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Sheik Abdul Wahad Al Balushi, Keynote Speaker Ms. Jayanti, Excellencies, colleagues from the Diplomatic Corps, Ladies and Gentlemen, Namaste.


Today we mark the 147th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Indian nation. This day is also observed as the International Day of Non-violence the world over. On behalf of the Embassy of India Muscat, I would like to thank you all for joining us this evening to take part in the celebration on the International Day of Non- Violence, co-organized with RajYoga Center for self-development.


On 15th June 2007, India introduced a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly calling for the Declaration and commemoration of 2 October as the International Day of non-violence. The resolution was co-sponsored by 140 countries and adopted by consensus, which was reflective of the universal respect that Mahatma Gandhi commands and the enduring relevance of his humane philosophy. According to the resolution, the International Day is an occasion to "disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness". The resolution reaffirms "the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence" and the desire "to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence".


I had the privilege of representing 1.2 billion human voices at the United Nations Human Rights Council for over three years, when I was posted as Counsellor to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva. In fact, I landed early this morning after attending the last session of the Council that ended this Friday. In my interaction with human voices from different cultures and perspectives across the world, it was evident that the deep desire for peace and better tomorrow for our future generations is universal. The celebration of ‘International Day of Non-Violence’ infuses new enthusiasm and fresh resolve to achieve the values propagated by Mahatma Gandhi.


Sadly, in recent times, this message seems to be drowned amidst the news of violence, killings, terrorist attacks that are beamed in our homes by 24*7 news channels and social media. Rising intolerance, cross-cultural tensions and scourge of terrorism pose a threat to our peaceful co-existence and understanding among nations. On this day, we must strengthen our resolve to use the tool of Non-violence, which in Gandhiji’s own words, “is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man”.


In Oman, as we just saw in the video, we are fortunate to have a leader like His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said who has made Oman an oasis of peace in the midst of region mired by unrest and conflicts. His majesty’s government through its policy of moderation and mediation has played a major role in bringing together even forces that are inimical to each other.


Shortly, after my speech, a brief video of the inauguration of the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in New Delhi will be screened. The video is in Hindi and so for the benefit of those who do not understand Hindi I would like to explain here a bit about the video. (Explains video). On the occasion, the Prime Minister said that India has never attacked any country for territorial gains throughout it’s history and reiterated our country’s desire for peaceful co-existence. He mentioned that Mahatma Gandhi’s journey started in South Africa and like the Mahatma, several generations of Indians have followed his footsteps and assimilated themselves as peaceful citizens or long-term residents of countries throughout the world.


The Indian diaspora in Oman has also lived upto the words of Prime Minister Modi in its conduct and are today a jewel among Indian diaspora worldwide. They are a shining example of Gandhiji’s mantra of peaceful co-existence and over the years, have worked hard for the development of their host nation, in step with their Omani brethren.


Albert Einstein had called Gandhi “a role model for the generations to come” . Gandhiji’s message of peace is as relevant today as was in his lifetime. On his birth anniversary, let us give new birth to our resolve to propagate his message of peace, love and non-violence that eventually led to India’s freedom.


Thank you very much



Good Evening, I wish to thank Indian Social Club for organizing this celebration to mark the 70th Independence Day and inviting me to speak before you. I want to convey my warm greetings to you on this auspicious day. Let us pay homage to our freedom fighters and thank our soldiers, and security and police personnel for their sacrifices in keeping our country secure and safe. Let us also recall the contributions made by our farmers, scientists, teachers, businessmen and leaders since our independence in building a progressive, democratic and secular India. As we start today the 70th year of our journey since independence, let us re-dedicate ourselves to preserving the unity and integrity of India as well as the idea of India. Let us commit ourselves to celebrate our diversity and show respect to other religions, cultures, values and customs.

Speaking earlier this morning from the ramparts of Red Fort, Honourable Prime Minister has called for building ek bharat, shreshtha bharat. He has underlined the importance of social unity, warning us that divisions in the name of caste, creed hurt the country. He has also called for a transition from Swaraj to Suraj, underlining the importance of providing responsible and good governance to the people. The onus is on us to achieve this goal. It is our collective responsibility to build the India of our dreams.

We can be truly proud of our achievements since independence. We are the largest thriving democracy of the world; our economy is the fastest growing major economy of the world and our exemplary achievements in the field of science and technology are well recognised. We are playing a leading role at the international fora like UN, G20, and BRICS in dealing with various global issues and shaping the global response to them. India's emergence as a global power has been welcomed. Recent foreign policy initiatives have enhanced our energy security, promoted food security and created international partnerships to take our flagship developmental programmes forward.

Yet there are huge challenges that India faces today primarily due to the social, cultural, economic and political transformations that it is going through simultaneously. We need to understand these challenges and deal with them with patience. Quite often we tend to focus on what is wrong with our political system, our society, and our economy. Instead, we, the citizens of India, must focus on what contributions we can and should make in dealing with the challenges that India is facing today. We have to be the instruments of change that we desire to bring about in India. Let us re-dedicate ourselves to do our best unconditionally and unflinchingly to achieve the goal of sustainable and inclusive development of India.

The Government of India appreciates the. contribution being made by the Indian community in Oman towards the development of India. Even though you are living and working in Oman, you are as much a part of Team India as those living in India.

And you have as much responsibility as they have to work towards the goal of building a modern India. You are invited to take part in various developmental initiatives of the Government of India like Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, Clean India, Namami Gange, building of 100 smart cities, and various infrastructure projects. Your investments are as much welcome and valuable as your professional skills and experiences. While foreign investors may be justified in worrying about the ease of doing business in India, NRI business community must take lead in investing in India. As we completed last month 25 years of economic reforms, I can say with confidence that the investment climate and ease of doing business in India is more conducive than ever and introduction of GST next year will make it even more attractive.

As you are aware, the Government is committed to promote the welfare of the Indian '" communities living abroad. It has taken a number of initiatives to reach out to Indian diaspora and strengthen their ties with India. The Embassy in Muscat is committed to provide the Indian community in Oman various passport and consular services in an efficient and timely manner. Also, we have been taking initiatives to reach out to the community including our workers and address their grievances related to their working and living conditions. We have made improvements in our systems and have made them more responsive. We have been organising open houses in other cities and visits to workers' camps. We have revived Indian business forum and I want to thank the Indian business community in Oman for your enthusiastic participation. We have allowed full use of the multi-purpose hall and the lawns of the Embassy for various events organised by the community.

Above all, we have kept the doors of the Embassy open to the community. You can visit us during working days and meet us, even without a prior appointment. I would like to request you to remain engaged with us through various means including telephone, email, SMS and social media like our websites, Facebook and twitter pages. Your feedback is very important for us. We are committed to respond to your messages and address, to the extent possible, the issues raised by you.

I want to thank the Indian community in Oman for the cooperation extended to the Embassy. Your cooperation has been exemplary and unconditional and I hope you will remain as indulgent towards me as you have been during my first year in Oman. I want to express my appreciation for the support provided by Indian Social Club Oman and its various branches and linguistic wings. Also our honourary consular agents, social workers and volunteers from within the community have also been making immense contribution in addressing various issues faced by our workers living in remote cities towns and villages. I thank you again for inviting me to join your celebration. Let us stay in touch and have a good evening.

H.E. Dr. AIi bin Ahmed Al-Isa'eei, Under Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdulmalik Abdulkarim AI Balushi, Chief Executive Officer, Oman Post, Fellow Ambassadors, distinguished Guests from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Oman Post, Sheikh Kanaksi Khimji, distinguished Members of Indian Community in Oman, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Evening


I am delighted to welcome you all to this ceremony dedicated to launch the special postal stamps being issued by Oman Post to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Oman in 1955 and thank you for your presence. I take this opportunity to convey the Government of India's appreciation for Oman Post and the Government of Oman for this initiative of issuing special postal stamps.


Of course, the historical relations between India and Oman are traced back to over 5000 years. For centuries Indians and Omanis have been engaged in trade and other exchanges which is manifested in the presence of Indian business families in Oman since 150 to 200 years and the close relationship which the Royal family of Oman enjoyed with India. The unveiling this evening of the special stamps being issued by Oman Post is, therefore, a momentous occasion to celebrate an important milestone in India-Oman relations. These historical stamps will remind our people, for years and decades to come, of the celebrations to mark the 60th Anniversary of diplomatic ties. These stamps also symbolize the importance that the two Governments and people of the two countries attach to their relationship.


During the past 60 years, under the wise leadership and guidance of HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, India-Oman relations have evolved into a strategic partnership, which is based on shared interests and values and respect for each other's priorities, concerns and sensitivities. This partnership is reflected in our exceptional cooperation in security matters, including counter terrorism, very close cooperation between our defence affairs as well as the growing bilateral trade and mutual investment. The exchanges between the two countries in the fields of education, culture and tourism have also been expanding.


This ceremony to unveil the special postal stamps is the concluding event of a series of events which the two countries organized to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of diplomatic ties. The year 2015 had begun with the visit of Honourable External Affairs Minister of India, Smt. Sushma Swaraj. Thereafter, a number of special events, including cultural performances, exhibitions, film festivals, lectures etc. were organized throughout the year. Other noteworthy events were the visit of four vessels of the Western Fleet of Indian Navy to Muscat in September 2015 and the joint voyage undertaken by sailing ships of India and Oman together from Muscat to Cochin in November- December 2015, following the traditional tradin9 route between India and Oman.


Both India and Oman remain committed to take their strategic partnership to a new level in the future to sub-serve their shared interests, including expanding their cooperation in security and defence matters, enhancing bilateral trade and mutual investments and expanding exchanges in the fields of education, culture and tourism. The two countries shall also continue to work together at regional and global fora to deal with the global and regional issues of shared interests and concerns.


The presence of Indians community in Oman, which dates back to over 200 years, has been a key factor in the development of India's relations with Oman into strategic partnership. Their role in building close cooperation between India and Oman has always been appreciated by the Governments and people of India and Oman. The Indian community in Oman, which numbers just under 800,000, has remained committed to contributing its utmost to the development of both Oman and India.


I would like to conclude by underlying again the historical importance of this ceremony. I thank again Oman Post for issuing these special postal stamps. I also thank the Government of Oman, in general, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in particular, for the support extended to the Indian Embassy in Muscat, enabling the Embassy to do its best for expanding cooperation between India and Oman in various domains. I take this opportunity to wish HM, on behalf of all of us, a long life and good health and wish Oman peace, happiness and prosperity under HM's leadership. I also thank all the distinguished guests for their benign presence which we highly appreciate. Thank you for your kind attention. Have a Good Evening.

I extend a warm welcome to you and thank you for joining this Reception. Even though I have been meeting with you on a regular basis and I had occasions to invite you earlier, this is the first formal reception being hosted by me since I joined Muscat as Ambassador over six months ago. Indian community has been very generous in welcoming me and extending its support to me and the Embassy. Indian community has also been an important pillar of support in strengthening India’s ties with Oman.


I would like to thank the community and various community organisations, including Indian Social Clubs in Muscat, Salalah and Sohar, for the cooperation extended to the Embassy and for their contribution to the development of close and strategic partnership between India and Oman, in particular in expansion of bilateral trade and mutual investments, promotion of Indian culture in Oman and educational and tourism exchanges. Indian community has also been making immense contribution to the welfare of the community, including through meeting the community’s cultural needs and rendering help to needy Indian workers.


I would like to appreciate the role of community volunteers and social workers, including the charity wing of Indian Social Club, in taking care of Indian workers, particularly in locations beyond the reach of the Embassy. Without their support it would not have been possible to connect to the workers living in far-off places. Indian Schools have also been playing a significant role in meeting the educational needs of the children of Indian community. I would like to express my appreciation for the role of teachers, principals, management committees of Indian Schools and the Board of Directors in providing quality education to our children. The role of community organisations and institutions involved in promoting Indian music, dance, art, languages and literature in Oman is also well-appreciated. They help the community in keeping their socio-cultural traditions alive through educating the young generation of India.


Given the pre-eminence of the Indian community in India’s relations with Oman, the Embassy attaches a high importance to the community’s welfare. We have also been working closely with the community organisations. With a view to reach out to the community, we have been participating in various social and cultural events organised by the community organisations, not only in Muscat but also in other cities and locations in Oman. We have been inviting the community to participate in various cultural, trade promotion and community-related events organised by the Mission. We have allowed various community organisations to hold their events at Embassy Auditorium and Lawns, except the events of commercial nature. We have followed an open door policy in welcoming members of Indian community to the Embassy. We are available to you whenever you would like to meet with us. Please let me know in case you are not able to meet me or any of the officers and staff-members.


Given the importance of the Indian business community in Oman in enhancing our trade and mutual investments with Oman, we have revived the Indian Business Forum. The first meeting of Forum was held in December last year. It received very enthusiastic response from Indian businessmen and professionals present in Oman. We will hold the next meeting of the India Business Forum in a couple of months. We will also support any initiative taken by the Indian business community in Oman to come together on a platform.


The Embassy has taken steps to enhance delivery of passport and consular services by the Service Provider and the Embassy. We value your feedback and I would like to request you to provide your feedback, in particular, on any specific problems faced by you. We will take further steps to address those issues. Please also let us have your suggestions on what else should we do to improve the delivery of these services.


Quick transport of mortal remains of deceased Indians to India has been a matter of concern. We have been working with the concerned Omani authorities towards streamlining the procedure for transport of mortal remains. We monitor various cases closely so as to ensure that in all cases the mortal remains are transported to India within days and in weeks only in rare cases. We have also streamlined the procedure to deal with the workers’ complaints and the problems faced by run-away female workers. All the complaints are now being followed closely with the concerned employers, labour offices, courts and Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Manpower of Oman.


As we felt that the key challenge that we face in Oman is the lack of direct access to thousands of Indian workers in Oman, who are living in various labour camps, we have taken some steps to reach out to them. We have started holding open houses in other cities; we have already held open houses in two cities so far – Jalan and Mudaibi – and we are planning to hold the next open house in March 2016. These open houses are being held in addition to the Open House held regularly in Muscat. We have also been visiting workers’ camps to meet and greet the workers. I take this opportunity to request you to do your utmost, wherever you have an opportunity, to address the issues which impact on the welfare of Indian workers, including their wages and living and working conditions. They are your fellow Indians and will appreciate your benign care to ensure their welfare.


