Passage to Ind ia
South African delegation to support President Cyril Ramaphosa at Republic Day parade
A DELEGATION of South Africans will be heading to India in support of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is to be the chief guest at India’s 70th Republic Day celebrations in Delhi on January 26.
The group, made up of business people, politicians, community leaders and professionals, will first participate at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
The PBD is celebrated once in two years to strengthen engagement of the overseas Indian community with the Indian government and to reconnect them with their roots. During the convention, selected overseas Indians are also honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to recognise their contributions to various fields in India and abroad.
The theme of the PBD Convention 2019 is the “Role of Indian Diaspora in building New India”.
A member of the delegation, Dasarath Chetty, said it was a huge honour that the South African president was the chief guest.
Parliamentarian, Omie Singh, who is also part of the group leaving this week, described it as a historic trip.
“We are proud that our president is the chief guest of the Republic Day parade, an important event on the Indian calendar. We are going to wish India on their 70th anniversary and to offer the president our support,” said Singh, adding that South Africa had a unique bond with India.
The Indian high commissioner to South Africa, Ruchira Kamboj, said it was a very exciting moment for India-south Africa bilateral relations.
“We have the president of South Africa shortly visiting India on a state visit. We are delighted and confident that this would take India-south Africa relations to the next level,” said Kamboj.
She said 2018 was an outstanding year for India-south Africa relations – defence ties have resumed, South African companies are investing in India, trade between the two countries increased by 13% over the previous year and India launched the Gandhi Mandela Skills Institute.
She added that they were delighted that a dozen SA journalists would be in India to cover the parade and visit of the president.
This week, after years of legal battle, the High Court in Delhi permitted the installation of a bust or statue of Nelson Mandela on the road named after him in New Delhi.
The High Commission of South Africa, through South African Consul in Chandigarh, India, had since 2013 been keen to highlight the India-south Africa friendship, said advocate Varun Khanna.
“The intention of the High Commission and Honorary Consul Padma Shri Vikramjit Singh Sahney was to unveil the statue in 2013, then on the sidelines of an India-africa Summit in 2015, then the BRICS Summit in 2016. The delays till 2015-2016 were on account of the time taken to secure permissions as per the regular procedure,” said Khanna.
He said due to a perceived misunderstanding of an order passed by the Supreme Court of India, the permissions could not be secured from all departments. The court order that was relied upon sought to temporarily restrict the installation of statues, structures in public roads, pavements and other places of public utilities. This order was passed in the context of certain doubts being raised regarding whether the necessary permissions for construction on public property were in compliance with the law.
Khanna said that on Sahney’s instructions they filed the necessary applications before the Supreme Court in order to obtain the clarification that the temporary restrictions could not apply to their case.
After senior advocate Rupinder Singh Suri highlighted the fact that the earlier temporary restriction was wholly inapplicable and that several departments had already accorded necessary permissions, the High Court of Delhi this week permitted the installation, which was likely to happen by January 25.