The Hanoitimes - Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Parvathaneni Harish said that he enjoyed shopping at Tet markets in Hanoi where unique traditional handicrafts, ceramic and brass items from various provinces are sold and these are not available during the rest of the year.
Could you please share some of your thoughts about this country and the Vietnamese people?
I have been in Vietnam for nearly three years and what struck me as remarkable is the perseverance and determination of the Party, State and people of Vietnam in reducing poverty levels from over 70% in the 1990s to a single digit today. This is a remarkable achievement in any developing country context at global level and is worthy of praise and appreciation.
This has been achieved through focussed interventions in the fields of health, education and overall socio-economic well-being. Many Indians of my generation and earlier have closely followed the struggle of the Vietnamese people for independence and national reunification. Our bilateral relationship at the people’s level is over two millennia old and in recent times goes back to our freedom struggle led by President Ho Chi Minh and Mahatma Gandhi.
Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Parvathaneni Harish
I have witnessed the developmental transformation in Vietnam in the last few years across sectors such as agriculture, tourism, and more recently, those impacted by the fourth industrial revolution. It has been a unique experience representing India in Vietnam at a time of unprecedented momentum and upgrading of relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, strong economic engagement with bilateral trade of US$13 billion, established and growing defense and security cooperation and collaboration in agriculture, science and technology, peaceful uses of atomic energy in outer space, oil and gas and renewable energy.
How do you feel about the traditional Tet and what are your most favourite moments on this occasion?
Tet holiday (Lunar New Year) is not only the biggest festival of Vietnam but also represents a point of reference for change, like this year when we move from the Year of the Dog to the Year of the Pig. In the last few years one has seen the festivities being advanced to include Christmas and New Year celebrations, especially in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other cities.
I have enjoyed shopping at Tet markets in Hanoi where unique traditional handicrafts, ceramic and brass items from various provinces are sold and these are not available during the rest of the year. It is also the biggest networking period of the year with so many festivals get together and celebrations in government, business and industry, and family and friends, where everyone takes the time to reconnect even if they had not done so during the year.
After the midnight of Lunar New Year’s Eve, Vietnamese often go to pagodas and wish luck for themselves and their families in the new year. Does your family follow this custom? In India, what do people often do during New Year holidays?
Visiting the temples and pagodas during Tet and praying is a custom that my family and I have enjoyed during the last two years. We also had opportunities to take part in Mother Goddess worship rituals which was again a unique experience. In India, traditional New Year is celebrated in different states during April such as Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, Baisakhi in Punjab, Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra/Karnataka, Vishu in Kerala, and Bihu in Assam.
During these New Year festivities, which also coincide with the harvest festivals, people not only visit temples, Gurudwaras and other places of worship for prayers, but also present gifts to family and friends and prepare special dishes to share with the community. In the south, a special dish is made with all tastes so that it is bitter, sweet, salty and sour, to indicate that life has all shades and nothing is permanent.
What are your expectations for the India-Vietnam relations in the year 2019?
The India - Vietnam relations have been on a continuously upward trajectory in the last three years. With the successful visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2016, our relationship has been upgraded to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The year 2017 was celebrated as the Year of Friendship commemorating 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the 10th anniversary of our strategic partnership and the 25th partnership of ASEAN - India dialogue partnership.
Last year was remarkable with our bilateral relations receiving an unprecedented boost with the successful visit to India by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in January for the ASEAN - India Commemorative Summit and as a Guest of Honour at our Republic Day Parade; the successful state visit to India in March by late President Tran Dai Quang; the successful state visit to Vietnam in November by President Ram Nath Kovind; the successful visit to Vietnam of our External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in August for the 16th meeting of the Joint Commission and the 3rd Indian Ocean Conference; and the visit of our Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in June.
I’m confident that with ongoing sincere efforts on both sides, we are on track to achieve the trade target set by our leaders of reaching a bilateral trade volume of US$15 billion by the year 2020. Our defense and security cooperation is strong with established dialogue mechanisms and India remains committed to meet the training requirements of the Vietnamese armed forces.
We also look forward to further defense industry cooperation and cooperation in tackling traditional and non-traditional security threats including terrorism and cyber security challenges. Vietnam is also our gateway to the ASEAN and has been a strong partner as our coordinating country during the period 2015 - 2018. We are celebrating 2019 as the ASEAN - India Year of Tourism and this was declared by the Tourism Minister of India Mr. K.J. Alphons along with ASEAN Tourism Ministers in Ha Long in January 2019.
Our cultural cooperation is strong and there is huge interest in Vietnam for Indian culture. Swami Vivekananda Cultural Center that opened in 2016 has been a key platform in this regard. Yoga is very popular and thousands of Vietnamese take part in International Day of Yoga celebrations every year with enthusiasm and passion.
I wish the best of luck to our Vietnamese friends and peace, progress and prosperity in Vietnam, the region, and the world at large.
Thank you very much!