Diwali Celebration with the President of Uganda-2017

H.E the President of the Republic of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni,

H.E the High Commissioner of India to Uganda Mr. Ravi Shankar,

Hon Sanjay Tanna, Mr. Parmindar Katongole & All dignitaries and holders of high office,

Indian Association Board of trustees, Chairman Mr. Chirag Dave and the Executive committee members,

Captains of various business houses & communities present,

Ladies  & Gentlemen

Your Excellency Sir,

First and foremost, we would like to congratulate you upon your landslide victory in the last election. Under your tenure, Uganda will continue to develop & maintain national unity and social stability. Our community looks forward in working with you to strengthen our ties of friendship and solidarity

Your Excellency with your leadership, we are optimistic that the future is bright & promising. Our great hope is that together we can address key challenges of common interest, which we face as Uganda, for the betterment of our people and Uganda as a whole.

Your Excellency, we look Indian because of our Brown Skin, but we are nationals of many other countries like America, British, Canada, Kenya & Uganda etc. The only common thing among us is that we are all of Indian Origin

In Hindi we refer to our Birth place as Janam Bhoomi, which are in different countries, but what we have in common, is that Uganda is our Karama Bhoomi; i.e. our work place & adopted home

Looking around, I can see our business people, who have given, enormous amounts of contributions, in terms of business & commerce to this country. People of Indian origin, around the world, are known for their successful, business accumenship.

Now let me talk a bit about some myths about Africa in the Western world and our role as Ambassadors of Uganda

Africa in the past used to be known for

  • Countries meant for Tourism
  • Famine/starvation
  • Tribal war zone
  • Uneducated population

But today Africa has

  • Stable Government
  • Right policies & regulatory bodies in place
  • Discovered huge natural resources & minerals
  • Huge mass of educated youth

And due to this Africa is the future of the world.  

We all seated here and celebrating Diwali at State House with HE are the Ambassadors of Uganda and need to change the perception about Africa in general and sell Uganda to the International Business community

At this juncture, let me highlight & mention that according to one Harvard University research; Uganda & India both top the list of the fastest growing economies of the world.

Uganda has a huge potential because of its endowment like, Oil, Lake Victoria, the climate, mineral wealth, location, Flora & fauna & a task force of over a million, young educated youths.

We as Indian Association would like to pledge to you Mr. President that, we will join your hands to fulfill & support, your vision.

On this occasion of Diwali Celebrations at State House, I would like to inform our business people that on Wednesday 6th Dec as the chairman of a Technical Working Group of PIRT on “competiveness & ease of doing business in Uganda”. I presented our concerns of the BUBU guidelines to HE and he immediately advised PPDA to ensure that all manufacturing companies which are located in Uganda are to be considered as “Local Service Provider”

Your Excellency Sir, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you in a special way. You have really helped to make things run smoothly for investors in Uganda. You have taken us as your own children. Our business community, really appreciates your support & help for streamlining important business matters, wherever needed

(Can I request us all to stand up and give a big Thank you to His Excellency the President)

Thank you Sir once gain

Your Excellency Sir, Tonight I would like to take this opportunity to bring to your attention some of our key proposition and appeals

  1. Our Women wing, Indian Women Association, have been actively involved in various charitable activities and spend more than Ugx 500M/per annum in various charitable activities

Your Excellency Sir, the Indian Women Association own property at Nakasero, since 1956. Recently i.e.  last year some unsolicited element created a fake title of the same land and tried to occupy the property. In the night, they demolished a part of their building and humiliated our women. We humbly beg for your support to help resolve this matter so that our ladies can restart their charitable activities from the premises.

Your Excellency Sir, the Chairperson of Indian Women Association is here & she has a dossier which she will like to handover to your office with a request for help.

