Indian Ambassador to Hungary Kumar Tuhin presented his diplomatic credentials to President of Hungary János Áder at the Sándor Palace only last month on December 17, and was thus conducting his first Republic Day celebration in Budapest, to which 300-plus guests were expected in the ballroom of the riverside Marriott Hotel.

Ambassador Tuhin said the day is very special as it commemorates the values of India’s democracy and reaffirms the nation’s commitment to liberty, fraternity and equality across its society and among its citizens. It was also a special year as it marked the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who had inspired millions across the world and provided a moral compass for everyone. Gandhi, the Father of India, was born in Porbandar on October 2, 1869.

The ambassador told the guests that India is not a 70-year-old nation but is among the oldest cradles of civilisation from which elements of culture as well as learning, science and technology have spread to other parts of the world. Today’s India was a vibrant nation that housed one seventh of humanity, and a youthful nation with 65 percent of its population being below the age of 35.

India is a rapidly developing nation that already is the fifth-largest world economy, and this is projected to grow consistently at more than 7 percent a year, Ambassador Tuhin said. He offered some data to highlight this dynamism. For instance, India’s air passenger traffic is expected to grow sixfold to 1.1 billion per year by 2040. Its commercial air fleet is expected to be 2359 strong by March 2040, when India is expected to have 190-200 operational airports.

India is now the second-largest mobile phone producer in the world, with annual production up from 3 million in 2014 to 11 million in 2017. The country is the world’s second-largest steel producer, with the World Steel Association recording its output of crude steel in the first 11 months of 2018 at 96.92 million tonnes. And India is set to become the third-largest consumer market behind only the US and China. The World Economic Forum predicts its consumer spending to grow from USD 1.5 trillion at present to nearly USD 6 trillion by 2030.

Ambassador Tuhin said the ambitious renewable energy target the country had set itself in the Paris Agreement of 2015 had been thought to be too ambitious by many people, but now the country’s success had led to this being revised upwards. In 2015 the target had been 175 GW by 2022 but now it was 175 GW.

Also, India was building 28 kilometres of new roads a day, and the Indian Space Research Organisation had launched a record 104 satellites with a single rocket in February 2017, had succeeded in its first attempt to send an operational mission to Mars and is planning its first manned space mission in 2022.

Turning to the bilateral relationship, the ambassador said the 70 years have seen mutual respect and cooperation that continues to strengthen. This had created a sense of satisfaction, and the India-Hungary interactions and partnership had intensified politically, economically and culturally.

Indian investment had increased manifold to touch USD 2 billion and Indian companies employed more than 10,000 Hungarians. India now ranked among the top foreign investors in Hungary. A liberal e-visa scheme included Hungarians and made it easy to visit the subcontinent.

Ambassador Tuhin said both Hungary and India have ancient cultures with a history of spiritual and cultural interaction. There was much the two could do together: a strong India and a strong Hungary would together contribute to a better world.

The embassy’s chief guest at the Republic Day event was Cecilia Szilasz, Deputy State Secretary for Development of Eastern Relations at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade. Guests watched a short film of the day’s celebrations along the Rajpath in New Delhi, attended by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, and the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.

A cultural programme in the Marriott featured a fusion orchestra based on the national song of India, “Vande Mataram” written by renowned Indian writer Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and performed by Pandit Rajesh Gangani and Hungarian musicians Tamás Földi, Melinda Irtl, Szabolcs Tóth and Gerzson Dávid Boros.

This was followed by a Kathak performance by Sonali Roy and her group on a soulful Sufi song sung by Abida Parveen. The evening’s programme concluded with a musical extravaganza presented by the Hungarian Meshinda band with singer Guessous Majda Maria, fusing Hindi and Hungarian patriotic songs.

Earlier in the day, Ambassador Tuhin had unfurled the national flag at the embassy premises. About 150 members of the Indian community and friends of India along with the embassy officials gathered to sing the National Anthem and listen to the annual message from the President of India read out by the ambassador.


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