In this context, I would like to mention that MigCall App, which we launched on 01 January 2016, has become quite popular and has been downloaded by over 12000 or so workers so far. They have been using it to contact Indian Embassies and Consulates in the Gulf region. I would like to thank and express my appreciation for the initiative taken by Mr. K Rejimon and Jose Chacko for developing this App. This App is a shining example of the ways in which the Indian community can help the Embassy in addressing various issues which impact on the welfare of Indian workers in Oman.


You are aware of the Indian Government’s commitment to the welfare of Indian communities abroad. Prime Minister has met with the Indian communities in all the countries he has visited. External Affairs Minister has been paying personal attention to the plight of Indians living abroad, including those who directly approach her through her Facebook and twitter accounts. The Government has recently decided to merge the MOIA with the MEA to make delivery of services and reach out to the community efficient and responsive. There should be no apprehension that this merger would lead to less attention to the various Schemes launched by the Government of India for Indian diaspora. It is only an administrative decision and all the schemes and initiatives launched by MOIA are being continued.


As you are also aware, the Government has re-modelled PBD to make it more interactive and productive. Now PBD will be organised in alternate years. So the next PBD will be held in 2017. In 2016, PBD was marked by address of External Affairs Minister to Indian communities abroad through video-linkages. Indian Embassies abroad were mandated to commemorate PBD with communities in their own ways. We had organised a PBD celebration in this Auditorium in which around 175 esteemed members of the community had taken part and we had extensive discussion on a number of topics of concern to the community.


Let me mention a few initiatives taken by the Government for promoting the welfare of the community. Madad portal is an important initiative as it enables any Indian to lodge a complaint electronically, which is raised to the Ministry and the concerned Embassy or the Consulate automatically. This has proved very useful in regular monitoring of the action taken to redress the grievances. E-migrate system is another important initiative to streamline and make transparent the process of recruitment of Indian workers by foreign employers.

The Government has also taken steps to facilitate investment by Indian Diaspora in India. I would like to mention here the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, which was launched in August last year, the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre, which is a not for profit public-private initiative for providing investment knowhow and business facilitation services, and the India Development Foundation for Overseas Indians, which is a not for profit trust established to serve as a credible institutional avenue to enable overseas Indians to engage in philanthropy to supplement India’s social and developmental efforts.


The Indian Government and people have high expectations from the Indian community to act as a bridge with the host Governments and people and to contribute to further strengthening of bilateral ties. The Government also expects the community to contribute to the success of various developmental initiatives like ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Clean India’ and ‘Smart Cities’. All of you have been successful in your businesses and professions and you have been contributing to the growth and development in Oman and in India. We expect you to transform your successes into India’s success. The Embassy will be keen to provide any further information or guidance required by you to facilitate your contribution to India’s developmental aspirations.


To conclude, I would like to reiterate our request for your cooperation in dealing with the issues related to the welfare of the Indian workers, promoting bilateral trade and investments, and enhancing contacts and interactions with Omani people, including cultural, educational and tourism exchanges. I thank you again for joining this reception and for your time and patience. I welcome any comments or observations by you. I believe our meetings should be interactive and I will be happy to answer your questions, if any.

Your Excellency, Ahmed Abdullah Mohammed AI Shuhi, Minister of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, Your Highness Sayyid Mohammed Salem AIi AI Said, Chief of Protocol, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Excellencies, distinguished guests, members of Indian community, mediapersons, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Evening.

I extend a warm welcome to you and thank you for joining us this evening to celebrate our 67th Republic day. On this auspicious Day, I extend my warm greetings to all fellow Indians living in India, in Oman, and in other countries. Sixty-six years ago, on this day, Republic of India was born. On that day, we gave ourselves the Constitution of India, which embodied the idea of India - the idea of unity in diversity, equal respect for all religions, cultures, customs, beliefs and values, equality, social justice and non-discrimination. Our Constitution has served us well and the institutions of democracy which we have established under it have endured and ensured to all our citizens justice, equality, and equity.

We are proud of our achievements during these 66 years. India today is the world's largest and, perhaps, the most vibrant democracy. It is recognised as a global power. India's leading role in global affairs, through global and regional fora like the UN, G-20, BRICS and SAARC, has been welcomed and encouraged. India is fast emerging as a global leader in science, technology and innovation, as evident in India's achievements in space, nuclear energy, bio-technology, information technology, medicine etc.

Excellencies, distinguished guests,

In spite of the challenges posed by global economic turbulences, India's economic growth has remained high. This year, with an estimated growth rate of 7.5 per cent, India is poised to become the fastest growing major economy of the world. The Make-in-India project, launched by PM Modi in September 2014, is expected to boost manufacturing. The Start-up India Programme, which PM Modi launched earlier this month, will foster innovation and encourage new-age entrepreneurship. The National Skill Development Mission envisages skilling 300 million youth by 2022. The Digital India Programme aims to bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural India and the rich and poor.

With investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, health, education, research and development, India is likely to continue on a high growth path, which will, in the next couple of decades, help us eliminate poverty and illiteracy, provide our people better education and health facilities and give them social security benefits. In spite of our tremendous achievements, we continue to face enormous challenges in achieving our goal of providing better life and equal opportunities to our people. Millions and millions of young and aspiring Indians, including those living abroad, are committed to overcoming these challenges and working together to build a India of their dreams.

Excellencies, distinguished guests,

India's civilizational message to the world is embodied in the prayer sarve bhavantu sukhinah, let everyone be happy. In line with its ancient belief of Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam: the world is a family, India has remained committed to developing friendly, cooperative and mutually beneficial ties with other countries, including the countries in our neighbourhood. We have been working bilaterally, regionally and globally with the like-minded countries in dealing with global issues like recurring economic and financial turbulences, trade protectionism, climate change, pandemics and the scourge of terrorism, which has emerged into its most barbaric manifestation. No country can now consider itself safe from the reach of terrorist groups. There is no good or bad terrorism; it is pure evil. All the countries need to work together to defeat terrorist groups by denying them ideological space and safe havens, curbing supply of arms and finances, and sharing intelligence and best practices.

Excellencies, distinguished guests,

In 2015, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between India and Oman. A number of events were organised throughout the year to commemorate this milestone. You are familiar with these developments. So, I will not go into details. India and Oman, maritime neighbours across the Arabian Sea, have a shared history of five thousand years, which is manifested in common cultural traditions and customs.

Since renaissance in Oman, in 1970, under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said AI Said, India's relations with Oman have evolved into a strategic partnership, which is manifested in our close security and defence cooperation and growing trade and mutual investments. Cultural, tourism and educational exchanges have also been growing. Our partnership with Oman is based on shared values and traditions, excellent people-to- people relations and mutual recognition and respect for each other's interests, concerns, and priorities. Leaders of the two countries are committed to upscale our strategic partnership to a new level.

The presence of a large Indian community in Oman is an important facet of India's relations with Oman. Indian businessmen, professionals and workers have been contributing, for decades, to the development of Oman, which has been recognized by the Government and people of Oman. The strength of Indian community in Oman has been growing, which is an indication of the Omani Government's benign care of the Indian community.

The Indian community in Oman has also been contributing to the development of India. I would like to assure the Indian community in Oman that the Government of India is committed to do everything possible to promote their welfare. The Indian Government and the Embassy have been working closely with the concerned authorities of Oman to resolve the issues which impact on the working and living conditions of Indians living in Oman. The Embassy is dedicated to work with the Indian community and take steps which will enable timely and efficient delivery of various passport, consular and welfare services to the community. I want to thank community leaders, social workers and volunteers for their assistance and cooperation with the Embassy in dealing with community welfare issues.

Before I conclude, I would like to express our gratitude to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said AI Said for his commitment and attention to further expanding and deepening the strategic partnership between India and Oman. We wish him a long and healthy life and success in all his endeavours towards development and progress of Oman. I thank also the Council of Oman, various Ministries and organs of the Government, in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Omani business community and other Omani friends of India for their contribution towards strengthening India-Oman relations. I thank you all for sparing your valuable time this evening to be with us which has made this celebration a truly memorable one. Thank you. Jai Hind.

Your Excellency Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Obaid al Sa'eedi, Minister of Health, Your Highness Mohammed Salim Ali Al-Said, Chief of Protocol, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Miss Iman Mutlaq, Miss Kaushani Desai, Mr. Ajay Khimji and Mrs. Kamal Khimji, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good Evening. I extend a very warm welcome to you and thank you for joining this Yoga and Ayurveda Session. I express my thanks and gratitude to Honourable Minister of Health for his presence this evening which is a source of inspiration for all Yoga enthusiasts in Oman. I would like to convey my special thanks to His Highness Mohammed Salim Ali Al-Said for his kind presence and his support to various activities organised by Indian Embassy in Oman. I take this opportunity to convey my best wishes to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said and thank him for his benign care of the Indian community in Oman and for allowing the Indian community to practice their religions and organise various social and cultural events, including Yoga Sessions.


As our Prime Minister had stated in his address to the UN General Assembly in September 2014, Yoga is an invaluable gift of Indian civilisation to the world. The declaration by the UN General Assembly in December 2014 through a unanimous resolution the 21st June as International Day of Yoga, was a recognition by international community that Yoga, an ancient heritage of India, provides a holistic approach to health and well-being and that a wider dissemination of information about the benefits of practicing Yoga would be beneficial for the health of the people.


The Yoga session this evening is an endeavour to make Yoga more popular in Oman. It is dedicated to demonstrating Yoga’s relevance in balancing the demands of a busy work-life and the imperatives of keeping good health. Today most of us need to deal everyday with stressful situations both in our work and personal lives. I thank Art of Living for joining hands with the Embassy of India in Oman for organising this Session, which I hope we all would find useful. I want to thank Ms. Iman Mutlaq, a renowned Yoga scholar and a recipient of ‘Middle East Woman of the Year 2015 Award’ for accepting our request to be the Keynote Speaker. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian tradition of medicine which aims at providing holistic health to the people. I would like to thank Ms. Kaushani Desai for accepting our proposal to introduce Ayurveda cooking to you, which you may find very rewarding.


Yoga is usually regarded as a set of Asanas aimed at enhancing physical fitness and health. Yoga is derived from the word ‘Yuj’ which means to join. In its philosophical sense, Yoga means the individual soul joining the God or the Supreme Soul. There is more to yoga than Asanas, which are, only one of the various other practices essential to become a yogi.


The scholars present here this evening will be able to elaborate more on the evolution of Yoga as a philosophy and a popular practice in India. There is a vast literature on various kinds of yoga. A few popular ones are hathayoga, rajayoga, sahajyoga etc. I hope this Session on Yoga will spur you to find more about various traditions and practices of yoga. I believe Yoga, which is based on the belief that a healthy mind lives in a healthy body, can help people all over the world in living a healthier and happier life. Yoga can also help the Governments all over the world to reduce their huge health budgets if it is integrated into their health systems.


This session on Yoga is one of the series of Yoga events which we plan to organise in run up to the Second International Yoga Day which we will celebrate on 21st June 2016. We have been receiving excellent cooperation from the Government of Oman and I hope we will continue to have the blessings of the Government of Oman in future too. Art of Living in Oman has been an enthusiastic partner of Indian Embassy in organising various Yoga events in Muscat and elsewhere. I would like to request other Yoga organisations in Oman to come forward to join the Indian Embassy in organising various Yoga events to celebrate the International Day of Yoga. I thank you all again for your participation tonight and wish you all a long, healthy and happy life.



Salam Aaleykum, Good Evening, Namaskaram,


I am happy to join you at the 4th International Meelad Conference in Muscat. I want to thank ICF Oman for inviting me and commend their initiative to organise this Conference. I extend a warm welcome to Raeesul Ulama Mr. E Sulaiman Musliyar in Muscat and various delegates and Moulid Teams who have come from India, Oman, and other countries. I extend my greetings to all of you on this auspicious occasion.


I extend my greetings to all my Muslim brothers and sisters on the auspicious occasion of the Birthday of the Prophet, Eid Meelad-ul-Nabi, (peace be upon Him). May you all be blessed with a long and healthy life, full of peace, happiness and prosperity. This Conference is dedicated to celebrating, remembering and showing our gratitude. It is also an opportunity for rejuvenating our souls and strengthening our belief.


This holy occasion also gives us an opportunity to introspect on how well we have followed the path shown by Allah and the example provided by the Prophet (peace be upon Him) through his own life and conduct, including protecting the weak in our society. With no sphere of life in which he did not provide an excellent tradition, his Birthday provides an opportunity to look into our hearts to see whether we are doing justice to his example. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon Him) provided a model of tolerance and goodwill and patience towards all mankind, and all religions. The Prophet (peace be upon Him) introduced modernity in a dark era, while, in the present day, regressive forces want to plunge us back into darkness in the name of religion. It is our responsibility to teach children and educate people about his message and example of his own life. It should be our effort to present the true message of Islam.


India is a shining example to the world of peaceful co-existence of different religions and cultures. Islam, since its advent in India, has enriched India's cultural, social and religious traditions leading to evolution of a composite Indian culture. Our civilizational message has been unity in diversity. We are not scared of immense ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic and social diversity in India. We celebrate this diversity, which underlines the idea of India. It is fully evident in the way Indian community in Oman comes together, irrespective of their religious belief, to celebrate various festivals and religious occasions and joins hands in providing assistance to fellow Indians living in Oman. Indian community has been living peacefully in Oman which reflects our ancient belief of Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam, the world is a family.


I wish this International Meelad Conference a great success. I hope this Conference will be successful in underlining the fact that Islam is a religion of peace and progress and universal brotherhood based on the concept of oneness of humanity. Service to our fellow human beings, particularly those who are socially and economically disadvantaged, should be our essential goal. I would like to conclude by wishing you all again happy Eid Meelad-ul-Nabi and a happy New Year. Thanks for your patience.

Excellencies, distinguished guests, friends from media, ladies and gentlemen, Good Evening

I extend a warm welcome to you all and thank you for joining us this evening at the launch of "Vastram- Splendid World of Indian Textiles". Today is a local holiday and your presence this evening is highly appreciated. I want to thank the Indian Council of Cultural Relations for sending this collection to Muscat. I also thank the Government of Oman for facilitating and enabling this display. I am grateful to Lulu Group for not only providing the venue but also organising cultural performances and giving publicity to this Exhibition. Their team worked very closely with the Embassy to make this exhibition possible. I want to convey my deep appreciation to the community organisations for their contribution. I hope our collective efforts will be successful in persuading thousands of visitors who come to the Mall to also visit this Exhibition.

It is believed that it was in Indian subcontinent 8000 years ago that for the first time cotton yarn was spun and woven into a garment. Recent archaeological discoveries in Harappa suggest that sericulture, employing wild silk threads from native silkworm species, existed in South Asia during the time of Indus Valley Civilization dating between 2500 BC and 2000 BC. Textiles have since been an integral part of the development of India's civilisation, including its art, culture and traditions. It was the evolution of textile industry on river banks that formed the basis of the development of India's economy and population.

