Our people-to-people interactions date back to the 19th Century, with the arrival of Irish persons belonging to the British civil, medical, engineering and army services. Irish missionaries and educationists also spread out into all regions of India. Sister Nivedita, Annie Besant Margaret Cousins are Irish personalities well-known for their contribution in India. Noble laureates Rabindranath Tagore and W.B. Yeats inspired each other. After its independence,India opened its Embassy in Dublin in 1951. Honorary Consulates were established in Chennai and Kolkata in 2010 and 2017. The Irish Government opened a full-edged Consulate General in Mumbai in April 2019, as part of its AsiaPacic outreach policy. There is enormous goodwill and warmth at the political level. As the new Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi visited Dublin in September 2015, choosing Ireland as one of the rst countries to be
India’s share in total Irish trade for the period Jan-Sep 2021 is only 0.514 per cent. This is much below potential and there is scope for diversication of product baskets as well as increase in absolute volumes of items traded between the two countries. Engaging with Ireland with a strategic approach aimed at broader multi-sectoral B2B linkages would be benecial.The departure of the UK from the EU affects Ireland more than any other EU nation. Traditionally close economic, social, trade and investment integration with UK has come under stress and the supply chains have got disturbed. Pandemic has also brought to the fore the need for reliable, trusted and transparent supply lines andtrade ties.
Ireland’s unique connectivities and global networks can be signicant force multipliers for Indian companies. Ireland is now the only English-speaking EU country and has the historic opportunity to present itself as the focal point for English-speaking world for connecting and engaging with Europe.
While India is celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, 75 years of India’s independence, Ireland is celebrating 100 years of its independence. Thisis ahistoric timing for both. Itwould be appropriate for ourtwo countries to re-imagine and re-energise the traditionally friendly, multi-layered relations. We need to go beyond trade and deepen investment and technology partnerships and boost physical presence in each other country in business, intellectual and cultural space. Ireland has one of the most successful start-up clusters in the world, with about 16% success rate. There is huge merit in learning from each other’s experience in nurturing start-up, innovation andentrepreneurial eco-systems.Ireland is a signicant destination for Indian students seeking higher education, particularly post-graduate, doctoral and postdoctoral students in the areas of engineering, technology, medicine, and management. Approximately 5,000 Indian students are studying in Irish higher educational institutions.
The number of universities has grown very rapidly in India, especially in the private sector. Many of these universities need technical support and capacity enhancement of their faculty and external inputsfor global bench-marking oftheir content delivery. PremierIrish universities could be important partners in this field.
The embassy has set up institutional support structures to assist Indian citizens including students. ese included setting up of 24/7 helplines, Community Support Groups in all major cities of Ireland, as well as partnerships with Indian Associations, religious bodies and voluntary groups. Special support systems were instituted at Universities for the students. Embassy’s social media platforms were used effectively. Regular meetings/webinars are held with Indian community members. The easing of corona- related restrictions would greatly help in reverting to our ‘normal life’ and outreach as a Mission.
India and Ireland both have common areas of strength in IT, pharma, bio-pharma, medtech, R&D, etc. However, there is no conict of interest as both sides are occupying different niche areas. Both Ireland and India can complement each other’s’ efforts with mutual advantage Currently, there are a number of Irish companies present in India. India’s agship ‘Make in India’ initiative with the focus on selfreliance and using India’s strengths (young, skilled workforce, industrial incentives etc.) creates unprecedented attraction and enabling environment for Irish and other manufacturing companies to come and establish their manufacturing units in India. .
As per latest available gures, around 44,000 Irish tourists visit India annually, and a similar number of Indian visitors come to Ireland. Ireland gained traction as a tourist attraction after the introduction of common British Irish visa scheme. Electronic Tourist Visa facility was unilaterally extended to Ireland. It is hoped that easing of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions will see a pick-up in tourism between our two countries
The UN, specially the Security Council, needs to reform itself to stay relevant and effective. By keeping India out of the Security Council, the credibility of the UN system itself is eroded and undermined.India and Ireland are non-permanent UNSC members for 2021-22, and are working together on shared priorities of multilateralism, climate change, peacekeeping; rule based international order in post-Covid era, peace and security
There are approximately 45,000 persons of Indian origininIreland,ofwhomapprox.26,500 are PIOs and approx. 18,500 are NRIs. Many community members work in healthcare, IT, engineering and senior management positions. The community is well-regarded locally and has integrated well into Irish society. Former Irish PM and current DPM, Leo Varadkar has Indian ancestry. Irish Government’s decision to waive the requirement of obtaining additional work permit for spouses and partners of Critical Skill Employment Permit holders is likely to attract more Indian high-skilled workers to Ireland. It has also dispensed with the requirement of obtaining re-entry visa for GNIB card holders Irish people are generally aware of and respect the skills and talents of Indians. Indian medical personnel were serving in the frontlineduring theCOVID-19pandemic and their contribution is recognised by government andpeople ingeneral.
The local Indian community is strongly supported by the embassy for its various cultural performances, representing various States. A major event in the cultural calendar is the annual Indian Film Festival, with screening of contemporary lms, participation of lm actors/directors and thematic panel discussions. The famous Irish musical band U2 performed in Mumbai in 2019. There have been proposals of Irish musicians participating in Delhi International Jazz Festival. Indian artistes are expected to participate in Ireland India Film Festival (IFFI) which is observed every year popularising Indian cinema in Ireland.I am in talk with different stake holders in Ireland to make it attractive for Indian lm makers to come and shoot their lms in very picturesque Ireland. As part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav,we areplanning to celebrate the birth anniversary Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in Ireland as an iconic event. We are encouraging art galleries in Ireland to have an institutional arrangement with their Indian counterparts for exchange of paintings and art. MichaelDavittMuseum,CountyMayo,Ireland is already in touch with National Gandhi Museum, New Delhi for collaboration to take the legacy of both Mahatma Gandhi and Michael Davitt across the globe.
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