Describing Africa and India as centres of gravity in today’s globalised world, President Pranab Mukherjee said both have a responsibility to work together for peace, security, and sustainable development.
Speaking at a banquet hosted in his honour by Namibia President Hage G. Geingob here yesterday, he said, “We share the view that reform of the United Nations and its principle organs – created in the wake of the Second World War – is an imperative. We agree that they need to be made more reflective of today’s changed world – so that they can respond more effectively to the complex challenges confronting the world today.”
The President said India looked forward to working closely with Namibia in the common effort to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and in addressing other important global issues that require collective action by the international community.
India, as a steadfast friend and reliable partner, will always consider it a matter of pride to stand shoulder to shoulder with Namibia in realising its people’s aspirations, progress in its region and peace in the world, he added.
Mr Mukherjee said India attached importance to enhancing her bilateral relations with Namibia. The twocountries have focussed on human resource development, capacity building, cultural exchanges and closer cooperation in the education and defence sectors. India’s flagship programmes like Skill India, Make in India, Digital India and 100 Smart Cities could be workable models in Namibia as well.
“The flourishing bilateral trade and economic relations between the two countries remind us of the still greater potential that is waiting to be realized. India is fully committed to the implementation of the projects and initiatives that have been jointly identified,” he added.
Earlier, addressing the Namibian Parliament, the President noted that his State Visit, the first by an Indian President since 1995, takes place at a time of excellent bilateral relations between the two countries. India attaches great value to her long standing friendship with Namibia, he said.
Saying that India-Namibia relationship has been built on the firm foundation of mutual trust and understanding, he pointed out that the two nations were bound by a common experience of colonial rule and the struggle of the people for freedom.
“India believed that her own independence was incomplete so long as her brethren in Africa continued to suffer oppression by foreign masters. India was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the leaders and people of Namibia in their liberation struggle. We were among the first nations to raise the question of Namibian independence in the UN,” he added.
“It was India that inscribed on the agenda of the UN General Assembly in 1964 the problem of colonial oppression and racial discrimination in South Africa and Namibia. The first ever SWAPO Embassy abroadwas established in New Delhi in 1986 and it was this move by India that started the chain of diplomatic recognition by other countries and the inevitability of Namibia’s independence,” the President said.
A retired Indian Army officer, late General Prem Chand commanded the force under the United Nation’s Transition Assistance Group. Diplomatic relations with independent Namibia were established right from the moment of its independence, with the Observer Mission being upgraded to full-fledged High Commission in March 1990.
“We welcomed the opening of Namibia’s full-fledged resident Mission in New Delhi in March 1994,” he added.
The founding President and Father of the Namibian Nation, Dr. Sam Nujoma, respected leader of the SWAPO Party for 47 years, is greatly admired in India as a world leader and friend of the Indian people, Mr Mukherjee said.
India had conferred upon him the prestigious Indira Gandhi Peace Prize for Disarmament and Development for the year 1990 in recognition of his outstanding contribution in leading the people of Namibia to freedom.
“Last November, we had the privilege of hosting him as a Distinguished Guest of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. I recall his inspiring words in October 1992, in Libreville, Gabon at the 17th Conference of the Heads of State & Government: and I quote “There cannot be democracy in an unstable political environment. Neither can there be development in an undemocratic environment……”
True to his legacy, Namibia is, today, a shining example of a nation that has repeatedly ensured a trouble-free and peaceful transfer of power from one elected Government to another. Namibia has, once again, proven that a vibrant democratic system offers the best possible ecosystem for inclusive development and growth.
Namibia’s commitment to democracy and the success of her national reconciliation programme has made her a role model for Africa. “We, in India, admire Namibia’s transformation into a vibrant, peaceful and fast progressing nation. We appreciate the vision of His Excellency, President Geingob in introducing the ‘Harambee Prosperity Plan’. India stands ready to extend any assistance that Namibia may require for achieving the ‘Harambee Prosperity Plan’s socio-economic objectives.
India would also be happy to partner with Namibia in the implementation of “Vision 2030” through inclusive development and capacity building,” he added.
The President pointed out that Namibia was one of the few societies in the world that has realised the goal of an equitable gender balance, to consciously focus on the aspirations of the youth is another sure step in the right direction. “India firmly believes that it is through investing in its youth that a nation canenhance its capacity to forge ahead towards progress and growth,” he said.
“Both our nations seek to address complex governance issues in our own ways. But it will be through empowerment of the disempowered – and by ensuring that in the “Harambee house”, no section is excluded, that we will succeed,” Mr Mukherjee said.
“India remains committed to a strong development partnership with Namibia in the South-South framework. We will continue to extend all possible assistance in human resource development and capacity building in Namibia.
“India’s expertise in IT and digital technologies, agriculture and dairy development can be utilized to further cement our economic partnership. We look forward to more students and officials from Namibia coming to India, availing the scholarships and training programmes offered by our Government,” he added.