It is not surprising that, given the centrality of textiles in India's history and culture, Mahatma Gandhi made the revival of India's cotton industry, through encouraging household spinning of cotton yarn and weaving of khadi, his key goal, which soon became a potent symbol of self-reliance. The industrialization in India began with setting up of textile mills in various parts of India and the textile industry today is the second largest employment generating sector in India. It offers direct employment to over 35 million persons besides indirect employment to millions more. The present Government has attached a huge importance to popularizing use of khadi, a hand woven fabric made from cotton or silk yarn, in India and abroad. It has also taken initiatives to preserve and promote India's old textile traditions, including the handloom and cottage textiles, which are a major source of employment in rural India.

There is evidence that Indian textiles were being exported as early as 5th century BC. Indian textiles were a principal commodity of trade in the pre- industrial age and were prized for their fineness in weave, brilliance in color, rich variety in designs and a dyeing technology which achieved a brightness of color unrivalled in the world. From the 16th century, Indian cotton textiles achieved global reach through trade dominating the world's textile market. During the late 17th and 18th century there were large exports of Indian cotton textiles to the western countries. After going through a period of decline in 19th and 20th Centuries during the colonial rule, Indian textiles have, since independence, regained their status as the textile of choice throughout the world.

India's composite culture has evolved by absorbing new influences from abroad and making them her own. We celebrate our diversity while taking pride in the underlying unity. India's rich diversity is evident in India's hugely varied textile traditions - in our sarees, turbans, dress-materials, linen etc. There is an immense variety in Indian textiles in terms of the materials used - cotton, silk, wool, jute, synthetic yarn etc. - and the processes used to make them like spinning, weaving, dyeing, printing and embroidering. Apart from regional diversities in terms of use of materials, colours and patterns, textiles are also made for different purposes and usage.

The purpose of Vastram is to showcase this diversity of Indian textiles coming from different regions of India to the friendly people of Oman. Oman is a maritime neighbour of India and people to people relations and exchanges, including trade, have been a key enabling factor in evolution of India's historical ties with Oman. People of Oman have been aware of India's textiles and textile making traditions. As the tourism between the two countries is growing, there is a growing mutual awareness of diverse cultures of India and Oman. I hope Vastram will go a long way in creating a better and deeper understanding in Oman of India's diverse textile traditions. Hopefully, it will also lead to better awareness of Indian culture and more trade in textiles.

To conclude, I thank you all again for joining this ceremony and hope you enjoy the Display. I wish you a very good evening and a good week-end. Thank you.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Evening

I am delighted to join you at the opening of Incredible India Tourism Road Show in Muscat, which has been jointly organized by the Embassy and India Tourism Office in Dubai. I extend a warm welcome and thank you all for your presence. I also want to thank the organisers of this Show for their hard work.


As you are aware, Oman is a maritime neighbor of India and the historical relations between the two countries are traced back to 5000 years. This year, we have been celebrating the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. India- Oman relations are broad-based and multi-faceted, with strategic dimensions.


An important dimension of this relationship has been people-to- people relations, forged through trade and tourism. Tourism exchanges between India and Oman play an important role in enhancing mutual understanding of each other's culture, history, customs and traditions. They also open up opportunities for more business, trade, investment as well as educational and cultural exchanges. The Embassy, therefore, accords a high priority to promoting tourism between India and Oman.


It appears that India is emerging as an attractive destination for people of Oman for tourism, including medical tourism. The Embassy had issued over 82,000 visas in 2014, which amounted to an increase of 39% over 59,000 Visas issued during 2013. There has been, during the first 9 months of 2015, an increase of 17% in the number of visas issued by the Embassy over the same period in 2014 and if the present trend continues, during the rest of the year, we may reach close to 100,000 visas this year. It may be noted that 97% of visas issued by the Embassy are either for tourism or medical purposes.


India has emerged as a favourite destination for health and wellness tourism for people of Oman. In order to facilitate medical tourism to India, a separate window is being opened at the Indian Visa Centre in Muscat run by M/ s. BLS. It will allow us to expeditiously process visa applications for visits to India for medical treatment.


The purpose of this Road Show is to highlight the various opportunities available for tourism in India and to bring together travel and tour operators from India and Oman with a view to encourage them to work together for enhancing tourism exchanges between the two countries. I am quite encouraged by the presence of representatives of a large number of Indian and Omani travel and tourism companies and the Embassy will continue to work with India Tourism in future to encourage more tourism to India. I would like to assure you that Embassy will continue to take steps to address various issues related to travel to India, including visa related Issues.


I would like to wish this Incredible India Tourism Road Show a big success and hope that various presentations and interactions planned for this evening will result in more travel and tourism from Oman to India. Before I conclude, I would like to thank India Tourism, Dubai for joining hands with the Embassy in organizing this Road Show and the support we always receive for promoting tourism from Oman to India.

Your Highness Sayyed Faisal bin Turki AI said, Pankaj Khimji, distinguished participants from Oman and India, friends from media, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning.


I extend a warm welcome to you and thank you for your presence. I would like to express my thanks to 'Ithara' as well as CII for organising this Oman- India Investment Meet and for inviting me to speak to you. I wish to commend Ithara for their timely initiative to organise this Meet which, I believe, will be useful in promoting mutual investments.


As you are aware, India and Oman are close maritime neighbours and our historical relations are traced back to five thousand years and beyond. Our bilateral relations are broad based and comprehensive and are imbued with strategic dimensions. We cooperate and work closely on regional and global issues of mutual interest. The two Governments attach a high importance to their strategic partnership and are committed to expand and deepen it.


Trade and investment relations are an important component of our exceptionally close partnership. Our bilateral trade has been growing and had reached $ 5.7 billion in 2013. However, it declined to $ 4.1 billion last year due primarily to steep decline in oil prices. We hope to work together with Indian and Omani business communities to increase the bilateral trade.


I am happy to note that bilateral investments have also been growing. It is estimated that there are over 1500 Indo-Omani joint ventures with investment of around US$ 7.5 billion, out of which Indian investment is estimated at US$ 4.5 billion. You are aware of mega investment projects like Oman-India Fertilizers Company or OMIFCO, Jindal-Shadeed Iron and Steel plant, L&T's four joint ventures with the Zubair Group etc. India is the largest investor in Salalah Port and Free Zone. Indian companies have also invested in Sohar and Duqum Free Zones. Bharat-Oman Refinery Ltd in Bina is an example of major investments from Oman into India. The Oman-India Joint Investment Fund (OIJIF), a special purpose vehicle, has emerged as a useful instrument for promoting mutual investments. The first tranche of US$ 100 million has been fully deployed and the second tranche is being finalised.


We all recognise that foreign direct as well as institutional investments create employment opportunities, enable transfer of technology, encourage innovation and lead to more trade. Therefore, the Governments of both India and Oman have been keen to promote mutual investments. The Indian Embassy in Muscat accords a high priority to promoting mutually beneficial investments and is keen to join hands with the relevant Omani organisations like Ithara, banks and investment funds to achieve these goals. The Embassy has been organising events to promote trade and investments, including business to business meets, investment seminars etc. We have facilitated visits by business delegations from India to Oman and from Oman to India and participation of Indian and Omani enterprises in various trade fairs, exhibitions and trade and investment promotion events.


As I understand, the purpose of this Meet is to encourage investments by Indian companies into Oman and we fully support this goal. I would like to assure Indian companies, which are keen to invest in Oman, that the Embassy will extend its fullest cooperation and provide all possible information and assistance to them. I hope today's Meet will help Indian companies understand the excellent opportunities for investments offered by Oman, particularly in infrastructure, logistics, health and educational projects. They will also get an opportunity to learn about the facilities offered to foreign investors for investments into Sur Industrial estate, Port and Free Zone of Salalah, Sohar Port and Free Zone and Duqum Special Economic Zone.


I would like to take this opportunity to highlight also the opportunities for investments into India from Oman, even though this is not the focus of today's Meet. As you are aware, the fast growing Indian economy, which is the third largest economy of the world on purchasing power parity basis, offers very good opportunities for investments from Oman into India, particularly in infrastructure as well as manufacturing sectors. Prime Minister's flagship projects like Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, the various industrial corridors, etc. offer vast opportunities for profitable investments. The Government has taken a number of initiatives to improve the business environment in India and today India is rated as one of the most attractive destination for investments, due to its strong economic fundamentals, rising demand for consumer goods, favourable demography and democratic governance. The Embassy is keen to provide its services to facilitate investments by Omani companies into India.


In this context, I am happy to announce that the Government of India has decided to observe in February (13-18) 2016 a "Make in India" week in Mumbai with a view to connect India with global industry leaders, investors, funds and banks. The relevant Omani organisations, like Ithara, funds, banks and companies are invited to participate in this Event with a view to learn about the investment opportunities in India. The Embassy will facilitate their participation.


I conclude by thanking His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said AI Said and the Government of Oman for the priority accorded to expanding the strategic partnership with India. I thank again Ithara for organising this Meet. I also thank CII for bringing a few Indian companies to this Meet. I want to assure Indian and Omani companies that the Indian Embassy will extend its support in expanding your trade and investment businesses both in India and Oman.

Thank you.

Your Excellency, Dr AIi Bin Saud AI Bemani, Sister Arti, Excellencies, fellow Ambassadors, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good evening


I extend a very warm welcome to you all. I offer my profound thanks and gratitude to you for joining us on a Friday evening. We have assembled here to commemorate the 146th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the 8th anniversary of the International Day of Non-Violence. As you are aware, in June 2007, the United Nations General Assembly had declared znd October, Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, as the International Day of Non-Violence. It was a reaffirmation of the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence and an expression of the universal desire to live in peace and harmony. The UNGA Resolution had invited all UN Member States to disseminate the message of non- violence, including through education and public awareness. This commemoration is a small effort by us to realize that goal. And I want to thank the Rajyoga Centre for Self-Development for their initiative to partner with the Embassy in organising this event.


I would like to begin by paying my homage to Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation, and the apostle of truth, non-violence and peace. You are familiar with Mahatma Gandhi's contribution to India's freedom struggle and how through non-violent mass protests and non-cooperation movements he forced the then mightiest British Empire to grant India independence in 1947. You are also aware how India's independence and Mahatma Gandhi's message of non-violence inspired freedom movements in other colonies and the struggle against the scourge of racial discrimination whether in the United States or South Africa.


Mahatma Gandhi continues to inspire people across the globe in their struggle against various forms of injustice and discrimination. The non-violent and peaceful mass protest movements in different parts of the world are testimony to the continued relevance of the principle of non-violence which Gandhiji espoused and practiced. When we look around us, we see manifestations of violence everywhere in one form or other, including the deliberate and inhumane acts of violence perpetrated by terrorist groups. The principle of non-violence, as manifested in peaceful and non-violent conduct, tolerance and harmonious co- existence, is more relevant today than ever.


The principle of non-violence and pursuit of truth through peaceful means is at the heart of the ideals of peaceful co-existence, respect for diversity, tolerance for other faiths and beliefs, democratic governance, and peaceful resolution ofdisputes through dialogue. With a view to illustrate Gandhiji's views on truth, non-violence and Satyagraha, which can be translated as peaceful insistence on truth, I would like to quote here Mahatma Gandhiji "My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realising Him".


For Gandhiji, non-violence was the weapon of a strong and not a weak person as it requires a strong will to continue to pursue the path of peaceful protest against various provocations and use of force. Gandhiji said and I quote again "Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man". It was not an ideal for him to be pursued in isolation. It was rather a potent and practical means for mobilizing people in various parts of India to join peaceful protest movements which could not be crushed through the use of force by the British Empire.


Gandhiji did not invent the principle of non-violence. It has always been an integral part of Indian civilization. Vedas spoke about the philosophy of sarve bhavantu sukhinah and vasudhaiv kutumbakam. Non-violence was at the core of the philosophy of Lord Buddha and Mahavira. Emperor Ashoka after his victory in Utkal gave up the path of conquest and violence and spread Lord Buddha's message of non-violence and peace to various parts of the world.


Gandhiji's commitment to the principle of non-violence was profound; he suspended the non-cooperation movement in 1922 after a single instance of violence against a police station. Gandhiji was opposed to any kind of discrimination or intolerance whether based on race or religion or personal belief. For him intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.


When we see around us so much, violence, indiscriminate use of force, intolerance for other faiths and beliefs it is easy to lose faith. Gandhiji firmly believed in inherent goodness of humankind. He said and I quote "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Let us be optimistic that eventually the principle of non-violence and peaceful co-existence will prevail. It is, therefore, essential that we teach the children and youth the virtues of non-violence, peaceful pursuit of truth, harmonious co-existence and tolerance for other faiths and beliefs. Let us spread the message of Gandhiji through education and awareness as far and wide as possible.


Before I conclude, I would like to commend the efforts made by Rajyoga Centre for self-Development in spreading the message of non-violence and peace among the children and youth in Oman. Let us give them a big hand for their contribution.


I hope the worldwide commemoration of the international day of non-violence will help in creating a more peaceful and less violent world for us and for the generations to come. I want to thank you all again for your presence which is also a reflection of your commitment and support to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence. Thank you for your time and patience.



We are assembled here this evening to commemorate the 50th anniversary of 1965 war with Pakistan. It was on 22nd September 1965, 50 years ago, that a ceasefire was called by the UN. Four months later, the Tashkent Declaration was signed in January 1966, bringing an end to the war. I thank Indian Social Club Muscat for their initiative to organize this commemoration to celebrate the golden jubilee of India's victory in its 1965 war. I am thankful to all the distinguished guests for joining this assembly to celebrate an important episode in the history of our country since independence.


Our armed forces fought bravely in 1965 war, showing tremendous courage and valour, in a war which was launched stealthily by Pakistan. It was the second war, which Pakistan waged against India to force its claim to Jammu and Kashmir State of India; the first was the 1947-48 war, which was also launched stealthily. It is our solemn duty as a nation to remember our brave soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice in defending our borders. We pay our homage to their valour and courage. We are also grateful to their families, who showed their love for the nation in accepting the loss of their loved ones with immense courage and pride. In honouring our soldiers, who sacrificed their lives with unflinching determination to defeat the enemy, we show our eternal gratitude to them and their families.


