At a ceremony for the occasion this past Wednesday, Ambassador of India to Egypt Ajit Gupte and his wife Mrs. Priti Gupte welcomed their Egyptian friends and members of the Indian community in Egypt, who were keen to attend despite the exceptionally cold weather.
Ambassador Gupte addressed the guests, saying “on 26 January in 1950, our nation’s idealism and convictions took shape in the Constitution of India. The framers of our Constitution gave us a sovereign, democratic republic and pledged to secure justice, liberty, equality and fraternity for all citizens. In the last seven decades, India has grown into a vibrant, diverse, and dynamic democracy respected across the world.”
The event was attended by a number of high-ranging Egyptian officials including the assistant minister of defence, a member of parliament, the secretary-general of Cairo’s Chamber of Commerce, and several senior figures from the foreign ministry.
A number of foreign and Arab ambassadors, together with defence attaches of France, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Greece, Argentina, Italy and the UK were also present.
In the face of the continued challenge posted by the COVID-19 pandemic to the world, the ambassador praised India’s response, saying they are the largest producer of vaccines in the world and have already administered 1,640 million doses. More than 92 percent of Indians have received at least one shot, while over 70 percent are fully vaccinated, he added
“India firmly believes in its global commitment and it is essential that vaccines be equally distributed across the world to end the pandemic. In keeping with our ancient principle of ‘Vasudev Kutumbhakam’ (the whole world is one family), India has provided 110 million vaccine [doses] to countries abroad.”
At the recent COP26 Summit at Glasgow in November 2021, India’s prime minister committed to supplying five billion vaccine doses in 2022, Gupte added.
In addition to vaccines, India has acted as the “pharmacy of the world” by providing testing, PPE and life-saving medicines at low cost to over 150 countries, helping to save “innumerable lives,” Ambassador Gupte explained further.
Despite the pandemic, the Indian ambassador said “2021 witnessed remarkable momentum in the development of bilateral relations between India and Egypt,” adding that the two countries’ foreign ministers met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2021 where they were able to revive several bilateral mechanisms, particularly those related to trade.
“I am happy that our bilateral trade has expanded by 80 percent and is likely to reach a record high this year. Egypt’s exports to India have doubled between April-October 2021 and reached $1.94 billion. India has emerged as the largest export destination for Egypt in this period. India’s exports have also grown by 63 percent in this period to amount to $1.86 billion.”
Bilateral cooperation also extended to the defence sector, according to the ambassador, including a visit by the commander of the Indian Air Force in November 2021, where he met with his Egyptian counterpart during the first ever joint air exercise between the two countries.
This came on the heels of an earlier visit in September by the Indian frigate INS Tabar to the Egypian naval port in Alexandria, which undertook joint exercises with the Egyptian Navy, Gupte pointed out.
“In November 2021, over 10 Indian companies participated in the Egypt Defence Expo (EDEX) 2021 and showcased their state-of-the-art defence systems. The growing cooperation between India and Egypt in defence is testament to the trust and mutual understanding between the two countries,” he added
The ambassador highlighted India’s rapid economic recovery despite the pandemic, saying the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow 9.5 percent 2021-2022 and 7.8 percent the following year.
Talking about his country’s commitment to fighting climate change and promoting renewable energy, the ambassador drew attention to the fact that “India ranks fourth in the world in installed renewable energy capacity,” adding that “India has also encouraged countries to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA), which already has 81 members, including Egypt.”
Gupte emphasised India’s awareness of the many challenges facing the global order from climate change, terrorism, inequality and increased polarisation to more regional issues of poverty, hunger, civil wars and conflict.
“India firmly believes in peaceful resolution of disputes through talks and negotiations, respecting every country’s sovereignty and independence. These challenges must be faced collectively as a common threat to humanity,” the ambassador concluded.