Manila, October 20: The values of India’s civilisation can ensure peace and friendship among people and countries in the times of strife and violence, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Sunday, calling on the Indian community in the Philippines to promote the country’s heritage.
Speaking at the Indian community reception in Manila, Kovind appreciated the contribution of the diaspora to the economy and society of the the Philippines and to the image of India and Indians. The president is on a five-day visit to the Southeast Asian country.
“Our community in the Philippines has been a strong bond of friendship between our two countries for decades. The size of the diaspora has grown remarkably over the last few years,” he said at the event.
“To meet our people in faraway lands is an emotional and special experience for me, one that you have when you meet your near and dear ones,” he said.
Appreciating the Indian community for maintaining its culture and traditions in the Philippines, Kovind said, “you must do your best to promote our heritage and knowledge for the well-being and happiness of all.”
The president said that it is a matter of immense pride for us that wherever our community goes, it takes with it the values of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the whole world is one family.
“In these times of strife and violence, it is these values of our civilization that can ensure peace and friendship among peoples and countries,” he said.
“You have also done well to keep our languages alive in your daily lives, be it Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi or Gujarati. I understand that yoga is very popular in the Philippines and ayurveda is also gaining ground,” Kovind said while praising the community.
The president also called on the community to avail opportunities that India offers for innovation, investment, research and education.
The flagship initiatives such as Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Ganga Rejuvenation Project, Swachh Bharat Mission, Smart Cities and Jal Jeevan Mission seek your partnership, Kovind said.
Highlighting that the India-Philippines trade has risen to nearly 2.5 billion US dollars, he said that the economic engagement between the two countries in terms of investment and presence of Indian companies in the Philippines is on the upswing.
He said that the quantum of the bilateral trade is still modest and there is much potential which needs to be tapped.
“I am sure with your initiatives and enterprise; we can do much more to bring prosperity to the two countries,” he said.
Kovind retreated India’s commitment to strengthen its bond with the diaspora and highlighted the steps taken by the Indian government in this direction, including relaxation of rules and regulations for obtaining Overseas Citizenship of India cards, making consular service delivery people-sensitive and people-friendly and offering seats in educational institutions in India.
He said that the Indian Embassy in the Philippines will soon begin printing of passports in Manila and this will drastically reduce the time taken for issuance of new passports.
Speaking about the Indian places of worship in the Southeast Asian country, Kovind said that apart from Hindu temples, as many as 26 Gurudwaras exist throughout the length and breadth of the Philippines.
He also conveyed good wishes to the Sikh community on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
Highlighting the Philippines being a hospitable and friendly country for Indians, Kovind stressed that the signing of a Tourism Promotion Agreement promises to bring the people of the two countries further close.
“As professionals, as entrepreneurs and as technocrats you have freely pursued your vocation and contributed to the progress and prosperity of this country. The people here have been warm and welcoming to you. And so have they been to the thousands of students from India studying medicine here,” he said.
Underlining that India-Philippines relations are driven by shared values such as commitment to democracy, secularism and pluralism, Kovind said that the ties between the two nations are both old and new.
“We cannot but be proud of our seafaring forefathers who more than a millennium back established cultural and commercial ties between India and the South East Asia,” he said.
“With regard to the Philippines, these ties are yet to be fully explored and documented. But we do know that old artifacts have been unearthed in the Philippines that are distinctly of Indian influence,” Kovind said.
President Kovind also recalled his meeting with his Philippines counterpart Rodrigo Duterte where the latter appreciated Indian community’s role in the development of the Philippines. (PTI)