As you are aware, the Government of India has organized a month-long "celebration" to mark the 50th anniversary of 1965 war, including a "victory carnival," which was held two days ago. The golden jubilee of 1965 war provides us an opportunity to not only remember the sacrifices made by our soldiers but also educate a large majority of our people who were either in their childhood when the war took place or who are born after the war like me and many of you. The stories of immense courage and unmatched valour, under very adverse and challenging circumstances, must be told again and again, so that we do not forget either the challenges of 1965 war or the lessons that it taught us.


Why did Pakistan choose to initiate the 1965 war? As you know, India had lost the 1962 war with China. Then, PM Nehru died in May 1964 and we had a new PM, Lal Bahadur Shastri. Pakistan thought India was weak under a new leadership and it had a golden opportunity to snatch Jammu and Kashmir by force. It believed that it had better weapons than India and that demoralized Indian forces would not be able to fight back.


The genesis of 1965 War is traced back to Operation Desert Hawk, launched by Pakistan's Army in the region of Rann of Kutch in April 1965. It was their belief that the window to force a resolution of Jammu and Kashmir on terms favorable to them was closing that encouraged Field Marshal Ayub Khan and his Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to plan and launch Operation Gibraltar in August 1965. Operation Gibraltar followed the familiar tactics of Pakistan's use of its regular and irregular forces to cross the Ceasefire Line (CFL) and foment a local insurgency against Indian Administration. Ayub chose to motivate his troops by naming the offensive after the Arab conquest of Gibraltar in 711 AD.


However, much to the surprise of the invading forces of Pakistan, the local population in Jammu and Kashmir not only refused to cooperate but also alerted and handed over many infiltrators to Indian troops. India, caught by surprise, rushed in additional troops to neutralize the infiltration and launched a counter-attack across the CFL, eventually taking Haji Pir Pass, which served as Pakistan's main logistic base for Operation Gibraltar. The failure of operation Gibraltar notwithstanding, the Pakistan Army launched an offensive across Jammu and Kashmir's Chamb sector, with the aim of capturing Akhnur, which would have logistically cut the Indian Army off areas west of the Chenab River.


This attack, codenamed Operation Grand Slam, was launched on September 1, and forced the Indian forces to fall back to Akhnur. With Chamb under significant pressure and Pakistan's offensive proceeding on multiple axes, India's then Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, decided to open another front by attacking Pakistan across the IB on September 6. The Indian and Pakistani armies fought for next 15 days during the course of which Indian army won a number of victories. Indian armed forces would have achieved eventually a decisive victory over Pakistan but a ceasefire was called by the UN on September 22.


Pakistan did not learn any lessons from 1965 war. Its ploy to use irregulars to camouflage operations by its regular forces was exposed and its belief that it would be able to incite an insurgency and secure the support of the people of Jammu and Kashmir against India was belied. If Pakistan had drawn the right lessons from 1965 and 1971 wars, it would not have dared infiltrate across LoC again in 1999 in Kargil. Again, as in 1965 and 1971, our forces responded with unmatched courage and bravery, some of which we witnessed for the first time live on our TV sets. Pakistan was defeated this time decisively, facing international diplomatic isolation, as it stood accused of violating the LoC and launching a war against India. Pakistan had once again failed in achieving its goal of 'liberating' Jammu and Kashmir, what it arrogantly calls the unfinished agenda of the partition.


What is amazing, though not surprising, is that despite its defeats in all the wars that it has launched against India, since partition, Pakistan has not learnt any lessons and continues to believe that by engaging in terrorist acts against India, in Jammu and Kashmir, and other parts of India, through its proxies, it would somehow be able to compel India to cede Jammu and Kashmir to it what it has failed to achieve through its three wars. The consequences of its use of terror as a state policy, for the polity, economy and society of Pakistan, have not deterred its political and military leaders from continuing to pursue the same policy.


We, therefore, need to remain alert and prepared, and our Government and our armed forces are prepared to meet any misadventure on part of Pakistan's armed forces. We, the citizens of India, including those who are resident outside India, like you, can contribute to India's defence by doing our duties earnestly for realizing the developmental, socio-political as well as diplomatic goals of India. Let us resolve on this solemn occasion to do our best for the defence of our country and for the welfare of our people.


The Indian community in Oman has contributed in various ways in expanding the strategic relations between India and Oman as well as in promoting the welfare of the fellow NRIs, living in Oman. I would like to commend the contribution being made by the Indian Social Club Muscat as well as its linguistic wings through their various social and cultural activities in meeting the educational, social and cultural needs of the Indian community. We also appreciate the role played by the volunteers in reaching out to NRIs living in far-off places in Oman. The Indian Embassy is committed to work with the Indian community in realizing our common goals.


I take this opportunity to offer our best wishes to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said AI Said for a long and healthy life and thank the Government of Oman for providing the enabling environment in which the relationship with India has evolved into a strategic partnership and the Indian community has prospered. I wish all our Indian and Omani brothers and sisters a happy and prosperous Eid.


I want to conclude by paying our humble homage to brave Indian soldiers, who made the supreme sacrifice and won the 1965 war. I thank and express our immense gratitude to our brave soldiers, as well as paramilitary and other security personnel, for securing the country against both external and internal threats, often working and living in very adverse conditions.


Thank you for your kind attention. Jai Hind. Jai Hind ki Sena.



Excellencies, Defence Attaches, Officers from Royal Navy, Air Force and Army of Oman, Representatives of the Government of Oman, Friends from Indian Community, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Good Evening.


I extend a warm welcome to you onboard INS Deepak. Thank you very much for joining this reception. We are grateful to you for sparing your time to spend this evening with us.


As you are aware, India and Oman are maritime neighbours, joined together by Indian Ocean. Our historical and civilizational relations are traced back to several millennia. The people of India and Oman have been engaged, since time immemorial, in cultural, trade and other exchanges. These relations have continued to grow through centuries, as reflected in the presence of a large number of Indian origin families in Oman, who have been living in Oman for decades and centuries. The relationship between the two countries has continued to expand further since we attained the independence in 1947.


Since the renaissance in Oman, under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the relationship between India and Oman has evolved into a strategic partnership. Bilateral defence cooperation has emerged as an important pillar of this partnership. The defence forces of India and Oman have been engaged extensively in exchange of visits and participation in training programmes. They have been carrying out joint exercises, which encompass all the three Forces - the Army, the Air Force and the Navy.


The naval cooperation between the two countries has progressed significantly during last few years. Indian Naval Ships have been docking at Salalah Port for operational turnaround, including as part of their anti-piracy operations. They have also been visiting Muscat Port on bilateral visits. We are thankful to His Majesty’s Government and the Royal Navy of Oman for the cooperation rendered during the visits of Indian Naval Ships to Salalah, Muscat and other ports of Oman.


With a view to give a further boost to the cooperation between the Navies of the two countries, Commander of Royal Navy of Oman visited India earlier this month and held extensive talks with Chief of Naval Staff of India. In two months, INS Tarangini Indian Navy’s sailing ships, and Omani sailing ship, Shabab Oman will be sailing together from Muscat to Kochi to underline the salience of the age-old maritime tradition between the two countries. We are also happy that Royal Navy of Oman will be taking part in International Fleet Review which will be held in February 2016 off eastern coast of India.


The visit of the Western Fleet of Indian Navy to Oman is taking place this year as part of the celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between the two countries. Due to unavoidable circumstances, Commanding Officer of the Western Fleet could not visit Oman on this occasion. While we miss his presence, I extend a warm welcome to Commanding Officers of the 4 Indian ships – INS Delhi, INS Deepak, INS Tabar and INS Trishul.


There is no gain mentioning to an informed audience like you the capabilities and the reach of Indian Navy. I would like to only note that Indian Navy has been engaged in mutually beneficial cooperation with friendly navies, including joint bilateral and multilateral exercises. These 4 ships of Western Fleet have been on a goodwill visit to the GCC countries with Muscat as their last and the perhaps most significant port of call.


The present visit of 4 ships of the Western Fleet of Indian Navy to Muscat will, I believe, prove to be an important milestone in our defence cooperation, in general, and the naval cooperation, in particular with Oman. Both the Government of India as well as the Government of Oman are keen to expand the strategic partnership between the two countries in various areas, including in defence, trade & investment, education, culture, tourism, etc.


The GCC countries are very important neighbours of India, as part of India’s extended neighbourhood. It is only natural that Indian Navy has engaged in goodwill and outreach visits to friendly Navies of the GCC countries in order to enhance mutual understanding with them.


India attaches a high importance to its relationship with GCC countries, which are not only a critical source of oil and gas for us but also provide valuable opportunities for employment to millions of Indians – professionals and workers – who send annually around US$ 70 billion as remittances to India. The trade and investment ties with the Gulf countries have also been growing and the Gulf region has emerged as India’s largest trade partner as well as a significant source of investment.


I take this opportunity to thank the Commanding Officers, other officers and sailors of the 4 ships for the trouble that that they have taken in sailing to Muscat. I want to assure them the Embassy’s full cooperation during the rest of their stay in Muscat. I hope the officers and the sailors will find time to visit cultural and historical sites in Muscat, its attractive shopping malls, and traditional souks, with a view to get a glimpse of the development and progress that Oman has achieved under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said.


I would like to convey our best wishes for a long and healthy life to His Majesty and our thanks to the Government of Oman for the priority accorded to the relationship with India and for the patronage extended to the Indian community in Oman.


20th September 2015


Onboard INS Deepak

Your Highness Dr Adham Turki AI Said, Chairman, Your Excellency, Dr AIi Saud AI-Bemani, Vice Chancellor, Sultan Qaboos University, Your Excellency, Ambassador of the UK to Oman, distinguished speakers, participants and organisers of Oman SME Summit, Good Morning, Salaam Aaleykum.


I am happy to join you this morning to provide you a brief outline of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Sector in India and to propose a role for India in the development of the SME sector in Oman.


Before I do so, I commend the organisers of this Summit, IFM Events, for their timely and useful initiative to organize this Summit and to focus on the development of SMEs in Oman and for inviting me to speak before you.


As you are aware, the Indian economy is again growing at a fast pace of over 7% thanks to its inherent strengths, strong fundamentals and the initiatives taken by the Government to ease the environment for doing business in India, improvethe infrastructure, and launche flagship projects like 'Make in India', Skill India' and 'Digital India'. Indian economy is being seen as one of the bright spots and a factor of stability amidst the global economic turmoil.



The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector in India has emerged as a highly vibrant and dynamic sector of the Indian economy over the last five decades. The importance of this sector is evident in the fact that there is a separate Ministry to deal with the development of MSMEs in India. The NSIC and SME Chamber of Commerce and Industry also play an important role.


The MSMEs in India have played a crucial role in providing 1arge employment opportunities at comparatively lower capital cost as compared to large industries, which are capital intensive. They have contributed in industrialization of rural and backward areas, thereby, reducing regional imbalances and assuring a more equitable distribution of national income and wealth. The MSME sector has been instrumental in spreading the industrial growth across the country and a major partner in the process of inclusive growth. MSMEs have thus contributed enormously to the socio-economic development of India.


The MSME Sector in India comprises 36 million units, as of today, and it provides employment to over 80 million persons. This Sector through more than 6,000 products contributes about 8% to India's GDP, amounting to around 45% of the total manufacturing output and 40% of India's exports.


I believe, the SME sector in Oman, like in India, can play an important role in achieving the key economic goals of the Government of Oman like diversification of the economy, inclusive development of agriculture, industries and services sector across various regions of Oman and creation of employment opportunities for Omani youth through creation of thousands of small and medium enterprises across various sectors.


I am quite confident that deliberations at this SME Summit over two days by various stakeholders who are taking part in this Summit will result in concrete ideas and initiatives for sustainable development of SMEs in Oman. I wish this summit a great success.


Here, I would like to mention that the Indian Government has launched various schemes for supporting the existing SMEs and encouraging the creation of new ones. These Schemes are aimed at providing adequate flow of credit from financial institutions/banks; technology upgradation and modernization; integrated infrastructural facilities, modern testing facilities and quality certification, access to modern management practices; entrepreneurship development and skill up gradation through appropriate training facilities; support for product development, design intervention and packaging; assistance for better access to domestic and export markets; and cluster-wise measures to promote capacity- building.


The experience of India in development of its MSME sector can be very relevant for Oman and we stand ready to share our experience. I am glad to mention that Riyada has shown interest in visiting India to learn from India's experience and the Embassy has extended its support to the proposed visit.


Development of SMEs in Oman will need skilled entrepreneurs and trained workers. The Government of India has accorded a high priority to development and upgradation of skills of Indian youth. There is now a separate Ministry to implement the Government's key Skill India project. Here again, I feel India's experience in skill development will be useful for development of skills of Omani youth and we are ready to share it with the concerned agencies of the Government of Oman.


I conclude by underlining that India and Oman, maritime neighbours across the Indian Ocean, share historic and strategic ties. India is ready to share its experience with Oman in development of SMEs, including development of appropriate skills, which will further expand our bilateral cooperation, strengthen trade and investment relations between the two countries and contribute to enhancing business-to-business relations between the two countries.


I thank once again the organisers for giving me this opportunity to speak before you and thank you for your kind attention and patience.

The Chairman and Executive Members of the Indian Social Club, Leaders and Members of various linguistic wings of the Indian Social Club, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Evening.


On the auspicious occasion of the 68th anniversary of our Independence Day, I extend my greetings to all fellow Indians living in Oman. I wish you all a very Happy Independence Day. I also wish you success in your endeavors and a prosperous and peaceful life. I am delighted to join you to celebrate the 69th Independence Day of India and want to thank the Indian Social Club for organizing this event and inviting me.


The Independence Day is a day of celebration for all of us. It is a day to feel proud of our achievements as a nation. As Honourable President of India said in his address to the nation, we are the largest democracy of the world and our economy is again growing at a fast pace. Our achievements in the field of science and technology - in harnessing nuclear energy, space applications, information technology, bio-technology, pharmaceuticals, defence technology etc. are recognized throughout the world. India is seen today as an emerging global power. Our civilizational heritage like Yoga has been internationally accepted as part of the universal heritage. Our message of unity in diversity and peaceful co-existence as well as universal brotherhood, as embodied in Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam, inspires people everywhere.


It is also a day to remember the sacrifices made by our freedom fighters during the freedom struggle led by father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi, and pay our homage to them. It is also a day to recall the sacrifices made by our soldiers and our security-men in safeguarding our borders and in providing day to day security to us. We must also remember the contributions made by our leaders, scientists, farmers, workers and businessmen in our progress towards building a modern, progressive and developed India.


