On 18 December, in his address to the Indian community in Kuwait on a wide range of topics, ambassador H.E. Sibi George said that since his arrival four months back, he had wanted to be in constant and direct touch with the community, but that due to the Covid 19 pandemic situation webinar and virtual meetings remained the most viable mode of engagement.
He noted that such interactions would help inform community members on the latest developments in bilateral relations between India and Kuwait, as well as communicate the efforts being undertaken by the embassy in streamlining and improving consular services and community welfare measures. The online meeting was attended by a large number of community members, including students, teachers and parents of children who were the winners of the numerous competitions organized by the embassy over the past several months.
The ambassador began the virtual meeting by thanking the Amir of Kuwait H H Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and the Crown Prince H H Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, for hosting the large Indian community in Kuwait, and congratulated the new government led by H H Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah. “I also thank the Government of the State of Kuwait and Kuwaiti friends of India for their efforts and support in strengthening the bilateral relations between our two friendly countries,” added Ambassador George.
Expressing regret at not meeting the community during the last Independence Day celebrations on 15 August, due to the ongoing health situation, the ambassador added, “Staying within the constraints imposed by the pandemic, I have been meeting with the community in small groups over the last four months and have also been receiving a large number of emails and letters from associations and community members sharing their concerns on various issues and also coming up with ideas and suggestions in promoting our relations with Kuwait and also in improving the consular service and community welfare measures.
“I look forward to continuing my engagement with each of the associations and groups and community members. As I am not able to meet our community in large numbers due to the pandemic, I thought it important to address all groups and associations virtually today, to brief you on what we have been doing and what we propose to do. “
He thanked the selfless service rendered to society by the Indian health community in Kuwait, as well as expressed his gratitude to the several Indian organizations and individual community members who “in coordination with Indian Community Support Group (ICSG) took several steps to help our brothers and sisters in need during the most difficult days of the pandemic”.
Elaborating on bilateral relations between India and Kuwait, Ambassador George underlined that geographic proximity, historical trade links, cultural affinities, people to people connect and growing cooperation in key areas of mutual interest, including energy security, trade and investment, infrastructure development projects, petrochemicals and education continues to strengthen and broaden our centuries-old historic relations and longstanding partnership with Kuwait.
He added that there were “other crucial areas, apart from trade and investment, such as security, fight against terrorism, defence, science and technology where we are in regular engagement with this important country. Some of the areas of mutual interest include information and communication technology, biotechnology, small and medium enterprises entrepreneurship, alternative energy sources, the list is long and expanding. Ofcourse in each of these areas, we need to do more to realize the huge potential that exists. I believe that our vibrant community can play a significant role in building this partnership”.
He noted that since his arrival he had been meeting with Kuwait’s leadership at the political, official, business and cultural level to explore ways and means to deepen our partnership. The ambassador added that while these government level engagements would continue in the weeks and months ahead, India – Kuwait relationship was not just between governments and officials, it is a partnership involving many stakeholders from various economic, social and cultural fields, as well as “our Indian community with its most vibrant people to people contacts”. He urged community members to extend their support and assistance to promote and expand the longstanding dynamic partnership between the two countries.
“When each of our community members currently employed in Kuwait, do their assigned job with dedication, sincerity and honesty, they earn respect for themselves and for our country. I am happy that each of the Kuwaiti leaders and citizens that I met during the last few months, spoke so high of the hardworking, peace loving and law abiding qualities of our community. Such comments make us so proud of our community,” said the ambassador.
He added, “Many of you, as residents of Kuwait, are aware of the excellent relations that we maintain with this country. I thought it is important to reiterate this today in my address, as we are entering into an important phase of our relationship. In 2021-22 we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of establishment of our diplomatic relations. This is an important milestone in the history of our engagement. Similarly, for India 2021-22 is a very important year when we celebrate the 75th anniversary of our Independence.
“As part of these two important anniversaries, the embassy plans to celebrate India in a big way in Kuwait. We plan to organize a series of events aimed at increasing our outreach within Kuwait, to project the new India and also to further deepen our engagement at political, economic, cultural, scientific and people to people levels. I would like each one of the associations, groups and individuals to contribute in these efforts.
