Indian Ambassador to Viet Nam Ranjit Rae addresses the readers of Viet Nam News on the occasion of India's National Day on August 15
|Upon reflection: The Taj Mahal in Agra is widely recognised as the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the most universally admired masterpieces of world heritage. — File Photo
The year 2012 holds a special significance in the history of India-Viet Nam relations as it marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations and the 5th anniversary of our Strategic Partnership. It was on January 7, 1972 that India and Viet Nam upgraded their relations to ambassadorial level. To commemorate this occasion, the two countries are celebrating this year as the "Year of Friendship".
India and Viet Nam enjoy close and cordial relations. The sustained momentum of high-level visits from both sides has guided this relationship over the years. During the visit of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to India in 2007, the relations were upgraded to the level of a "Strategic Partnership". Last year, Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang made a very successful State visit to India. Several agreements and MoUs were signed during this visit, including the Extradition Treaty, MoU on the India-Viet Nam Friendship Year 2012, Agreement on Co-operation between Petrovietnam and OVL in the oil and gas sector, Work Plan for the years 2011-13 in the fields of agricultural and fishery research and education, Cultural Exchange Programme for the period 2011-14 and Protocol of Cultural Activities in the India-Viet Nam Friendship Year 2012. The 5th Foreign Office Consultations and the 2nd Strategic Dialogue at the vice-ministerial level were held in Ha Noi in August, 2011 followed by the 14th India-Viet Nam Joint Commission Meeting on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Co-operation with the participation of foreign ministers in September, 2011. Mr Nguyen Thien Nhan, deputy prime minister of Viet Nam led a 50-member delegation to India comprising senior officials from several ministries. The delegation discussed several new initiatives for bilateral co-operation, particularly in IT and hi-tech areas.
Commercial and investment relations form a key pillar of the "Strategic Partnership" between our two countries. Bilateral trade continues to grow rapidly and touched US$3.9 billion in 2011, an increase of 34 per cent over 2010. The two sides have set a target of bilateral trade at $7 billion by 2015. India has 82 projects in Viet Nam with a total investment capital of $806 million in sectors such as oil and gas, steel, spices, pharmaceuticals, edible oil, sugar, plastics, coffee and consumer products to name a few. There are about 35 representative offices of Indian pharmaceutical companies and about 50 other Indian representative offices in Viet Nam. Last year, several leading Indian enterprises marked their presence by acquiring stakes in Vietnamese companies. In April this year, a 50-member business delegation led by ASSOCHAM, a leading Indian business chamber, participated at the Viet Nam Expo in Ha Noi. Under the aegis of the Viet Nam-India Business Forum, the Embassy has organised business promotion seminars in various provinces in Viet Nam in association with the Viet Nam Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Cultural exchanges between the two countries have become more vibrant. The Embassy has organised international conferences on Buddhism and on Rabindranath Tagore to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of India's great poet and Nobel laureate. The Kalpana digital art exhibition and a joint workshop cum exhibition of painters from India and Viet Nam were held in April this year. In the month of May, we organised a seminar highlighting how the Cham Civilisation links India and Viet Nam with participation by scholars and experts from the two countries. India will also carry out a project for conservation and restoration of the Cham Monuments at My Son in Viet Nam under a grant of $3 million. We are in the process of opening an Indian Cultural Centre in Ha Noi to bring India's cultural traditions closer to the people of Viet Nam.
Co-operation in the field of education continues. The first meeting of the India-Viet Nam Joint Working Group on Educational Exchange was held in May, 2012 in New Delhi. The meeting discussed measures to strengthen co-operation in the field of education between the two countries. India will continue to support Viet Nam, as it has done over the years, in the field of education and capacity-building through training programmes and offer of scholarships for graduate and undergraduate courses. Indology and India-related studies in Viet Nam have received an impetus with the opening of the Institute for Indian and South-West Asian Studies under the aegis of the Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences. A short-term chair has also been set up on Indian Studies at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City.
Over the years, the friendship and co-operation between our countries, forged by our great leaders Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and President Ho Chi Minh, has grown from strength to strength for the benefit of our peoples and for peace and stability in our region and the world. — VNS