As we enter the 69th year of our Independence, we must re-dedicate ourselves to the progress and prosperity of our nation, to the welfare of our people and to the unity and integrity of our country. It is also an occasion to renew our resolve to live by the ideals and values that our freedom fighters and great leaders espoused and practiced.


Addressing the Nation today from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Honourable Prime Minister expressed the resolve of 1.25 billion Indians, as "Team India", to make India a developed nation by 2022 - the 75th anniversary of independence. The Indians living abroad, like you, are valuable members of the "Team India". You must have already heard or read the PM's speech. I would, therefore, like to highlight only the PM's announcement of the "Start-Up India, Stand-Up India" initiative, which would encourage entrepreneurship among the youth of India.


We continue to face huge developmental challenges. As you are aware, the Government has taken a number of initiatives to achieve the aspirations of the people for a better life. I would like to mention here only a few like Make in India, Clean India, Skill India and Digital India. As valuable members of the team India you are invited to contribute through your investments and other contributions in achieving the goal of making India a developed nation.


On this happy occasion, I would like to convey our gratitude and thanks to His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the visionary and benevolent Leader of the Sultanate of Oman. On behalf of all of us, I want to convey our best wishes to His Majesty for his long, prosperous and healthy life. I also want to convey our deep appreciation to the Government of His Majesty and the friendly people of Oman for their continuous support to friendly ties and strategic partnership between the two countries. The Government of India continues to attach a high importance to expanding and deepening the strategic partnership with Oman and I am looking forward to working with His Majesty's Government to strengthen it further.


I take this opportunity to reiterate that the Government of India is fully dedicated to promoting the welfare of Indian citizens living abroad as well as the people of Indian origin. The Indian community in Oman, the largest expatriate community in Oman, has continued to enjoy the benign care of His Majesty and his Government. The contribution made by the community in unprecedented development and progress of Oman under the leadership of His Majesty is well recognized and appreciated. The Government and people of India also appreciate your contribution to the progress and development of India.


I would like to place on record our appreciation for the valuable support provided by the community organizations like the Indian Social Club and its various wings to the welfare of the community as well as the initiatives taken by the Embassy. Without your support it may not be possible for us to reach out to all the segments of the Indian community in Oman. I hope you will continue to extend your full cooperation to the Embassy, as before, in spite of our shortcomings and failings.


The Embassy remains committed to working together with His Majesty's Government to promote the welfare of the Indian community in Oman. I will use every opportunity available to me to reach out to you, to interact with you and to improve delivery of various services rendered by us. Let us know your suggestions for improving our services. I would like to conclude by thanking the Indian Social Club again for inviting me to join you in celebrating India's Independence Day. I wish you all a long happy healthy and successful life. Thank you for your kind attention.

Ambassador’s Statement at Indian Medical Tourism Destination (IMTD) Inaugural Event on April 12, 2015 at Muscat

At the outset, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to H.M. Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said for his vision and wisdom in taking the India-Oman bilateral relations to a strategic partnership. We fully share in the joy and celebrations at H.M’s return to Oman and wish him good health and long life.


We would like to extend a very warm welcome to H.E. Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Obaid Al Saeedi, the Minister of Health for accepting our invitation to be the Chief Guest this morning. We could not have asked for a more appropriate or better person as Chief Guest for this IMTD event. We are indeed grateful to the Minister for accepting our invitation. Thank you very much, Sir, for being here.


We would also like to thank our guests of Honour – the Chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), the Vice Chairman of OCCI, the President of Oman Medical Association and all our distinguished invitees and esteemed guests. A cordial welcome to one and all of you.


I would also like to welcome the Indian Medical Tourism Destination (IMTD) delegation to Muscat and thank our apex Chamber, FICCI for putting together this delegation and anchoring this event.


Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,

The IMTD delegation’s visit is a matter of great satisfaction on many counts:

(i) It aims to further strengthen/deepen and diversify our strategic partnerships in the health/medical fields.

(ii) It marks the fulfillment of a decision at the Joint Commission meeting (October 2014) at the level of the Ministers of Commerce and Industry – viz India will mount a major health/medical delegation to the Sultanate.

(iii) The delegation – the strongest ever from India to Oman focused on the health/medical sector – coincides with the Diamond Jubilee or 60th Anniversary of the establishment of India-Oman diplomatic relations in 1955.

(iv) And it is very heartening that apart from modern medicine, the delegation incorporates our traditional system of medicine and wellness. As you are aware, India has established a separate Ministry of AYUSH – which stands for Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha & Homeopathy (AYUSH) and we will have a short yoga-demonstration shortly.

Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,

We are extremely pleased at the visit of this strong IMTD delegation. It comprises 25 leading hospitals-medical institutions in India under the auspices of FICCI.

This mega event has different components:

(a) There is, of course, the Exhibition which was inaugurated by H.E. the Minister of Health a short-while ago. It aims to show-case the capabilities of the participating Indian hospitals.

(b) There is the Continuing Medical Education (CME) component which will be running for 2 days – today and tomorrow – in this very hall focusing on presentations and discussions on various specialities, including super-speciality areas. We believe that the CME component will benefit both sides – the visiting doctors and their interlocutors in Oman with regard to academic and clinical issues to be discussed.

(c) Finally, the visiting delegation seeks B-2-B interactions and tie-ups with all stake-holders for

(i) Treatment abroad in India: I may mention that India is already a very popular medical tourism destination for people from Oman. For example, while tourism from Oman to India grew at 38.6% overall last year (2014) to reach 81,000 plus; the medical tourism component grew at 57.6% to 5,750. India has become a popular destination for its modern– state-of-the art medical treatment at a fraction of the cost when compared to other countries, as a ‘value-for-money’ proposition. And India is also a major destination for wellness & AYUSH- related therapies.

(ii) The delegation seeks tie-ups for providing training in India which has emerged as a major centre for training including for nursing, etc. from Oman.

(iii) An important objective is the joint ventures in Oman – in private and government sector – including the ambitious projects planned, like the medi-city near Muscat. The delegation seeks to benefit from their interactions at the Ministry of Health and with professionals in the government and private sectors.

In conclusion, I would like to wish the IMTD delegation all success in their endeavours – Exhibition, CEM, B2B meetings/tie-ups. And to my friends in Oman, I would request that you seize the opportunity to engage and interact with the visiting delegation as a win-win for both sides.

Thank you,

Ambassador’s Address at Annual ITEC-Day on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 1930 hrs.

H.E. Sheikh Khalid bin Omar bin Said al Marhoon, the Minister of Civil Service (Chief Guest)

H.H Sayyid Mohammed Salim Ali Al Said, Chief of Protocol Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

H.E. Said bin Saleh Al Kiyoumi, Chairman – Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry

H.E Salim Musallam Ali Al Busiadi, Under secretary, Ministry of Civil Services

H.E. Sheikh Rashad Al Hinai, Under-secretary at the Ministry of Sports Affairs

H.E. Mohammed bin Ghalib bin Ali Al Hinai, H. R. Planning Advisor to H.E. The Minister, The Minister Office,Ministry of Manpower

Shura Members

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,

My colleagues from the Embassy,

Dear ITEC Alumni,

It gives me immense pleasure to welcome you all to the Embassy this evening to celebrate the Annual Day of Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme or simply ITEC. Last year 2014, the celebrations were special, as we marked the Golden Jubilee of ITEC; this year 2015 is even more special as we commemorate the 60th Anniversary or the Diamond Jubilee of the establishment of India-Oman diplomatic relations, when the Consulate of India was first established in Muscat in 1955. The ITEC Day provides us with an opportunity to interact with the ITEC alumni from Oman and to share their experiences of participating in the ITEC programme in India.


  1. At the outset, let me express our gratitude to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said for all his benevolence, wisdom and vision. We pray for His Majesty’s good health and long life. We would like to thank the Omani authorities for their whole-hearted cooperation, including with regard to the ITEC programme.
  2. We would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to His Excellency Khalid bin Omar Al Marhoon, the Minister of Civil Service in the Sultanate of Oman for taking time off his busy schedule and being present here as the Chief Guest at this Embassy function today. We extend a very warm welcome to you Sir and convey our profound gratitude for your participation in the annual ITEC Day celebrations. We would also like to thank all our Guests of Honour for being here this evening.
  3. Sharing people-to-people contacts since the period of the Indus Valley Civilization in the third millennium B.C., the India-Oman relationship, today, is multi-faceted and in the nature of a strategic partnership. As part of the continuing high-level exchanges between the two countries, the Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs had visited India twice last year. The External Affairs Minister of India was on an official visit to Oman earlier this month. This comprehensive relationship covers numerous fields of cooperation, including education and training. In fact, India and Oman are exploring ways to enhance, augment and intensify cooperation in the fields of higher education and training. We are seeing results already, but these need to be further deepened and diversified through more collaborations, tie-ups, etc. The time appears opportune for an increase in India-Oman cooperation in higher education and training.

  4. Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,

  5. Since India’s Independence in 1947, South-South Cooperation has been a fundamental pillar of India’s foreign policy and diplomacy. During the 1950s and 60s, newly independent countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America required skilled manpower and expertise, financial resources and transfer of technology. To meet the challenges of socio-economic development, cooperative efforts among developing countries or South-South Cooperation proved to be an important modality. This South-South Cooperation framework rests on partnership based on solidarity and mutual respect, voluntary cooperation free from any conditionalities, national ownership aligned with priorities of partner countries, demand-driven and response-oriented nature of cooperation. It is in this context that India has been sharing its knowledge, expertise and experience gained over the years with our developing-country partners like Oman.
  6. Traditionally known as the knowledge centre, India is today emerging as the IT and cutting-edge technology hub. Currently, with over 380 Universities, over 11,000 colleges and 1,500 research institutions, India has the second largest pool of scientists and engineers in the world. In India, over 2.5 million graduates are added to the workforce every year, including 300,000 engineers and 150,000 IT professionals. The country's achievements in areas such as space-technology, computers, nuclear science, automobiles, pharmacy, manufacturing, biotechnology, energy, nanotechnology, aviation, theoretical physics and statistics, among others, shows that invention and innovation in India are now an important part of the economic activity. Briefly, India has one of the largest technical education systems in the world with a total of 14,123 degree-granting institutions and over 3 million seats in technical and professional education. This provides the back-stopping and resource base to be leveraged by ITEC.
  7. The ITEC programme was the result of the vision of our founding fathers of our country. The ITEC Programme was instituted by a decision of the Indian Cabinet on 15 September 1964 as a bilateral programme of assistance of India. While deciding on the ITEC programme, the Cabinet had noted that “a programme of technical and economic cooperation is essential for the development of our relations with the other developing countries on the basis of partnership and cooperation for mutual benefit. It would also be a concrete manifestation of our resolve to contribute to the evolution of world community based on the interdependence of all its members in the attainment of their common goal for promoting the social and economic well being of their people” At that time, a question was asked as to what could a newly independent, poor, poverty-ridden, developing country like India provide to the others? But it was the conviction of the founding fathers that India would share its unique socio-economic experience and technological achievements with other developing countries. Thus, ITEC programme represents the Government of India’s earnest attempt to share the fruits of its economic and technical progress with other countries. The ITEC programme has the objective of realizing that noble and far-sighted vision.
  8. Since then the ITEC Programme, fully-funded by the Government of India, has evolved and expanded over the years. Under ITEC, 161 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America & the Caribbean, East Europe, as well as Pacific and Small Island countries are invited to share in the Indian developmental experience in various fields. Every year India provides over 10,000 scholarships through over 280 short, medium and long-term courses in 47 institutions which are state-of-the-art centers of learning & excellence. The ITEC programme covers a very diverse range of subjects from traditional areas like agriculture, SMEs, management, English language to leading-edge technologies covering IT, Science & Technology, biotechnology, etc. Over the years, the ITEC programme has generated immense goodwill and substantive cooperation among the developing countries.
  9. At the same time, the Sultanate of Oman is keen to develop its human resources or capacity building through education, training and vocational courses. The added skills which are being provided by ITEC facilitate human resource development, capacity building, skills upgradation and empowerment for increased jobs. Oman’s priority for increased jobs and diversification of its economy through small & medium enterprises (SMEs) dovetails fully with the ITEC programme. In this context, we have noted the laudable efforts for job creation, in-country value addition and focus on SMEs by various Ministries in the Sultanate as well as the Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

  10. Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,

  11. Under the ITEC programme, India had been extending 50 fully-funded training scholarships to Oman annually upto FY 2011-12 covering technical and vocational training courses from traditional areas to cutting-edge technologies. Given the popularity in Oman of the ITEC programme, which has globally acquired a brand name or brand image of its own, the ITEC scholarships had been increased for Oman to 85 in 2012-13, 125 during 2013-14 and finally to 150 in the current financial year 2014-15. Keeping in mind our exceptionally close bilateral relations and Oman’s interest and optimal utilization, we are pleased to announce that the ITEC scholarships for Oman will remain at the enhanced number of 150 for the next financial year 2015-16 starting from April 1, 2015 and marking an increase of 200% i.e. from 50 to 150 during the last three years. Based on the experience of the past years, I would urge the Omani authorities to send their nominations early to avail of the ‘first-come, first-served’ criterion. I would also recommend nominations across as many disciplines, institutes and courses as possible for optimal utilization of the ITEC scholarships available to Oman.
  12. In addition to the civilian ITEC slots, India also increasingly provides military training to the Royal Navy, Airforce and Army of Oman. We are extremely pleased that training for Omani military personnel in India is also increasing steadily.
  13. I request the training departments and officials in various Ministries and establishments of Omani Government to take maximum advantage of India’s progress and innovation in various fields. Our ITEC programme is also open to the private sector in Oman, which is in conformity with the Sultanate’s policy of jobs creation through the private sector. In the last few decades, India has become a center for global research and development (R&D). India is emerging as a prominent hub for innovation and is expanding its investment in this field. We remain ready to share our experience with all friendly countries, including of course Oman.
  14. Finally, all ITEC alumni are welcome to keep in touch with their peers, teachers and institutes even after their Courses through the Institute’s alumni networks or through social media like our Ministry’s facebook page exclusively created for ITEC alumni. ITEC has created a large network of alumni across the continents who have become ITEC torch-bearers in their respective countries and in the process developed a powerful cultural bridge between India and Oman. You are most welcome to join the alumni network, if not already on it.
  15. In conclusion, I am very thankful to the Omani authorities for their friendly cooperation in the success of this ITEC programme by nominating their personnel for training in India. I thank you all for coming today and participating in this ITEC-Day event during the Diamond Jubilee year of India-Oman diplomatic relations.

Thank you.