“One of the first decisions that I took on my arrival in Kuwait in August is to engage with all Indian associations and groups in Kuwait. I reviewed an earlier decision to de-register some of our associations and groups in the past and reinstated all associations as our partners. I would like each of the associations and groups to come up with ideas aimed at celebrating the 75th anniversary of our independence and 60th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. It is the same proposal that I have with our schools. Every cultural program, business program and outreach efforts that we do in Kuwait in 2021-22 could be made part of these important anniversary celebrations. To celebrate the 60th anniversary, I am looking at organizing 600 events and to celebrate the 75th anniversary I am looking at organizing 750 events.
“As you are aware, the embassy has in recent weeks set up three outreach platforms ICN, IPN, IBN. ICN (Indian Cultural Network) as a platform to highlight our cultural diversity and art forms and to recognize and promote the artistic skills within our diaspora. IPN (Indian Professionals Network) as a platform to learn from the expertise and experiences of our distinguished professionals here and imbibe the best practices. IBN (Indian Business Network) as a platform to showcase India’s economic and scientific transformation and to highlight the billion opportunities that India offers for business partnership.
“I am also pleased to inform you that the embassy, in association with IBN, has already organized a number of business promotion events under the theme of ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’, (self reliant India). Many more events are lined up in the coming weeks and months ahead. In the coming weeks and months, we will come up with various projects and initiatives through these platforms. “
During the virtual meet, the ambassador also announced the launch of the ‘Ambassador Cup Annual Debate’ and an ‘Ambassador’s Cup Elocution Competition’ for our school children starting 2021. We will work with all our schools, principals, teachers and parents to organize a memorable program.
He also called on the community to promote travel and tourism to India among their Kuwaiti friends. “While most of our Kuwaiti friends have some connection with India, many are not aware of the steady economic and scientific transformation that India witnessed in recent years. We need to reach out to them. Many of our Kuwaiti friends have in their ‘wish list’ a visit to India. My endeavor is to move that from the ‘wish list’ to a ‘to do’ list. Get them to travel to India to experience the new India. I need your support for that. Please invite your Kuwaiti friends and colleagues to visit India.”
“As I have discussed with some of you in our earlier interactions, even in these difficult times, in India, we have so many things to be proud of, we have so many things to celebrate and showcase. During the COVID crisis, despite our own many challenges, we extended a helping hand to many countries, we supplied medicines and our medical professionals travelled to many countries to assist the local governments.
“Our commitment to build an Atmanirbhar Bharat, (self reliant India) our march towards a New India, our scientific achievements, the progress being made in our medical research, our steady growth in infrastructure, our IT sector, our AI sector, our space program, our contributions in addressing climate change issues, our progress in solar, wind and nuclear energy sectors, our country is on a forward looking trajectory. These and many other elements of New India need to be projected in Kuwait and beyond. I need each of the associations and groups to participate in these outreach efforts.
“While we work on our efforts to enhance our political, economic and cultural partnership, we in the embassy are fully conscious of the fact that some of our brothers and sisters continue to face an unprecedentedly difficult situation today. Authorities in our two countries are in constant touch to address these issues, while keeping in view the evolving COVID pandemic. We are making steady progress and will keep you updated on a daily basis through our 24×7 helplines. Let me reiterate this. Those who need help and support are not liabilities, they are not strangers; they are our brothers and sisters, they are not problems, they are our priorities. They will receive a warm welcome at the embassy including a lunch and air ticket in each deserving case, on a means-tested basis.
“Our open houses, our regular press releases, our multilingual feedback forms will continue to bridge gaps. We have kept Suggestion/Complaint Boxes prominently at the Chancery premises and our passport offices. I assure you every suggestion and complaint will be taken seriously and acted upon. My endeavor is to make your visit to the embassy a pleasant experience and to continue to improve the consular services and welfare measures. I have an excellent team of officers and staff members who are committed to make this happen. This year has been a very difficult year for all of us. I wish you a very different New Year 2021. Let us pray for it to be a year of prosperity and good health. Stay safe and stay healthy.”