Brightening prospects embellish India’s Republic Day celebrations



India’s High Commissioner Neeta Bhushan with (from left) Sagar Gupta, Praveen Kumar Sharma, Durga Dass, Professor Jay Shaw, Anurag Bhushan, Mukesh Ghiya, Manoj Kumar Sahu, Ishant Ghulyani, Ashish Bhurwal, Shyam Agarwal and Gaurav Kumar at the 74th Republic Day Celebrations of India held at the Indian High Commission, Wellington on January 26, 2023 (Ruchika Jain Photography)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, January 29, 2023

Progressive policies and programmes to improve the standard of living of people, renewable energy for infrastructure projects and impressive strides in space technology with the ‘Gaganyaan Programme’ (human spaceflight capability) are among the factors that are defining India’s status as a major world power.

These also formed the essence of the address by India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand Neeta Bhushan at the 74th Republic Day (and 73rd Anniversary) Celebrations held at the new High Commission Complex in Pipitea, Wellington on Thursday, January 26, 2023.

New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Deputy Secretary (Americas and Asia) Deborah Geels was the Chief Guest at the event, which was attended by more than 300 people.

Among whom were Deputy Speaker of the House Greg O’Connor, former Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand, Member of Parliament Vanushi Walters (Labour), former Member of Parliament Mahesh Bindra (New Zealand First), officers of the New Zealand Defence Force, diplomats, entrepreneurs, professionals and community leaders.

It was a pleasure to meet Anurag Bhushan, Joint Secretary, Overseas Indian Affairs (Division I) who is visiting New Zealand.

India’s High Commissioner Neeta Bhushan speaking at the 74th Republic Day Celebrations, accompanied by New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Deputy Secretary (Americas and Asia) Deborah Geels at the Indian High Commission Cultural Centre in Wellington on January 26, 2023 (Ruchika Jain Photography)

Ms Bhushan succinctly described the progress of India on many fronts in her brief address.

“Whether it is Information Technology, Telecom or Digitalisation, India has been making numerous advances. Our Renewable Energy as well as the Infrastructure sector have been moving at a fast pace. India has been among the pioneers in space technology. The Gaganyaan Programme to carry Indian astronauts into space is in progress. This will be India’s maiden human space flight,” she said.

The Gaganyaan Programme

The Gaganyaan Project will demonstrate human spaceflight capability.

Developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation, the spacecraft, with three astronauts on board, will be launched to an orbit of 400 km on a three-day mission and bring them back safely to earth, by landing in Indian sea waters.

Gaganyaan is being developed through in-house expertise and experience of the Indian industry,

intellectual capabilities of Indian academia and research institutions and the cutting-edge technologies of international agencies.

The mission will account for many critical technologies including a human-rated launch vehicle to carry the crew safely to space, a Life Support System that will provide an ‘earthly environment’ to the crew, emergency escape provision and training, recovery and rehabilitation.

The World’s Pharmacy

India has been described as the ‘Pharmacy of the World,’ Ms Bhushan said and cited the reasons for such a declaration.

“During Covid times, we supplied medicines and medical equipment to more than 150 countries. Similarly, under our Vaccine Maitri initiative, we supplied India-made vaccines to many countries around the world,” she said.

Vaccine Maitri (Vaccine Friendship) is a humanitarian initiative of the Indian government and has thus far accounted for more than 163 million doses to about 100 countries, a significant percentage of which was free. The United Kingdom, Canada and Saudi Arabia purchased Indian vaccines for their use.

India’s High Commissioner Neeta Bhushan with (from left) Vanisa Dhiru, Superintendent Rakesh Naidoo, Anurag Bhushan and Mahesh Bindra at the 74th Republic Day Celebrations of India held at the Indian High Commission Wellington on January 26, 2023 (Ruchika Jain Photography)

Economic resilience

Ms Bhushan said that the Indian economy has shown tremendous resilience.

“The forecast is that we will continue to grow at the rate of 6% to 8% this year as well as in the coming years. This year, India holds the Presidency of G-20 under the theme, One Earth, One Family, One Future,” she said.

World Bank’s Country Director for India Auguste Tano Kouame said that the Bank has revised its 2022-2023 economic forecast for India upward to 6.9% following a strong overturn in the second quarter (July-September 2022) of the current financial year.

“India’s economy has been remarkably resilient to the deteriorating external environment and strong macroeconomic fundamentals have placed it in good stead compared to other emerging economies,” he said in his Annual Review.

The Mother of Democracy

Ms Bhushan said that India is home to one of the oldest living civilisations.

“India is called the ‘Mother of Democracy.’ The essence of this democracy is enshrined in our Constitution which came into force on 26 January 1950. In the last more than seven-and-half decades, we have made very significant and encouraging progress on many fronts,” she said.

In an article to commemorate the 74th Republic Day, Ashok Sajjanhar, a retired Officer of the Indian Foreign Service said that India’s assumption of the G20 Presidency has decisively signalled its emergence as a significant player on the global stage.

“While most countries in the world, both developed and developing, have found it difficult to effectively handle the challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, India, through its bold leadership and prudent policies, has been able to successfully navigate the headwinds it has encountered over the last three years,” he said.

Ishant Ghulyani was the Master of Ceremonies at the 74th Republic Day Celebrations of India held at the Indian High Commission Wellington on January 26, 2023 (Ruchika Jain Photography)

The G20 is an international forum which represents the world’s biggest economies encompassing both industrialised and developing nations. Its mandate is to address the major challenges faced by the global economy, developmental issues and financial architecture, such as international financial stability, climate change mitigation and sustainable development.

Former High Commissioner of India to New Zealand Muktesh Pardeshi is the Secretary at the G20 Division of the External Affairs Ministry In New Delhi.

India-New Zealand Relations

Describing the relations between India and New Zealand as ‘warm and friendly,’ Ms Bhushan said that 2022 marked 70 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

“We have strong historical, cultural, sports and people-to-people ties. In the last several months, a number of high-level exchanges have taken place, further strengthening our partnership,” she said and cited the visit of Customs, Food Safety and Veterans Minister Meka Whaitiri (to address the World Dairy Summit) and Agriculture and Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor (bilateral visit) in September 2022 and the visit of External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to New Zealand in October 2022 as examples.

“In addition, there has been an increase in visits of business delegations, tourists and cultural groups, enhancing our cooperation. Last year, this new building was inaugurated. This is truly a symbol of India-New Zealand friendship and a tribute to the Indian Diaspora which acts as a living bridge between our two countries,” Ms Bhushan said.

In her speech, Ms Geels outlined the growing relationship between New Zealand and India and said that there was high potential to take It to further heights.

Among the highlights of the event were the cultural performances of local schools that teach and train residents in various forms of Indian classical dances.

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