the book India and the Netherlands- Past, Present and Future by Ambassador Venu Rajamony as a strong testimony to India-Netherlands friendship.
The program included a dance and vocal performances by Indian communities in The Netherlands. Zangam, a choir based in the Netherlands, rendered traditional Indian songs and Navrang, Sanskriti and Tandav Groups.