  • Since beginning of this year, department of Immigration does not have a Board and thus we the investors are unable to renew our certificate of residence. This is generating a lot of inconvenience and hardships to us

It is our humble appeal that the Immigration Board maybe appointed as soon as possible

  • Your Excellency Sir, if possible our Indian business forum, would like to play, an active advisory role, in URA, UIA, Tourism Board & The National Budget, PIRT & other such institutions. Indian Businesses are important stakeholders for these organizations and hence our input will surely be instrumental. Your Excellency Sir, Indian Business Houses would be honored, if they are given a position on the Board of these institutions. We assure you; we would play an important role & contribute to the economy of the country.
  • Your Excellency Sir, we have one humble proposition. The people of Indian origin have been part of the development of Uganda for the last 100 Yrs. The first speaker of the Parliament of Uganda was Hon. Narendra M. Patel, a person of Indian origin, Later Mr. Shafiq Arein was being appointed as a minister in the Government of Uganda. Keeping this same tradition some of our brothers of Ugandan origin, have been in active politics like Mr. Pradeep Karia, Mr. Sanjay Tanna & Mr. Parminder Katongole. As the Indian community, we humbly wish, if our request can be considered for some representation in the Government Ministry.
  • Your Excellency Sir, in Uganda we have around 20 temples of different faiths some of which are over 100 Yrs old and the First in East Africa.  We also have one of our temples on the top of the hill & very near to the State House, Entebbe.

Your Excellency Sir, Our Community has not been fortunate to worship with you, we therefore would like to officially invite you, to one of our temples to worship with us for the continued blessing of Uganda and You Mr. President.  

  • The Indian Association of Uganda appreciates your government’s continued effort and commitment in facilitating peace & development. Indian Association as an organization has been in Uganda for the last 90 years engaging in various charitable activities with the Indigenous communities.

It’s with this back ground that we humbly request Your Excellency to be allocated at least 1 acre of Land within the city Centre of Kampala City to build a community hall to accommodate and handle most of our community activities

  • Your Excellency Sir, in your speeches & programs you have continuously echoed the importance of Agriculture and in your statement identifying the 10 strategic bottlenecks the No. 8 talks about the under development of Agriculture. You also mentioned that there is no complete commercialization of agriculture, no irrigation, low use of fertilizers, poor disease control etc

Your Excellency Sir, Uganda recently hosted the CII Exim Bank of India Business Conclave. We the Indian Business Forum with the support of Indian High commission ensured to bring Indian business delegates with expertise in Irrigation, Fertilizers & pesticides

Also recently many investors from India have invested in Agriculture especially in cotton, tea, rice etc

Also noted is point No. 7 of the 10 strategic bottlenecks. You have mentioned about the under developed service sector. Your Excellency Sir, our business community is trying to do something in that areas especially in regards to the Medical sector. We have established Norvick hospital on Bombo Road, International Medical Centre(IHK) in Namuwongo and Victoria Hospital in Kamwonya, Agarwal Eye Hospital and many Dental Hospitals are there to offer specialized medical care.

Very soon Agha Khan Hospital a Multi-specialty hospital will be operational

  • As noted in your statement identifying the 10 strategic bottlenecks Your Excellency, We the business community also face the same problem of non-availability of skilled man power. As said earlier, Uganda has a huge number of Educated Youth, but how many of them have Technical/Managerial/professional or Entrepreneurial skills. This gap in skills needs to be addressed. Uganda has a project called” Skilling Uganda”

Various MDA’s are working for this project in their own way. But this Project skilling Uganda lacks a coordinated effort. It needs an IT enabled Management solution to coordinate all stake holders like Ministry of Education, Vocational Institute, demand of Industry, Youths desirous of getting skills, unemployed skilled workers & various donors. 

Your Excellency Sir, Our Indian IT companies can certainly play a major role in this project of “Skilling Uganda”

  • Your Excellency Sir, today is a day of celebration, and not a day, to discuss business.  Our business community, in a small group, of say 25 business houses, seeks an appointment, with you to bring to your attention, some other business concerns & suggestions, which need immediate attention.

Your Excellency Sir, We have all contributed to the Ugandan Story. At the heart of the Story, is our belief, in Uganda, belief, that we can turn vulnerability and despair, into confidence and hope; belief, that out of the trauma of separation, we could build, a modern metropolis and a beautiful home; belief, that whatever the challenges of this uncertain world, we can thrive and prosper, as one united people.

Let this belief and spirit, burn bright in each one of us, and guide us forward, for the years to come.

Together, let us be the pioneers, of our generation. Together, let us create, a brighter future, for all Ugandans.

Mr. President Sir, please accept our best wishes and good fortune on the occasion of Diwali; the festival of lights.

A very happy Diwali & A Happy New Year.

Thank You.

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