Your Excellency, Abdulsalam Al-Murshid, CEO, State General Reserve Fund,
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
Business Leaders from Oman,
Visiting Experts from India,
Members of the Press,
Ladies & Gentlemen,

We are delighted and honoured to have H. E. Abdulsalam Al-Murshidi, Chief Executive Officer of State General Reserve Fund, Sultanate of Oman as our Chief Guest today. With the crucial contribution that H. E. Al-Murshidi is making to the economic success of the Sultanate through his expertise in general and India-Oman investments in particular, we could not have asked for a more appropriate dignitary as Chief Guest of today’s ‘India Business Seminar’.


  1. I need hardly recall to this audience that India and Oman have longstanding and traditional trading & maritime links which have reached the level of a strategic partnership. Economic-commercial ties are an essential plank or pillar of this exceptionally close and special relationship. Today’s event seeks to join hands in strengthening our trade and investment partnership with the Sultanate by providing an update on the fast evolving Indian economic policies and exchanging notes on the modalities or nitty-gritty of business details.
  2. Bilateral trade is buoyant and flourishing and remains broadly balanced. We are glad that the trade relations between India and Oman are scaling new heights. Bilateral trade has doubled during the five years to 2012-13. Latest data shows that in 2013-14, bilateral trade increased to US$ 5.77 billion registering an impressive growth of 25% over the previous year.
  3. Similarly, investments are robust. At last count, there were over 1500 Indo-Omani joint ventures in the Sultanate valued at US$ 7.5 billion of which the Indian investment was US$ 4.5 billion. This includes some mega projects like Oman-India Fertilizers Company or OMIFCO, the flag-bearer of Indian investment and largest Indian joint venture abroad, Jindal-Shadeed Iron & Steel plant, L&T’s four (4) joint ventures with the Zubair Group. A couple of ferro-chrome joint ventures in Sohar and other projects in Salalah are in the pipeline. In turn, Oman has invested in Bharat-Oman Refinery Ltd. and other ventures, including through the Oman-India Joint Investment Fund (OIJIF), a special purpose vehicle. In fact, the recently held ministerial India-Oman Joint Commission meeting on October 29 in New Delhi had expressed happiness that the OIJIF was progressing well with the first tranche of US$ 100 million. The JCM had accorded a political go-ahead for a second tranche with an enhanced corpus of US$ 250 million with modalities to be worked out by SBI and SGRF for its launch at the earliest.
  4. Tourism is booming. When I came to Oman, we were issuing around 39,000 visas per year in 2011. In the next couple of years, these increased by 50% to around 59,000 visas in 2013. During the first 10 months of 2014, we have issued 69,000 visas marking a 41% increase in Omani visitors to India for tourism, business or medical treatment over the corresponding period of last year. On their part, Indians are also increasingly looking at Oman for business and leisure.
  5. Therefore, the momentum favours India-Oman trade, investment and tourism flows. But still, business relations in all verticals remain far below potential.

  6. Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,

  7. India, with its strong macroeconomic fundamentals, having successfully withstood the global economic and financial crisis or meltdown of the last decade, is now poised to grow in the range of 6% and more per annum. Further, India intends to do more in future, within the framework of an open economy, to restore the robust growth rate to a higher level. The optimism is based on several factors such as improvement in fiscal and current account deficit, output of the services sector, reforms on manufacturing, recovery in exports and the actual growth picking up. Clearly, the downturn in the Indian economy appears to have bottomed out and the ‘green shoots of recovery’ for a higher growth trajectory are visible. The growth rate has moved up to 5.7% in second quarter of 2014. Key strengths of the Indian economy such as stable growth prospects supported by impressive savings and investment ratios, high degree of political stability and sound institutions, deep capital markets, strong and competitive private sector, significant foreign capital inflows, large foreign exchange reserves, demographic dividend and so on, make India an attractive destination for foreign investments. Despite some short–term hiccups of the past, the Indian growth story for the medium to long term remains intact.
  8. I believe that this India Business Seminar is most timely and opportune. A new Government has assumed office in India, the largest democracy in the world, with a mandate for development and good governance. During its five-odd months in office, we have seen economic growth picking up. The business sentiment is upbeat. A can-do spirit permeates the economy. There is a buzz about India among the investors. The ‘Make in India’ campaign launched by the Prime Minister of India in September 2014 (at which some of you were present at our Embassy) aims to make India a manufacturing hub. New avenues have been opened up for private, including foreign investments, for example, defence and infrastructure including railways. Subsidy on diesel has been abolished. Economic reforms are underway and more are on the anvil. By way of example, just yesterday we learnt that the Government of India had relaxed norms for allowing FDI in the construction development sector, whereby the minimum built up area required to attract FDI has been scaled own from 50,000 sq. mtrs. to 20,000 sq. mtrs. and the capital requirement brought down from US$ 10 million to US$ 5 million. Such liberalized foreign investment guidelines can be expected to attract foreign participation in the real estate sector. As the Finance Minister of India stated at the India Economic Summit last week some big ticket reforms relating to labour, land acquisition, insurance and taxation like a national goods & services tax (GST) are being pursued. But as the Finance Minister also said reform was not “really about one or two big-bang ideas”, but to “consistently pursue the reform agenda and doggedly move in one direction”.
  9. On the bilateral side, a fortnight ago, H. E. the Minister of Commerce & Industry of Oman had led a very strong business delegation to India for the Joint Business Council and ‘B2B Oman-India Roadshows’ in Delhi and Mumbai. Some of you present here today may have been a part of it. The Omani business delegation had a very full programme of business interactions with their counterparts in Delhi & Mumbai, coordinated by our apex Chambers FICCI & CII. We are following up on proposals made and remain confident that this will lead to concrete results.
  10. In this context, I would like to mention some specific business events which may be of interest to this gathering:
    (i) Our apex Chambers, FICCI in India and the General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture in the Arab Countries (GUCCIAAC) is organizing the India-Arab League Partnership Conference on November 26-27, 2014 in New Delhi under the theme ‘New Horizons in Investment, Trade & Services’. I would strongly recommend this forum for those who could not join the Omani Minister’s delegation last month, as it provides a powerful platform for interacting and exploring new opportunities for investment and business.
    (ii) A major Indian health & medical delegation is visiting Muscat in mid-December, and
    (iii) For Indians, i.e. NRIs, PIOs, etc. businesspeople, the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD-2015) from January 7-9, 2015 in Gandhinagar (Gujarat), being celebrated to mark the 100th anniversary of Gandhiji’s return to India, provides an excellent business platform for networking with Indian counterparts.
    So please note these important events/dates in your calendar.
  11. In conclusion, let me say that today’s event- ‘India Business Seminar’, an initiative of the Embassy of India, which has come to acquire considerable popularity & salience among the business & investor communities in Muscat, , seeks to provide a platform for promotion of economic discussion, understanding and clarity on opportunities and identifying the way forward in the dynamic Indian economy for partnership towards mutual gains or win-win situation for both sides.

  12. Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,

  13. We are extremely pleased to have a panel of expert speakers from premier institutions in India such as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and State Bank of India (SBI) who will be making presentations on the Indian economy and its business potential. Among them are:
    (i) Ms. Vasudha Sundararaman, Managing Director & CEO of SBI-SG Global Securities Services Pvt. Ltd. who will be speaking about the macro-economic outlook of the Indian economy.
    (ii) Mr. Jignesh Ruparel from TATA Consulting Engineers Ltd. under the auspices of CII to provide an overview of the Indian economy.
    (iii) This will be followed by a presentation by Mr. Navneet Munot, Chief Investment Officer, SB Funds Management Pvt. Ltd.
    (iv) And last but not the least, we have Mr. Avinash Kulkarni, Executive Vice President & Group Head, Capital Market Groups from SBICAP.
  14. We heartily welcome our distinguished speakers and thank them all for sparing their time and resources to fly to Oman to share with us their knowledge and views which will help us and our esteemed guests to know more about the latest business investment opportunities available in India and the way forward.
  15. It also gives me great pleasure to welcome each one of you to this Seminar for having taken time off your busy schedules and for being present here this morning. Thank you very much indeed. I am sure the event will focus on many areas of interest and the Question-Answer session that is to follow the presentations, will help you clarify any doubts that you may have. Kindly make sure that you join us for lunch which will be served immediately after the Q&A session.

    Thank you.

H.E. Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Sultanate of Oman
H.H. Sayyid Mohammed Salem Ali Al Said, Chief of Protocol, MoFA
H.E. Sheikh Ahmed bin Nasir bin Humaid Al Naimi, Member of the State Council (Majlis Al-Dawla)
H.E. Amur bin Hamoud Al Hajiri, Member of the State Council (Majlis Al-Dawla)
H.E. Abdullah bin Salem bin Nasir Al Mukhaini, Member of Shura Council
H.E. Murad Ali Yousuf Al Houti, Member of Shura Council
H.E. Dr. Ibrahim bin Ahmed bin Said Al Kindi, Executive Director, Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising
H.E. Amb. Salem bin Mohammed bin Masoud Al Riyami, Chief of South America Department, MoFA
Minister Khamis bin Thani bin Theni Al Mandhri, Acting Chief of West Asia Department, MoFA
Minister Riyadh bin Mohammed bin Abdul Nabi Macki, Deputy Chief of East Asia Department, MoFA
Brigadier Salem bin Khamis bin Khalfan Al Abri, HQ of Sultan’s Armed Forces
Commodore Haider bin Ahamed Rahim Al Zadjali, HQ of Sultan’s Armed Forces
Excellency Ambassadors,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my proud privilege to welcome you all on the happy occasion of the 66th Republic Day of India. I extend my greetings and felicitations to one and all on this occasion.

Independent India adopted its Constitution on 26 January, 1950 and became a sovereign democratic republic. The Republic Day is a celebration of our Constitution and the values of justice, liberty, equality, pluralism and secularism enshrined in it. Guided by the principles and objectives of the Constitution, we are proud that India is progressing as a modern, democratic country and an emerging free-market economy. Crossing milestones, including the general elections last year, India is on the move, especially towards a high growth trajectory. As science tells us that when an elephant begins to gather pace, it has momentum. However, as we overcome deficiencies, revive growth, optimize opportunities and leverage our strengths, we are indeed mindful of the numerous challenges that lie ahead of us.

At the bilateral level, the traditional civilizational relations between India and Oman have gone from strength to strength and are today in the nature of a strategic partnership. This year 2015 marks the 60th Anniversary or Diamond Jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1955 between our two neighbouring countries joined by the waters of the Arabian Sea. High level exchanges are a regular and continuing feature of this exceptionally close relationship. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said had paid a landmark visit to India in 1997. Our President, Vice-President and four Prime Ministers have visited the Sultanate. Last year, Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs visited India twice and had the distinction of becoming the first foreign dignitary to greet the new Government of India after its inauguration.

Defence cooperation is progressing satisfactorily with joint exercises, military exchanges, ships visits, training courses and cooperation in operational turnaround in anti-piracy operations. For example, just yesterday, the two sides have successfully completed the very first joint India-Oman army exercise ‘Al-Najah-I’ or ‘Success-I’ in Jebel Akhdar. This constitutes a major milestone in our multifaceted partnership coinciding with the Diamond Jubilee of our diplomatic relations.

India accords high priority to deepening and diversifying our flourishing bilateral economic-commercial ties with Oman. Bilateral trade is vibrant and balanced having crossed US$ 5.7 billion in 2013-14 marking an increase of 25% Oman’s exports to India have grown by an impressive 47% Investment flows remain buoyant. The India-Oman Joint Investment Fund, after deployment of its initial corpus of US$ 100 million, is finalizing the next tranche with increased corpus of around US$ 300 million. Besides, on the investment front, over 1500 joint ventures, including mega projects like the Oman-India Fertilizer Company (OMIFCO) in Sur, the Jindal-Shadeed steel plant with its expansion in Sohar, L&T’s four joint ventures in Oman, numerous Indian projects in the pipeline in Salalah, Sohar and Duqm, as well as the Bharat-Oman Refinery Limited (BORL) in India are examples of major investments having a long-term strategic dimension. Indian companies continue to excel in the construction sector winning several project contracts against stiff competition. The India-Oman ministerial Joint Commission and the Joint Business Council meetings last October in India can be expected to provide a renewed impetus to bilateral trade and investment.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In our bilateral relations, one has been very touched by the graciousness and cooperation of the Omani authorities. During my three years plus stay in Oman, I have been particularly struck by the friendliness and affection that Omanis have for India. To a very significant extent, this is because of the contributions made by the Indian community for the overall growth and development of this country. All Omanis, from high dignitaries to the common people, have unreservedly recognized the positive and constructive contribution of the Indian community. It is a matter of great satisfaction that the presence of a large, diverse, accomplished and highly regarded Indian community in Oman has ensured excellent people-to-people contacts and fostered interaction in the cultural field. Artistes from Bollywood and elsewhere have been performing here regularly; movies and TV serials are now being filmed on Omani locales. Oman is also emerging as a destination for Indian weddings. In the framework of the Diamond Jubilee of our diplomatic relations, groups of Indian folk dancers and mastercraftsmen or artisans are performing at the on-going Muscat Festival. I would encourage all of you to visit the India Pavilion and performances at Muscat Festival in Amerat. The ICCR-sponsored Garba troupe from Gujarat will be showcasing glimpses of their folk dances right here later this evening.

During 2014, the Embassy issued a record over 82,000 visas signifying robust tourism flows. Medical tourism remains an attraction as India offers state-of-the-art medical facilities and excellent health-care, at a fraction of the cost elsewhere, making it a value-for-money destination. Recently, India has rolled-out the Tourist Visa on Arrival through Electronic Travel Authorisation (TVoA-ETA) for 43 counries including Oman, one of the only two countries in the GCC to be accorded this facility. At the same time, air connectivity between India and Oman continues to boast of around 400 direct flights per week, with Goa expected to become the 13th Indian city to be directly connected to the Sultanate shortly.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

All in all, going forward we remain confident that in the months and years to come the India-Oman special relationship will attain qualitatively new heights in diverse fields flowering into an even more comprehensive partnership.

In conclusion, if I may be permitted on a personal note, my wife Mita and I consider ourselves extremely fortunate to be hosting our fourth Republic Day celebrations in Muscat and we would like to sincerely thank you all for your continuing friendship and excellent cooperation and for being here today to celebrate the 66th Republic Day of India and a year full of activities and events to mark the Diamond Jubilee of India-Oman diplomatic relations.

Thank you.
(May I now invite our Chief Guest and the esteemed dignitaries on the stage for the customary cake cutting).

