A 60-year-old Bodhi Tree at the ancient Trấn Quốc Pagoda. It was brought by the first President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad during his visit to Việt Nam in March, 1959. Photo courtesy of the embassy
India celebrates its 73rd Independence Day today (August 15). Ambassador of India Pranay Verma sends a message to Việt Nam News readers to celebrate this anniversary and start his term in Việt Nam.
On this day in 1947, people of India had a long-cherished tryst with destiny, gaining freedom after a century of struggle against colonial rule.
The year marks many anniversaries including the 150th birth anniversary of India’s Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. As we celebrate our independence, we remember his ideals and struggles which inspired the freedom movements not only in India but across the world, including the freedom struggle of Việt Nam led by President Hồ Chí Minh.
This year is also the 90th anniversary of the visit of Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore, the poet laureate and author of India’s National Anthem, to HCM City in 1929.
When India’s first President Dr Rajendra Prasad visited Việt Nam in 1959, together with President Hồ, he planted at Trấn Quốc Pagoda a sapling of the Bodhi Tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya. Today that sapling celebrates 60 glorious years in the heart of Hà Nội, blooming into an icon of millennia-old cultural and civilisational connection between India and Việt Nam.
Over the decades, India and Việt Nam have built a truly special relationship, marked by deep mutual trust and understanding and a strong bond of friendship between their leaders and peoples. Both have stood by each other in adversities and supported each other’s aspirations.
Today, India-Việt Nam relations are characterised as a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’, showcasing the depth and breadth of their multifaceted engagement, covering trade and investment; energy; defence and security; development partnership; culture; and people-to-people exchanges. A series of mutual visits by their top leaders has been constantly adding new substance and momentum to this special partnership.
Today, both India and Việt Nam are among the fastest growing economies in the world. Our bilateral trade has doubled in the last three years alone, reaching close to US$14 billion. We are well on our way to achieving the trade target set by our leaders of US$15 billion by 2020.
Business and industries on both sides are excited about opportunities that our growing markets offer to each other. New partnerships are being forged in emerging sectors of industry, especially in the services sector, communication and information technology, renewable energy, scientific research, technological development and innovation.
Young demographic profiles of both countries will ensure that their aspirational youths derive maximum benefits from sustained cooperation in these diverse sectors.
India’s development partnership in Việt Nam over the last four and half decades has left a successful legacy of institution-building and human resource development. We are proud of the contributions made by these institutions and trained professionals in the rapid development of Việt Nam, especially in the fields of agriculture and food security, engineering and industry, and public administration.
Việt Nam is pivotal to India’s Act East Policy and its Indo-Pacific vision. Việt Nam is also an invaluable link in India’s engagement with ASEAN. As Việt Nam takes over as the Chair of ASEAN and as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council next year, even greater synergy is expected in our regional and global co-operation and co-ordination.
As two aspirational societies engaged in the task of national modernisation, India and Việt Nam are bound by shared dreams and values – of progressiveness, pluralism, freedom and integrity. Their common interests in ensuring peace, prosperity and stability in their shared region bind them closer together.
Above all, the cultural affinity between our peoples is the bedrock of this special relationship. On the occasion of India’s Independence Day, we recommit ourselves to building even more robust bridges of friendship and connectivity between the peoples of India and Việt Nam. VNS