About Us Speeches

Speech by High Commissioner Ruchira Kamboj at the Curtain Raiser Dinner to open the India South Africa Business Summit on 29 April 2018 at the SCC, Johannesburg

Posted on: April 29, 2018 | Back | Print

Few places on Earth can offer the variety that India does. We are a 5000 years old civilization, there, perhaps when no one was. Knowledge from our Vedas, some of the oldest texts of the planet, transcend the barriers of race, creed and religion, extending to all parts of the world. And peace advocated from our ancient Gita has uplifted and touched souls. 

However, the depth of India is not solely contained within its past. 71 years of independence have paved a path of acceleration and development within our country. In terms of our economic growth, we are one of the fastest growing economies in the world; in terms of our environmental efforts, we lead in conservation including through the Blue Revolution for bluer oceans and skies; in technology, with cost effective and influentially bold space programmes, we have launched some of the most powerful rockets and satellites, as well as in our actions of tenacity and strength on education for all. 

South Africa: a country which stands out through its boundless diversity amongst land and people and with a deeply rooted history, has also taken to rapid growth and development, sculpting a fresh path for its people. The soul and spirit of this beautiful land and its beautiful people is indeed unique. It not only possesses a genuine spirit of welcoming, but also serves as an epitome of reconciliation and rapprochement. After travelling to more countries than I am able to keep track of, I can say that I have yet to stand beneath something as entrancingly low and vast as the South African sky. 

Honourable Minister Suresh Prabhu, Minister Rob Davies, Minister Pravin Gordhan, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is with great joy and excitement that I stand here to welcome all of you to a night where our Indian and South African heritage speak for themselves. 

There are perhaps no two more natural partners than India and South Africa. Two countries which have gone through the crucible of oppression, struggle and hardship with souls unbroken.

Today, our countries emerge as leaders for a new era of shared prosperity for the benefit of their two countries and people. 

Perhaps it was this golden thread that OR Tambo spoke of when he went to India in 1980 to receive the Nehru Award on behalf of Madiba. Or when Madiba himself said, speaking of Gandhi : India’s soul truly does lie in South Africa

Years later India bestowed on Madiba the highest civilian honour : The Bharat Ratna or the Jewel of India, only one of two foreign statesmen to receive this honour. 

Since 1997 when the basis of a strategic partnership of our countries was laid, trade has emboldened, cultural and economic bonds have deepened and people to people ties have solidified. This relationship between India and South Africa is special. It stands for peace in a time of turmoil, serves as a platform of collaboration in a time chaos and above all, is an alliance of trust. 

The India South-Africa Business Summit is born from a conviction : a conviction that our two countries share a future as rich as our past. 

Perhaps many of you in the audience would recognize this quote from Madiba himself: “With an unfaltering belief in justice and a recognition that none could be truly free while others were oppressed, India came to our aid when the rest of the world stood by.” 

Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight we honour our countries through collaboration, our people with compassion and our shared histories through art.