It is my great pleasure and privilege today on the 66th Republic Day of India to extend my heartiest congratulations and felicitations to all my compatriots and persons of Indian origin living in the Sultanate of Oman, and in sharing the pride that we all cherish being part of our great motherland - India. This joy and pride is nurtured by the friendship, love and affection that the Indians get from their Omani brothers and sisters in the Sultanate and engaging themselves in various professions contributing to the development and progress of both India and Oman. I wish to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said and his Government for their benevolence, which sustains this large, diverse, accomplished and highly regarded Indian community living in the Sultanate of Oman.

India and Oman have strengthened their centuries old civilizational links and the historical socio-economic relations which have since evolved into a strategic partnership. Excellent political relations are nurtured through regular exchange of high-level visits which have seen our President, Vice-President and four Prime Ministers of India visiting Oman in the past. From Oman, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, His Highness Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said have visited India. Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah was in India during February 2014. He again visited India on June 3, 2014 for extending greetings to the new Indian leadership after the general elections, thereby earning for Oman the distinction of being the first nation in the world to have sent a high-level dignitary after assumption of the new Government in India. Apart from discussions with his counterpart, the Omani Minister called on the Prime Minister. From the Indian side, the Minister of State for External Affairs visited Oman in May 2014 for bilateral engagement.

The India-Oman bilateral institutional mechanisms were active during 2014. The 7th ministerial India-Oman Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) along with the 8th Joint Business Council (JBC) meeting was held in October 2014 in New Delhi. H.E. Ali bin Masoud Al-Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce & Industry led the official delegation to the JCM alongwith a strong 50-member business delegation to the JBC as well as for the Oman-India B2B Roadshows in New Delhi and Mumbai. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty on Criminal Matters as well as the Memorandum of Understanding on Standards and Measures were signed during the JCM. The Secretary General of the National Security Council of Oman visited India in November 2014 for discussion with the Deputy National Security Advisor in the framework of institutional mechanism for security consultations. The 10th India-Oman Strategic Consultative Group (IOSCG) meeting was convened at Secretary-level for Foreign Office consultations in December 2014 in New Delhi. Joint Working Group on Higher Education (March 2014) met in New Delhi and the Joint Working Group on Manpower (September 2014) convened in Muscat. Bilateral cooperation in defence, economic-commercial, training, education, health, S&T, culture, agriculture, civil aviation, tourism etc. progressed well during 2014.

There were several significant developments during 2014 in the field of defence and military cooperation with Oman.

India-Oman economic-commercial cooperation continued to be robust. Bilateral trade was buoyant and balanced having reached US$ 5.8 billion in 2013-14. Investment flows remained strong. The Oman-India Joint Investment Fund completed deployment of its initial corpus of US$ 100 million and agreed to an enhanced second tranche of around US$ 300 million. The Indian Embassy supported business delegations from apex organizations/Chambers like Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) and Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC) during 2014 for business interactions and participation in trade fairs in Oman. The Embassy anchored a live presentation of Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ launch in September 2014 and hosted the Indian Business Seminar in November 2014 with speakers from Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and State Bank of India (SBI). These well-attended investment-focused events have become valued forum for Omani and Indian investors alike.

A number of Indian companies operating in the construction sector in Oman continued to win mega projects during 2014 against stiff international competition. South Asia Gas Enterprise Pvt. Ltd. (SAGE), promoters of the natural gas Middle East-to-India deep-sea pipeline (MEIDP) project, continued to explore options for the project in consultation with the Omani authorities.

As part of its development cooperation effort, India has been imparting vocational training to 150 Omani nationals per annum under the fully-funded Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme which marked its Golden Jubilee in 2014. The high rate of utilization coupled with the strong participation in the Embassy’s annual ITEC Day celebrations remained a testimony to the popularity of the programme in Oman.

Increasing number of Omanis visited India for leisure tourism, medical treatment, education, business and other purposes. During the year 2014, the Indian Embassy issued over 80,000 visas. Medical tourism in India has been gaining popularity with state-of-the-art medical facilities at reasonable costs making India a value-for-money destination. The Embassy’s ‘Know India Seminar’ (Oct 2014) and familiarization seminar on Tourist Visa on Arrival through Electronic Travel Authorization (TVoA-ETA) for Omanis (Dec. 2014) will help augment tourist flows.

The time-tested people-to-people contacts and intense cultural cooperation are sustained and nurtured by the vibrant Indian expatriate community in Oman with its rich and diverse cultural heritage, traditions, language, dance, music, costume, cuisine, etc. Bollywood films, celebrity artistes, cultural troupes, myriad performers and singers continue to enthrall Indian and Omani audiences alike. Moreover, the beautiful Omani landscapes provide shooting locales for Indian producers and Omani hospitality makes it a destination for Indian weddings. These new and emerging areas of cooperation make for enhanced people-to-people interaction between our two countries.

It is a matter of pride that the Indian expatriate community comprising of professionals and workers has been contributing the best of their knowledge and skills, sweat and toil in support of development in Oman. An impressive Indian schools system in Oman is catering to the educational needs of 42,000 children, many of whom are winning laurels for academic and extra-curricular excellence. For the welfare of the Indian community, the Government of India has introduced various schemes and measures like the Indian Community Welfare Fund. In order to review consular and community welfare issues, the Indian Embassy holds ‘Open House’ on all working days as well as on third Friday of the month for providing an additional platform to address any problems and welfare needs of the Community, apart from a 24x7 helpline and toll-free service for emergencies.

The year 2015 marks the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of India-Oman diplomatic relations as the Consulate of India was first opened in 1955 in Muscat. A number of events are planned to commemorate the ‘Diamond Jubilee’ in a befitting manner throughout 2015.

In conclusion, my warmest greetings to my fellow citizens on this day of our national pride and sincere thanks to the Government and people of Oman for their warmth of friendship and continued support for the Indian community in the Sultanate.

  1. As India’s Ambassador in Oman, my task is normally to market India as a tourism destination to Oman & foreign audiences in the Sultanate. However, today is different, as I in addition will also endeavor to say something about Oman as a tourist destination, as per the theme of this Summit & as desired by the organisers.
  2. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) report, Oman is set to lead the Middle East in terms of growth in the travel & tourism sector in 2014. Oman is poised to witness one of the strongest global growth rates in tourism during 2015.
  3. According to the Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2014, assessment was that the travel and tourism industry had directly contributed OMR 982.8 million to Oman’s economy in 2013, or 3% of the GDP. It was forecast to rise by 10.2% to OMR 1,082.7 million in 2014. Further, the increase in travel and tourism activities is expected to grow by 5.4% per annum to reach OMR 1,834 million by 2024 or 3.9% of GDP.
  4. According to the same WTTC report, the total contribution of travel and tourism sector, including investments, supply chain and induced income impacts, the contribution to Oman’s GDP was actually double. The sector’s total contribution to the country’s GDP was OMR 2,078 million, i.e. 6.4% of GDP in 2013. This was estimated to go up by 9.4% to OMR 2,274 million in 2014. By 2024, the total contribution of travel and tourism sector was expected to rise by 5.5% per annum to reach OMR 3,884 million or 8.2% of GDP.
  5. The WTTC report also provides details about the creation of jobs in the sector. In 2013, Oman’s travel and tourism sector supported 37,000 direct jobs (or 3.3% of total employment). This was expected to grow by 11.4% to reach 41,000 jobs in 2014. This marks one of the strongest growths worldwide and fastest in the Middle East. Further, the travel & tourism sector gave employment to 72,000 people in 2013. It was predicted to reach 79,500 in 2014, an increase of 10.6%, while by 2024 it will create 60,000 direct jobs, an increase of 3.9% per annum over the next 10 years.
  6. The Report reflects a very upbeat or booming travel and tourism sector for Oman. The Government of Oman appears to have a well-targeted strategy to attract more foreign tourists. Some visible elements of this strategy include:
    • • Construction of world class hotels and resorts in private & public sectors. For example, Hotel Grand Hormuz. A number of hotels by OMRAN. Sheraton.
    • • Development of infrastructure projects, esp. state-of-the art modern road network.
    • • Development of the aviation sector with expanded modernized and upgraded airports at Muscat and Salalah, as well as new airports at Duqm, Sohar, etc.
    • • Aviation sector also includes a rapidly enlarged fleet of new aircraft with OmanAir.
    • • A railway network, linked to GCC countries, which would on the one hand facilitate intra-GCC tourism and on the other in the context of India-Oman tourism ties help in making Oman the gateway to the GCC for tourists from India.
    • • A maritime tourism centre with the Sultan Qaboos Port in Muscat being earmarked for being exclusively devoted to tourism. Focus on cruise tourism.

  1. Last month saw the visit of a 11-member Omani parliamentary delegation comprising of Shura Council (Consultative Council or Lower House) members for the very first meeting of the India-Oman Parliamentary Friendship Group (PFG) in New Delhi. The visiting delegation held discussions with their Indian counterparts from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha – the two houses of Parliament. The Omani delegation also met the External Affairs Minister of India, the Minister of State for External Affairs, witnessed the proceedings in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, and visited the Parliament library and museum. They also informally interacted with a number of Indian Ministers, Parliamentarians, senior officers, etc. In Mumbai, the delegation had a meeting with the Governor of the State of Maharashtra.
  2. The Omani delegation’s visit constituted an important landmark by way of the first-ever meeting of the India-Oman Parliamentary Friendship Group that operationalised this new bilateral mechanism. The forum was also amongst the very first Parliamentary Friendship Group meetings for Oman following the last Shura Council elections in October 2011.
  3. By way of background, it may be worth recalling that the Chairman of the Majlis Al Dawla (State Council or Upper House of Omani Parliament) had visited India in July 2009. In recognition of the historical and excellent bilateral relations, it was decided to establish friendship groups in both Parliaments. Pursuant to this, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha had in January 2012 constituted a 22-member group from both Houses of Indian Parliament. Similarly, the Omani side had selected its own Parliamentary Friendship Group members from the Shura Council in May 2012.
  4. It is perhaps most befitting that the new Omani Shura Council’s first Parliamentary Friendship Group meeting was with India, the largest democracy in the world. During the preparatory phase of the delegation’s visit and at the time of seeing off the delegation to India, one was struck and impressed by the planning, professionalism, knowledge and enthusiasm of the leader and individual members of the Omani delegation. Feedback from the Omani delegation on return indicated that they found the visit and meetings, both in Delhi and Mumbai, most interesting and useful. It was felt that both sides would benefit from a regular and structured exchange of views including on Parliamentary experiences, practices and procedures.
  5. 5. The visit of the Oman Parliamentary delegation came at an opportune time when Majlis Oman (Omani Parliament) is slated to become the first e-Parliament in the Arab world. The return visit of the Indian Parliamentary delegation at a mutually convenient date would help showcase the newly constructed, state-of-the-art, beautiful Parliament building in Muscat. The Parliamentary Friendship Group thus marked the latest and yet another historic linkage in the evolving India-Oman strategic partnership underpinned by high level visits. In sum, the visit signalled the beginning of a bilateral process to further strengthen the exceptionally close relations between the two neighbouring countries joined by the waters of the Arabian Sea.

  1. India-Oman traditional and historical links are underpinned by trading and people-to-people contacts. These strong bilateral relations are today in the nature of a strategic partnership. Business tie-ups are an integral part of this partnership. The Indian expatriate community in the Sultanate is an enduring bridge of friendship and economic-commercial exchanges between the two countries. Bilateral trade is vibrant amounting to around US$ 5 billion per annum. For example, the latest Omani trade data for 10 months of 2012 shows that India was the top destination of Oman’s non-oil exports. Investment flows both ways are robust. Numerous joint ventures including mega projects have been established in both countries. Others are in the pipeline. But considerable potential exists for further intensifying bilateral economic-commercial-business relations.
  2. The recent ‘India Business Seminar’– an Indian Embassy initiative - provided an opportunity to explore the immense possibilities of business between India and Oman. The objective was to engage more through trade and investment. Presentations at the Seminar made by three young Indian professionals from CII and ICICI-Securities were very well received.
  3. The Seminar brought out that the macroeconomic fundamentals of the Indian economy are sound, resilient and less vulnerable to external shocks. Despite a continuing adverse international economic environment, the Indian economy had bottomed out and a gradual upswing was imminent. It was expected to grow by about 5% in 2012-13 and 6.1-6.7% in the next fiscal which would still be amongst the highest in the world.
  4. A number of initiatives had been taken in India to make the investment climate conducive for investors:

    • Indian Capital Markets had undergone a paradigm shift offering unprecedented prospects for global investors and business. The Indian stock market during 2006-2011 had been the second best performing market among the major markets in the world. Allowing Qualified Foreign Investors (QFIs) since 2012 to invest in Indian equity, mutual funds and corporate bonds had evoked considerable interest in the Gulf region.
    • Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) had invested US$ 31 billion in calendar year 2012 – US$ 24.4 billion in equity and US$ 6.6 billion in debt. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flow of US$ 46.5 billion in 2011-12 constituted the largest FDI inflow India had ever received, reflecting the confidence of the long-term investor in the Indian economy. FDI inflows were expected to remain buoyant.
    • “Path-breaking” reforms were adopted: Pursuant to petrol prices being de-controlled, diesel subsidies were partially curtailed. 51% foreign investment was permitted in multi-brand retail, i.e. supermarkets and department stores. In civil aviation, upto 49% foreign investment was allowed in Indian domestic carriers. Foreign investment limit in broadcasting was raised. Foreign companies could own upto 49% in Indian insurance companies. The Union Budget last month had kept the reform process going. Key interest rates had been cut to spur growth, etc.
  5. To sum up, despite the uncertainties of the world economic situation, India’s growth story remained credible given its fundamental strengths. Indian economy’s key strengths included the strong and stable growth prospects supported by high savings and investment ratios, high degree of political stability and resilient institutions, deep capital markets, competitive private sector, significant foreign capital inflows, large foreign exchange reserves, demographic dividend and so forth.
  6. Today, it was time to look beyond the crisis-ridden economies to focus on large growth markets such as India. A confident and optimistic India was looking to cooperate further with this dynamic region in our neighbourhood, especially Oman. In this context, feedback regarding the ‘India Business Seminar’ revealed that it was considered extremely useful and reinforced the conviction that India’s growth story remained intact and continued as an integral part of this being an Asian Century.

The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme is the flagship programme of India’s effort for technical cooperation in the international arena. It was born on 15 September 1964 by a decision of the Indian Cabinet. It was based on the vision of our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, but formally launched under the premiership of Lal Bahadur Shastri. At that time a question was asked as to what could a newly independent, poor, poverty-stricken, developing country like India provide to the others? But it was the conviction of the founding fathers that India would share its unique socio-economic development experience and technological achievements with other developing countries.

