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Ireland-India Council (IIC) interviews India's Ambassador to Ireland H.E. P. S. Raghavan
Q1. Your Excellency the pre independence ties between the two countries are significant. How do old links complement the culture and traditions of the Irish and Indian people?
The extraordinary diversity of contacts between our two countries in the 19th and 20th centuries has created a groundswell of goodwill between our two peoples. It is a base that we can build on to forge new links in response to the opportunities in the modern globalized world.
Q2. After independence we have limited political interactions between the two countries. How the Irish “look east” policy and the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s visit to India broaden Irish-Indian relations?
The Taoiseach’s visit in 2006 made a valuable contribution to renewing the vibrancy of India-Ireland relations and bridging the awareness gap between the business communities of the two countries. The tempo of bilateral interactions has definitely picked up since then.
Q3. What interests does India have in Ireland?
I have mentioned the friendship that India and Ireland developed over two centuries. What we would like to do is to take that friendship forward by finding new avenues of cooperation between our two countries. As democracies, India and Ireland have a convergence of views on a large number of world problems. We have economic complementary that should encourage more trade and investment exchanges. India’s strategic partnership with the European Union is another important strand in the India-Ireland relationship. The skilled Indian professionals who live and work in Ireland not only contribute to the economy of this country; they also enable an interaction of our cultures.
Q4 Ambassador In your opinion, how could the economic relations between the two countries further strengthen?
We are already witnessing a strengthening of economic relations. Even in the current challenging economic situation, bilateral trade in goods & services is showing a sustained increase. There is also considerable investment interest on both sides.…..We need to continue our efforts – and in this the IIC also has a role – to promote greater awareness in our business communities of the tremendous potential that is still to be tapped.
Q5 What is happening in the areas of culture, science, and technology and education exchange between our two counties?
With the efforts of the Indian community in Ireland and our Embassy, a number of Indian cultural events have been held in Ireland recently. We will see more such activities in 2011, particularly in connection with the 150th birth anniversary of our poet philosopher Rabindranath Tagore who had close connections with Ireland in the early 20th century. The Program of Cooperation in Science & Technology, which was concluded in May last year, has catalyzed stronger interaction between scientists and researchers of our two countries, including through joint research projects. We see great promise in this cooperation.
I believe Irish higher educational institutions can attract many more Indian students. Fortunately a number of them are now paying more attention to their marketing efforts in India. I am sure these efforts will yield rich results. I am happy that our Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has established a Chair of Indian Studies in Trinity College Dublin. Equally heartening is the creation of a new post in Indian studies in Trinity College which has been co-funded by the Indian community in Ireland along with the College.
Q6 How rapidly is India developing today and what are the opportunities for Irish businesses in India and vice versa?
India’s economic growth is now fairly well documented in the business pages of the international press. The Indian Government is paying equal attention to economic development, so that the benefits of growth accrue to the less affluent sections of the population, thereby narrowing income disparities. Both our growth and our development initiatives offer rich opportunities to Irish businesses. Irish companies have been exploring business in India in IT, pharmaceuticals, energy and a range of infrastructure industries. With India’s present economic trajectory and the strengths of Irish business, there is really no limit to the speed at which our economic relations can grow. In this I would also like to mention investments. Indian companies have significantly stepped up investments abroad, particularly in Europe. With Ireland’s special advantages it should attract a number of Indian companies which are seeking a base in the European Union.
Q7 What is happening about the Indian Presidential Visit to Ireland?
The two Governments are in discussion about the schedules.
Q8 Where do you see India in next 20 years?
In 2030, India should be a developed and prosperous country, playing its rightful role for peace and security in the global community.
Q9. You are probably at the end of your tenure in Ireland, what initiatives have you already taken to enhance Irish-Indian ties, how much are you satisfied with the outcome of these initiatives and what advice will you give to your successor?
My tenure in Ireland [which still continues] has been very rewarding. It has been heartening to see the tremendous strides in various areas of bilateral relations in recent years. All those involved in this – the Indian and Irish Governments, my Embassy and the Irish Embassy in Delhi, a number of governmental agencies in both countries, and the Indian community in this country – can take pride in having helped in this process. At the same time, we recognize that there is more work to be done to further enrich the relationship.
(Ireland-India Council (IIC) interviews India's Ambassador to Ireland H.E. P. S. Raghavan for the IIC Newsletter)