Speeches & Statements Speeches and Statements

Speeches & Statements

Main Remarks by the Minister of State for External Affairs Dr. V. K. Singh at the 7th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Foreign Ministers Meeting in Vientiane, Laos (July 24, 2016)

August 01, 2016

Excellencies,
  • I hope you enjoyed the film clip. I am pleased to share with you copies of the film, in both its long and short versions, and hope that you will not only be able to spare time to watch them but also disseminate them widely.
  • It is a matter of great satisfaction for us that the MGC Museum has been functioning effectively. It not only showcases our shared cultural heritage but is active in conducting educational workshops to familiarise participants with textiles, fibres, materials and designs through a touch and feel approach, arranging sessions of story telling based on the narratives display, as well as holding exhibitions and other events.
  • I am also happy to announce that India will train one representative each from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand in museology and conservation techniques, under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme of Government of India. We hope that these representatives will thereafter be able to use their skills at the MGC Museum.
  • A key initiative under MGC is the Quick Impact Projects for CLMV countries. I am pleased to note that these have taken off, with 6 projects in Cambodia and 5 in Vietnam already under implementation. In addition, 3 projects in Lao PDR and 2 in Myanmar have been identified and I hope that in the coming months, these will also be implemented.
  • It was agreed during the 6th MGC Ministerial Meeting in New Delhi to widen areas of cooperation in the fields of Rice Germ Plasm and Enhancing Rice production through Mechanization and downstream processing, MSMEs, Health and cooperation in pandemics management and creation of a Common Archival Resource Centre at Nalanda University. The revised concept papers on all these themes were circulated to MGC SOM Leaders and we look forward to convening the Joint Working Group Meetings in the respective fields as soon as our MGC partners give us the go-ahead.
  • Excellencies, India provides over 900 scholarships to MGC countries on an annual basis under the bilateral and multilateral tracks. The schemes are administered by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations and ITEC. We are happy to announce 50 new scholarships for MGC countries, in areas such as culture, tourism, engineering, management teachers’ training, film directing, sound, lighting and stage. These are areas that you have expressed interest in. We urge all MGC partner countries to optimally utilize these scholarships, which will not only serve as a stepping stone for capacity building but also enhance mutual understanding.
  • Numerous projects on capacity building are being undertaken by India in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam as part of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration – Narrowing the Development Gap. We have set up Centers of English Language and IT Training in CLMV countries which will be supplemented with new Centers of Excellence in Software Development and Training, which are under implementation. Existing capacity building programmes in law enforcement, financial markets, ICT and space, can also be supplemented to meet the requirements of MGC partners.
  • Excellencies, enhancing connectivity between the Mekong region and India is a matter of priority for India. India became the third dialogue partner of ASEAN in 2013 to initiate an ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee-India Meeting. While India has made progress in implementing the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multimodal Project, we would seek your assistance in early finalization of the Motor Vehicles Agreement to facilitate soft connectivity issues pertaining to the Trilateral Highway. This is also important if we seek to extend the Highway to Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam.
  • Equally important is the imperative to increase maritime and air connectivity between MGC countries as well as India and transforming the corridors of connectivity into corridors for economic cooperation.
  • Excellencies, I urge you all to avail of the US $1 billion Line of Credit announced by our Prime Minister in November 2015 for connectivity projects to digitally bond with India. Proposals on promoting digital as well as physical connectivity may be shared through official channels at the earliest.
  • In this context, I am also pleased to announce that India will host a seminar on the MGC focusing on building stronger connectivity and enhancing our multi-dimensional ties at the ASEAN-India Center in New Delhi in September/October 2016. Two representatives from each country would be invited to participate to brainstorm on how to take the MGC process forward.
  • Excellencies, I would further like to take this opportunity to invite our MGC partners to participate as Guests of Honour in the 5th International Buddhist Conclave scheduled to be held in Sarnath/ Varanasi, India in October/November 2016. This biennial initiative of our Ministry of Tourism to promote and showcase our Buddhist Heritage can serve as a launch pad for further discussions on developing a Mekong-India Buddhist trail. We invite monks, scholars and others from MGC countries to participate in the event.
  • Finally, with a view to time bound delivery, our officials have worked out a draft Plan of Action for the MGC for the period 2016-18. This has been finalized at the MGC SOM yesterday, and I seek your approval to formally endorse this Plan of Action.
  • Before I conclude, I would like to congratulate Myanmar on assuming the Chairmanship of the MGC. We stand ready to contribute and assist in any way we can to take this mutually beneficially partnership forward.
  • Once again, Excellencies, I thank all of you for your interest in making the Mekong Ganga Cooperation a dynamic and effective platform for sub-regional cooperation.
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