ITEC, originating on a modest scale, has since graduated in magnitude, geographical spread, and innovative forms of technical cooperation. Today, ITEC extends to 161 countries in Asia, Africa, East Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean as well as Pacific and Small Island countries. ITEC, essentially envisaged as a bilateral programme of cooperation, has evolved and expanded over the years. One of the major activities under ITEC is vocational training or capacity building imparted by 47 state-of-the-art institutions conducting around 300 courses, having over 8000 scholarships per year. ITEC covers a very wide range of subjects from traditional areas to leading-edge technologies. IT and English language courses are amongst the most popular.

ITEC is firmly rooted in South-South Cooperation, which constitutes a fundamental pillar of India’s foreign policy and diplomacy. South-South cooperation is a partnership born out of a shared sense of solidarity; it is entirely voluntary and free of conditionalities. It furthers national development priorities of our partners and has national ownership at its centre. It is demand-driven and has response-oriented nature of cooperation. It is a completely different paradigm from the traditional North-South aid along with its attendant donor-recipient construct, conditionalities, etc. India has been a staunch proponent and practitioner of South-South Cooperation. India remains committed to providing economic cooperation and technical assistance to our partners in the South. ITEC continues to be a vibrant instrument of channelizing this assistance.

India’s ITEC programme dovetails very well with the Sultanate’s priorities of human resource development, capacity building, skills upgradation through education, training and vocational courses for increased jobs. Under ITEC, India had been extending 50 fully-funded training scholarships to Oman annually. Given its popularity, ITEC slots were increased for Oman to 80 last year, i.e. 2011-12. The ITEC scholarships have been further raised to 125 this year, i.e. 2012-13. This marks an increase of 150% over one year or so. Clearly, ITEC has acquired a brand name or distinct image of its own in Oman.

Recent innovations in the Programme include building ITEC alumni networks at three levels – globally, institution-wise and country-based – for keeping in touch with peers, trainers and institutes. Social media tools, including the Ministry of External Affairs’ exclusive facebook page for ITEC alumni, have been made available. Embassies celebrate ITEC day to bring together alumni and to renew contacts. I am very pleased that this year’s annual ITEC Day scheduled for February 18, 2013 in Muscat will help further strengthen the ITEC alumni network in Oman.

  1. India-Oman relations are civilizational and go back to the traditional maritime trade ties across the Arabian Sea. Historically, people-to-people contacts over centuries were exclusively by boats sailing over waters that joined the two countries. But the salience of journeys by sea has declined over time. At the same time, geography dictated that road and railway connections between India and Oman were non options. Thus, today, airline flights are the most efficient and practical mode of connectivity popular with the jet-set of the 21st century for travel between India and Oman.
  2. The air traffic regime between India and Oman has been governed by the Air Services Agreement of 1995 and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) periodically agreed to in response to fast changing requirements. Accordingly, with the Embassy’s proactive involvement, a new landmark India-Oman MoU on air services was concluded on November 26, 2012 in Muscat by the civil aviation authorities of the two countries. The MoU signals a substantial increase in airline capacity between the two countries: Seats are to increase from 11550 to 16016 per week for either side in each direction. Flights are to go up from 75 to 104 per week for either side in each direction. This 38% plus overall increase in seats and flights was long overdue, given that the last bilateral MoU was concluded nearly five years ago in January 2008.
  3. The airlines on both sides can now introduce flights on new routes or increase frequency on existing routes to meet the growing demand for travel between the two countries. For example, Oman Air may now fly direct to Goa in addition to increasing frequency to some of the existing ten destinations in India. Similarly, the Indian carriers can now deploy additional flights/seats on existing or new routes between India and Oman. The new MoU also incorporates options to explore flights on a code-sharing basis in future.
  4. Overall, the latest MoU is reflective of the considerable goodwill on both sides due to our exceptionally close bilateral relations. It embodies a forward-looking approach enabling major expansion of air operations upto an additional 58 flights and 8932 seats per week each way, in response to the felt need for additional flights and seats between the two countries.
  5. By a happy coincidence, the restriction on tourism travel to India requiring a gap of at least sixty days between successive journeys has been withdrawn from last month. This should help facilitate easier travel to India for multi-entry tourist visa holders. During 2012, the Embassy in Muscat has issued around 50,000 visas to Omani nationals and foreigners marking an annual increase of 18%, which is presumably the highest growth from the GCC to India.
  6. Briefly, therefore, the bilateral air traffic entitlements under the recent MoU with increased flights and seating capacities, combined with withdrawal of the tourist visa restriction, augurs well for robust tourism flows between the two countries during 2013 and beyond. It also points towards all factors being ‘go’ for easier travel to India. These enhanced flight connections will not only help sustain the age-old people-to-people contacts between the two countries, but provide a renewed impetus for increased visits and exchanges covering tourists, businessmen, students, etc. All in all, this will go a long way in further strengthening and deepening the India-Oman strategic partnership.
  7. A very bright and happy New Year 2013 to one and all.

Last month, the hinterland town of Gurgaon adjoining Delhi was host to a ministerial gathering to discuss Indian Ocean cooperation. The Foreign Ministers, in the framework of Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) with the theme ‘IOR-ARC at Fifteen: the Next Decade’, took stock of the past while charting course for the future.

Established in 1997, IOR-ARC has over the last decade and a half acquired substance and salience to evolve into the ‘apex pan-Indian Ocean multilateral forum’. Starting from seven countries, IOR-ARC today boasts twenty members with the Union of Comoros joining the grouping. Similarly, it has six Dialogue Partners, with USA accepted at Gurgaon.

Under India’s chairmanship of IOR-ARC, the ministerial at Bengaluru last year had sought to re-focus the diverse areas and activities by subsuming them under six priority areas of cooperation: maritime security and piracy, disaster risk reduction, trade & investments facilitation, fisheries management, academic and S&T cooperation, as well as tourism & cultural exchanges. Numerous cooperation initiatives have spawned under these verticals. Building on this, the Gurgaon conclave has sought to put these in a ten-year perspective for the next decade.

IOR-ARC from its inception presupposes an absence of binding conditionalities on its members providing them a platform for inclusive and cooperative engagement by sharing their capacities and facilities. This practical approach combined with the flexibility of ‘variable geometry’ whereby a critical mass of member countries can join together for any cooperative activity, has contributed to comfort with IOR-ARC.

IOR-ARC has special significance for India and Oman - both founding members and active participants. India has been proactive in maritime security and piracy as well as disaster management; Oman has taken the lead regarding fisheries and tourism cooperation. In fact, the traditional, historical, centuries-old trading links between India and Oman joined by the waters of the Indian Ocean have found additional contemporary resonance through IOR-ARC. Both countries have naturally worked in close consultation and cooperation for nurturing and taking IOR-ARC forward.

The Indian Ocean occupies increasing geo-strategic importance in this Asian century, especially for countries on the rim. For India and Oman, IOR-ARC constitutes a classic example of their exceptionally close bilateral relations and strategic partnership being further strengthened by the regional cooperation grouping.

Finally, on a personal note, as the points-person for drafting of the IOR-ARC Charter in the mid-1990s, one feels a sense of satisfaction and pride at the resilience shown and progress registered by IOR-ARC. But one must confess that not everything visualized for IOR-ARC has been realized. For example, the acronym ‘IOR-ARC’ was adopted with the fond hope that over time, the grouping would come to be known as the ‘Indian Ocean Arc’ or simply ‘the Arc’ considering the arc-shaped geography of the Indian Ocean rim from Cape Town through the rim countries to Perth. This has apparently not happened, given the proposal to change the name of IOR-ARC! But as the cliché goes ‘What’s in a name’, as long as the IOR-ARC initiative after fifteen years is considered a success and embarked on a course with its agenda set for the next decade.

India’s rich history and heritage coupled with its geographical and cultural diversity make India an attractive, even irresistible, tourist destination. It presents a unique mix combining heritage and cultural tourism with business, sports and medical tourism. India attracts and captivates the global visitors by its natural beauty, architectural splendour, exotic beaches, colourful festivals, authentic cuisine and amazing shopping. India also has one of the largest and fastest growing medical tourism.

Improvements in infrastructure, accessibility and connectivity, professionally trained human resources, range of tourist products and marketing campaign under the banner ‘Incredible India’ has helped tourism growth in volume and value. In 2011, India had 740 million domestic travellers across segments. In the same year, total Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India were 6.29 million with foreign exchange earnings of US$ 16.691 billion (global rank-17) up 17.6% from 2010. India’s foreign exchange earnings from tourism grew by an impressive 14.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during 2001-12, nearly double the global average.

The Gulf constitutes an important and emerging tourism source for India, and Oman is a major contributor of tourism to India. Visitors from Oman to India reached 42,208 in 2011 and 39,781 in the first nine months (upto September) of 2012, registering an increase of 20% per annum. Within tourism, the sub-sector of medical tourism, having declined in 2011 and though still small, was growing at a truly incredible 144% in 2012, pursuant to specific measures, including by the Embassy, during the last year to facilitate patients.

India offers something for every age group and interest: history, culture, architecture, leisure, adventure, beaches, luxury stays (including heritage hotels), wellness/spa, river cruising, backwaters, rural life and not to forget cuisine and shopping. India is simply a tourist’s delight from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. One can cover the popular ‘Golden triangle’ of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur; visit forts and deserts of Rajasthan; see ‘God’s own country’ Kerala; experience the hill stations from the Himalayan peaks across picturesque resorts; take one of the luxurious ‘Palace on Wheels’ train circuits; relish the natural beauty; soak in the monsoons; enjoy the wildlife (both animal and bird sanctuaries); play golf at interesting courses; watch polo (of horses, elephants or even camels!) or simply benefit from medical/wellness tourism.

India offers wellness options from the 5000 years old practice of Ayurveda and Yoga on one hand to state-of-the-art modern allopathic treatments and surgeries on the other. India is increasingly a destination for higher-end tertiary care like cardiology, orthopaedics, neurology, oncology, organ transplants, etc. Affordability of treatment remains a big pull-factor with costs just a fraction of those elsewhere. And to support medical tourism, the Indian healthcare industry estimated at US$ 40 billion in 2010 is expected to reach US$ 280 billion by 2020.

In fact, tourist flows both ways between India and Oman are on the rise, but tremendous potential remains untapped. Moreover, innovative circuits linking Oman and parts of India could be jointly explored and marketed. Joint ventures in hotels and tourism industry offer promising avenues. And for the discerning entrepreneurs looking for business opportunities, India is open to 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in health and medical services under the automatic route resulting in over US$ 2 billion FDI in 2011-12.

India is a short-haul destination just three hours away from Oman connected by around 150 direct flights per week in each direction, linking Muscat and Salalah to a dozen cities in India. It remains attractive for leisure, shopping, wellness or business. The ‘Incredible India Roadshow’ on October 14 will showcase all this and more. Incredible India beckons one and all from the Sultanate – Omanis, Indians, foreigners, et al!

As I reached Muscat in end October last year, the city was abuzz with the excitement of the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM)’s inauguration earlier in the month. It was from all indications a grand opening befitting the grandeur of the state-of-the-art opera house, a real pride of Muscat. Therefore, one naturally checked the calendar for any Indian shows during the first season. I must confess to a little disappointment at the absence of any Indian programme during the 2011-12 season.


2. The Embassy decided that we should work for having at least one Indian performance during the next i.e. 2012-13 season of ROHM. With this objective in mind, we put forward some suggestions for the consideration of the organisers. We are, of course, absolutely delighted that during the forthcoming ROHM season from September 2012 through April 2013, we have not one but all of four Indian troupes performing on eight evenings. The ROHM selection promises to provide a real treat of Indian classical music with its great range and diversity. This cultural cooperation constitutes an essential and integral dimension of the multi-faceted India-Oman bilateral relations and rich people-to-people contacts.



3. This September will see the mega show ‘Nine Jewels of India’ as ‘Panchtatva’ symbolizing the five elements of nature – earth, wind, water, fire and space. The nine jewels include famous artistes - Durga Jasraj, the classical vocalist, Pt. Jasraj of the Mewati gharana of Hindustani classical music acclaimed for his novel jugalbandi called ‘jasrangi’, Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, classical instrumentalist on ‘bansuri’ - the Indian bamboo flute, Niladri Kumar, sitar player who innovated the ‘zitar’ a combination of sitar and guitar, Vikku Vinayakram, exponent of Carnatic music on the ‘ghatam’ or the earthen pot, Selva Ganesh, percussionist in the Carnatic tradition on ‘kanjira’ or South Indian drum, Sridhar Parthasarthy on ‘Mridangam’ and Ramkumar Mishra and Yogesh Samsi ‘tabla’ maestros. This will be followed in November by the ‘Manganiyar Seduction’. The Manganiyars are muslim musicians from the deserts of Rajasthan who traditionally performed for the kings on feast and festivals. Their repertoire ranges from ballads about the kings to sufi songs of mystics. Though classified as folk, their traditional music has classical roots. In February 2013, ROHM has two performances by Zakir Hussain, son of legendary tabla player Allah Rakha and himself a well-known tabla percussionist, music producer, film actor and composer. The season’s final Indian rendering in March next year will come from Dr. L. Subramaniam, an acclaimed violinist, composer and conductor in fusion techniques and compositions of classical Carnatic and Western music. This obviously provides a rich and veritable exposition of Indian classical music at its very best for one and all to savour.



4. Talking of Indian art, culture, dance and music, we are extremely fortunate in Oman to be able to enjoy music, dance and cultural performances of the highest quality and popularity by various performing troupes and artistes from India showcasing the great richness, variety and diversity of India’s classical, semi-classical and folk traditions as well as art forms covering music, dance and drama. The Embassy is grateful to the various organizers who have been working tirelessly to bring Indian troupes and artistes to Oman ranging from classical to folk to popular, vocal to instrumental, Hindustani to Carnatic, traditional to modern, solo to group for the discerning audiences and art connoisseurs in Oman.



5. While on the topic of art and culture, one has been extremely impressed by the high quality and caliber of local Indian talent displayed at various functions and concerts throughout Oman. This attests to the great interest, involvement and encouragement provided to young talent by parents, teachers and audiences.



6. It would be the Embassy’s continuing endeavour to keep up the rich tradition of Indian music, dance and drama by sustaining Indian classical and folk performances under the kind patronage, and with full cooperation of the Omani authorities, and taking them to even greater heights as is bound to happen with the forthcoming ROHM calendar.