on the occasion of 70th Republic Day of India
On this auspicious occasion of the 70th Republic Day of India, I extend my warm greetings and congratulations to all my fellow countrymen in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
On this day, in 1950, modern India was born, and a resilient and forward looking Constitution was adopted by our founding fathers; A Constitution that protects the rights of all Indians, guarantees equality before law, encourages pluralist ethos, advocates tolerance and non-violence, and promotes goodwill among diverse communities. These everlasting noble and just values of our Constitution made it more relevant in today’s world and have secured a unique and revered place for India in the comity of nations.
India has today emerged as the World’s largest democracy, making great strides in the fields of Industry, Science & Technology, IT, Space Technology, Medicine, well–being, etc. and has transformed from an agricultural economy to a service oriented economy, with a self-reliant manufacturing base. Our strong democratic institutions, resilient economy, industrial growth, scientific and technological achievements and incredible socio-cultural diversity are testimony to the fact that we have been steadily marching ahead to the noble goals set by our leaders seven decades ago.
Last few years have seen India embarking upon implementing radical economic reforms towards ease of doing business, and introducing investor-friendly changes in its FDI policy. A number of major flagship initiatives like Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Swachh Bharat, Smart Cities, and StartupIndia, among others, are offering a whole lot of opportunities to the investors. In a sweeping economic reform, the biggest in the history of the country, India replaced its web of multiple Central and State taxes with the single Goods & Services Tax (GST) which is expected to minimize the complexities and increase tax revenues manifold, to fuel the economic growth. India has surged ahead 23 places to position itself at 77th rank in the Ease of Doing Business Report of the World Bank. Consistently, India has registered 7 % + growth rate, making itself a promising market in the existing global scenario.
We attach great priority to our friendly relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Our traditionally close ties are anchored in shared interests based on centuries-old economic and socio-cultural ties and vibrant people to people contacts. Our leadership has been working closely with the Saudi leadership towards further deepening our multifaceted ties for the common benefit of our two countries. On the side-lines of G20 Summit in Argentina in November 2018, Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi met the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and discussed aspects of bilateral cooperation. The political commitment at the leadership level has been reflected by the increase in frequent visits of delegations from both the sides. Notably, the Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Eng Khalid Al Falih visited India thrice looking to bolster and boost the bilateral ties. External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj visited Riyadh to participate in the inauguration of the Saudi National Festival of Heritage and Culture – Janadriyah where India was privileged to be the “Guest of Honour” Country. Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley visited Riyadh to co-chair the 12th India Saudi Arabia Joint Commission Meeting. Minister of State Gen. V K Singh visited Riyadh to jointly address the Press Briefing on Janadriyah with the Saudi Minister of National Guard. Odisha Minister of Industries visited Kingdom looking to attract investments into Odisha.
Saudi Arabia is our 4th largest trade partner and is a major source of energy as we import around 17 % of our crude oil requirement from the Kingdom. In 2017-18, the India-Saudi bilateral trade has increased by 9.56 % to US $ 27.48 billion. During this period, our imports from Saudi Arabia reached USD 22.06 billion, registering an increase of 10.50 % over previous year (USD 19.97 billion) whereas our exports to Saudi Arabia reached USD 5.41 billion registering an increase of 5.88 % over previous year (USD 5.11 billion).
Indian IT majors like TCS, WIPRO, Tech Mahindra are engaged actively with main Saudi Ministries such as Energy, Saudi Aramco, Education, Finance, Water etc. These companies are contributing in a big way in imparting training to Saudi youth especially women, in line with Vision 2030 objectives. Several other Indian Companies such as the Indian Hotels Co. Ltd. (IHCL); OYO Hotels; Bharat Forges are recent entries into the Saudi market.
On the Saudi investments in India, notably, the Saudi Aramco signed a MoU with the Indian Consortium (IOC, BPCL and HPCL) to jointly develop the USD 44 billion Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemical Project Limited (RRPL) on 50:50 basis. The Saudi Al-Fanar is setting up a 300 MW power project in Kutch of worth USD 300 million since June 2018 and the project is expected to be completed by 2020. Also, Saudi Aramco signed a MoU with the Mumabi based GumPro for setting up a drilling fluids facility on the sidelines of 2nd edition of Future Investment Initiative in October 2018.
Saudi Arabia is home to over 2.7 million-strong Indian community, the largest Indian passport-holders abroad. It is a matter of great satisfaction that the contribution made by the Indians in the development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is well-acknowledged and appreciated by the Saudi leadership as well as its people. I express my sincere gratitude to the Kingdom for hosting this large Indian community and also for the excellent services provided by the Saudi authorities to Haj and Umrah pilgrims from India.
I am confident that the coming months will witness further efforts and bilateral exchanges to strengthen our commercial and security relationship which forms intrinsic part of our strategic partnership.
I take this opportunity, once again, to greet my fellow citizens in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on this occasion of the 70th Republic Day of India.