Madam Zhang Junfang, Vice Mayor of Tianjin,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am deeply honoured to represent the Ambassador of India today at the 3rd India-China Forum. It is an opportune moment to revisit our civilisational links. It is also an occasion to reflect on the present and the future possibilities of bilateral exchanges to further strengthen people-to-people contacts.
The exchange of knowledge between India and China dates back to millennia. It reminds us of the old Silk Route, Xuan Zhang’s association with the Nalanda University in old Pataliputra and the Tea and Horse Road. The epic Mahabharata and Chanakya’s Arthashastra contain references to China and Chinese silk. Teachings of both Confucius and Sakyamuni have travelled across geographical barriers and helped exchanges between the two civilizations. Kashyapa Matanga and Dharma Ratna had made the White Horse Monastery at Luoyang their abode. The great scholar Kumarajiva had initiated the efforts to collect and translate important Buddhist texts at Chang’an, present Xian. Indian astronomer Aryabhatta’s astronomical science also got translated into Chinese. Rabindranath Tagore’s creations have made astounding impact on the Chinese intellectual discourse and scholarship.
In the last 30 years, both India and China have made remarkable economic progress. However, both face many similar challenges. Both are nations of youths, with hopes, with dreams and with aspirations and in this context, it is essential that our peoples communicate with each other, understand and share each other’s experiences. Leaders of both countries have laid the roadmap for vigorous people-to-people contacts in the new millennium. In 2010, both countries celebrated the 60 years of establishment of India-China diplomatic relations, 2011 was celebrated as the Year of Exchanges and 2012 has been declared as the Year of India-China Friendship and Cooperation. Last year 500 Chinese youths and 500 Indian youths visited each other’s country. In July this year, 100 Indian youngsters visited China. It is only befitting that at a time when we are building a strategic and cooperative partnership, expanding our trade and economic cooperation and working together on global issues, that this is strengthened by greater people-to-people understanding.
Last week on 24th August, the Central Board of Secondary Education of India and Hanban of China (Confucius Institute) signed an MOU on the teaching of Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language in Indian schools. The MOU envisages the exchanges of academic staff, teachers, trainees, experts and students. This is an important step forward for growing exchanges in the sector of education between India and China. As the next generation of India acquires the language skill to communicate directly with China, I hope, the channel of both intensive and extensive interaction will widen further.
I am extremely happy that Vice-Chancellors, Deans, academicians, Principals of various universities and institutions in India are visiting China to explore possibilities for future exchanges. I am thankful to the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) and the China-India Friendship Association (CIFA) for hosting the third India-China Forum.
I wish the Forum all success.