Phnom Penh: On 28th January 2022, The Embassy of India in Phnom Penh celebrated the 73rd Republic Day of India with great enthusiasm at Raffle Le Royal Hotel. During the special day Dr. Devyani Uttam Khobragade, Ambassador of the Republic of India to the Kingdom of Cambodia address her speech.
After becoming independent in 1947, India declared herself to be a Sovereign and the Democratic Republic on 26th January 1950 with the adoption of the world’s longest written constitution. Bharat Ratna Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, a great thinker, and social reformer, who fought for equality all his life, is considered to be the father of the Indian Constitution. His contribution to making this sacred document a reality will be remembered forever. As a woman Ambassador, I am glad to inform you that at least 15 women members of the Constituent Assembly played an important role in their way of framing the Indian Constitution.
India’s birth as an independent democratic nation through a non-violent freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and other great freedom fighters was unique. The strengthening of those democratic values over the last seven and a half decades has been one of India’s greatest achievements. Of course, there have been challenges, given India’s diversity, in terms of geography, language, religion, culture, and ethnicity. However, the country’s journey towards inclusive and sustainable prosperity and stability is a story of inspiration and pride for us.
Our ability to harmonize traditional values with modernity stands out in particular. Our modernity, our humanism, and globalism, our world view is informed by our ancient philosophical outlook of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the world is one family. It is in this spirit that India has engaged with the world and is now considered as a first responder, a climate action leader, the pharmacy of the world, a reservoir of talent, and a reliable development partner. It is in this spirit that in 2022, we mark the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (sacred festival of Freedom) – an initiative to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of progressive India.
During these 75 years, the wider world has changed profoundly. Significant shifts in geopolitics, economy, culture have driven a rebalancing process. A country home to 1/6th of world humanity, India, as a democratic polity, an innovative economy, and a culture of unmatched diversity, has a real weight and value, and bears well its responsibility, in the comity of nations.
It brings me joy to now turn to the extremely warm relationship that India shares with its civilizational sister Cambodia. This year, from 30th May 2022, we will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations. But our spiritual and civilizational links go back deeply for millennia. We share the overlapping cultural and religious heritage of Hinduism and Buddhism, binding us together spiritually, just as our blood is bound together from thousands of years of mutual migration. Do not forget that the biggest Hindu temples in the world are located right here in Cambodia, as an archaeological witness to the connection between our peoples.
Our modern relationship is no less an exception. India was the first country to recognize Cambodia after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. In the last few years, our modern relationship is also growing quite robust – be it in the field of political relations, strengthening and connection of democratic institutions, economic cooperation, Defence, Development Cooperation, and people-to-people and cultural connect.
We are proud specially of our human connection, around 2500 government officials and professionals have trained under our India Technical Economic Cooperation Programme and several stalwarts in this room have studied in India through our academic scholarships through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Our multiple Quick Impact Development Projects in the fields of education, sanitation, health, rural infrastructure, women and child welfare, environment, etc. have positively impacted the lives of vulnerable Cambodians. Whether it is through capacity building, bringing investments, sharing technologies and knowhow, financial assistance through grants and loans, Health & Medical Research, cooperation between our two Parliaments, or through the restoration of cultural monuments, including Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm Temples and Preah Vihear temple, India stands ready to share with its Cambodian kith and kin, whatever it has to offer.
These Bilateral ties are catalyzed by the 3000 plus strong Indian community living here in Cambodia. Though small in number, they make a big impact, playing the role of an organic bridge between our two countries, and are an integral part of Team India in Cambodia.
I also take this opportunity to convey the Government and People of India’s appreciation to the leadership of Cambodia, Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen and all his Ministers, particularly DPM & Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Prak Sokhonn and his team for their continued benevolence towards the Indian community in Cambodia and their unstinting support and faith in India-Cambodia relations. It would be amiss not to thank my diplomatic colleagues, my fellow ambassadors, whose friendship and support I enjoy while discharging my diplomatic Mission here in Cambodia.
Source: India in Cambodia (Embassy of India, Phnom Penh)