External Affairs Minister’s Speech at the inauguration of “Visit India Year 2015” in Beijing
(This is English translation of Speech which was delivered in Hindi)
The special guest at today’s programme,
Vice Premier Mr. Wang Yang ,
Tourism Minister of China Mr. Jinzao,
Foreign Secretary of India Dr. S. Jaishankar,
Indian Ambassador to China Mr Ashok Kantha and
All the dear brothers and sisters participating in this "Visit India Year” Programme.
Today, I am very happy to be inaugurating this Visit India Year campaign in the presence of that very leader who visited India in the Party Exchange Programme. His presence here in this programme is lending us an honour as well as credibility.
It is my firm belief that people to people contacts play a major role in strengthening the relations between two nations. These days people do mostly visit for tourism. The government officials visit for official talks, the traders come to host meeting with partner trading companies but the common masses travel for tourism purposes. For tourism, they search for something exclusive that can attract them to other countries.
Just now, your Tourism Minister revealed that during President Xi Jinping’s visit it was decided between him and Prime Minister Modi to celebrate 2015 as "Visit India Year” and 2016 to be celebrated as "Visit China Year”. But it will not serve the purpose if you visit each other’s country merely on the dictates of the leaders, so I would like you to introduce you to those facets of India that will drag you to India.
Whenever someone visit’s other countries for tourism purposes there are two major considerations- the season of his choice and a place of interest. Someone likes summers and some enjoy the cold winters. Someone wants to get wet in the rains whereas some people want to experience the snow fall. I am pleased to tell you that India is that country where you can witness all these seasons on the same day in some or the other part of the country. If you like summers, then select some southern state, if you feel it is too hot then catch the next flight to Shimla. The winds there will be so cold that you might need a muffler along with your coat. Even if that is not enough, and you want some icy cold winds then Jammu and Kashmir is the place to be. Similarly you can select a place of your choice. If you like the mountains, then you can visit North East, if beaches are your choice then Goa is your destination, if deserts are what you seek then Rajasthan is your choice, if the business prospects allure you then Mumbai is the place to be and if you are a political person then hop on to a bus destined for Delhi. Similarly you can choose a place that matches your religious interest. If there are people of Buddhist faith who plan to travel then Bodh Gaya followed by Sarnath, Rajgir, Sanchi would be on their wishlist. Our Muslim brothers can choose to visit Ajmer Sharif or the shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya. If your interest lies in Hindu pilgrimages then from Mathura, Vrindavan, Varanasi all the way to Rameshwaram , you may choose to visit any place. But if you want to experience the ancient with the modern, where there are no formal rituals yet Hinduism can be experienced, then Akshardham itself will suffice.
You can experience the culinary delights of India too. Indian food is not just about Samosa and Kareji. There you can experience Idli Vada and Chholey Bhature too. But let me tell you something very interesting – whatever you will be served as Chinese cuisine is not authentic Chinese. It is our very own Indianised Chinese cuisine with whole lot of spices and oil that will leave you guessing – is this the Chinese cuisine we eat?
But there is something that will surprise you even more. So many languages, different places will have different languages, so many outfits, a variety of food will be available yet what will remain consistent is ‘One India’, India which is one From Kashmir to Kanya Kumari. You will witness unity in diversity like never before. The zeal and the warmth of the people of India, the mantra of Athithi Devo Bhava i.e Guests are God are sure to captivate your hearts. Any tourist who visits India, after sometime becomes one with the people and what surprises them is the warmth of the common man - be it a tea seller or a food vendor. You will see that whether it’s a guide from Kerala or Goa, within a few minutes he will appear as if he is a family member taking you out on a guided trip.
This diversity and magnanimity of India cannot be experienced in a few days. So I want that this time when you visit India it captures you and enthralls you in such a way that you may wish to visit India again and again. The desire to visit India again and again should stem from within your hearts. With these very thoughts I extend an invitation to you all to come to India in the ‘Visit India Year’.