H.E the President of the republic of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, H.E the High Commissioner of India to Uganda Mr. S.N Ray, Hon Sanjay Tanna, All dignitaries and holders of high office, captains of various business houses & communities present , India Association Board of trustees and Executive committee, distinguished guest & all present.
Ladies & Gentlemen
Good evening to all of you
It is our pride /profound privilege to celebrate Diwali at statehouse for the second consecutive year. Thank you Mr. President, for honouring us, and allowing our community, to celebrate, our biggest Indian festival with you.
Diwali at State House, outside India ,is celebrated only in few countries, like Uganda, UK, USA & Mauritius. And thus, such moments are, very memorable for our community
On behalf of the Indian Community, we wish to convey our sincere thanks, for hosting us and for all the support, you have given, to our business community over the years.
Mr. President Sir, we look Indian because of our Brown Skin, but we are nationals of many other countries like America, British, Canada, Kenya & Uganda. 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
Our community in Uganda is approximately 10,000-12,000 in numbers which is about 0.04 % of the total Ugandan population but we contribute more than 60% to the government’s domestic revenue, which you are well aware of. This shows the Internal strength and business acumen ship of our community
However our community, have our own values of life and we strongly believe in religion & culture. A religion binds us away, from all evil activities. A religion could be any, Hinduism, Christianity, Muslim, Sikhism or Jainism. When we come here, to Uganda we not only bring Investment , Employment , technical Expertise , Market or revenue to the exchequer but we also bring, strong values of religion & culture, which unfortunately is losing its values, in some parts of the world
We have built more than 20 small or big temples /churches /mosques of different faiths in this country
Buddhism which was originated from India, with high values & practice was adopted by many countries in South East Asia like China, Thailand, Japan, etc etc but today it is getting lost at the cost of “no religion concept” This in the long run can create major problems for the world.
India conquered and dominated china and several other surrounding Asian countries culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her boarders
Mr. President Sir, you will agree with me, religion & culture are very important assets, for us, and it should never depreciate.
India is the birth place of Mahtma Gandhi a man now called the father of the Indian independence movement. Gandhi led a non-violent way of protesting against injustices and to date he has remained a hero in the hearts of many. Mr. President Sir, we are peace loving people
Mr. President Sir, I would like to mention again from my speech of last year, we Indian owned corporate’s, undertake several projects, of social benefits in this country, which portrays the magnanimous heart, of our community people.
Indians have a glory to be proud of, like, India never invaded any country, in her last 10,000 years of history, India invented the number system, zero, algebra, trigonometry and calculus Sanskrit, the Indian language, is the mother of all European languages. World’s first university was established in India in Takshsila in 700BC
Following a successful space mission to the Moon in the past. On 5th November 2013. India has now joined the elite nations Mars expedition.
If I quote Albert Einstein, he said, “We owe a lot to Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery, could have been made.”
And hence Mark Twain describes India as –India is the cradle of the human race, the mother of History, the grandmother of legend and the grandmother of tradition. Most valuable, and the most instructive materials, in the history of man, are treasured up, in India.
Looking around the room, 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.
Your Excellency Sir, I would like to take this opportunity to raise a major issue, on behalf of our business community
Most of the Indian Owned Industry is facing the challenge of getting work permits for their key staff. Work permits applications are rejected arbitrarly and there is no neutral panel to listen to our genuine concerns.
Indians came to Uganda, more than 10 decades ago, when nobody else was willing to come, to this part of the world. We have participated, in the development of Uganda & Africa since the beginning
This small population of 10,000-12,000 people who grew over a period of last 100 years have created millions of jobs in Uganda
We have established, business in the deep down villages, of Uganda, and this is helping the indigenous community, to get the access of those products, which were otherwise, unable to reach them at affordable prices. This has greatly helped Uganda in its, wealth distribution & capacity building exercise.
Now Immigration Department is rejecting the Work Permits of these investors is the name of Petty Traders.
It also needs to be noted that hardly there isn’t any Indian Trader in the Kikubo Market, which is the trading hub of Uganda. Rather our business people are in deep down villages
The problem of rejection of work permits in the last few months has started affecting even big business houses which was never a case earlier.
Most of the business owners /investors present here today have been affected/ or are fearing this problem relating to Immigration.
Your Excellency sir, the Indian Business community needs your help & intervention.
The other current burning issue, is with regard to, de-licensing of Traders, in the name of Petty traders with no clarity or /policy on paper, therefore, creating barrier in your vision.
In this regards, we strongly urge, that traders, who have been given licenses, earlier by the regulatory body, need not be canceled, rather any new license, may not be issued, until all new guidelines are adhered to
Change of policy retrospectively/ or cancelling of the licenses, already granted, is not a healthy sign. These so called traders, have come to Uganda, and have worked hard in this country, for all these years. They have closed all their businesses, in the county from where, they have come. Now with such a move we will make them, stranded
Mr. President Sir, As the leader of Indian Association once again I request for a meeting with you, with few representatives, as per your convenient time, as soon as possible, so that we can present, & detail these issues in a more appropriate manner
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 if the government supports us, we will join hands to fulfill & support, your vision.
For example Mr. President Sir, Uganda has quality English speaking youth and thus is a very Ideal destination for BPO & IT activities.I would even say, it is a better destination than India
In this BPO & IT sector, we Indians, with a success story in India, can play a major role & can work towards, revolutionizing the Ugandan economy.
Even E-governance, in Uganda needs to be put on the fast track.
Uganda needs, a world class hospital & some good universities, so that an indigenous Ugandan, has no need to go outside .Our business community, can play a role here, in channelizing & achieving these goals
Your Excellency Sir, the festival of Diwali, carries innumerable lessons, for all of us. So this time, as we light the sacred lamp, lets be aware of, how this lamp, symbolizes the triumph of: Enlightment over blind faith, prosperity over poverty ,knowledge over ignorance , good health and well being over disease and ill health , freedom over bondage
Also as we light the lamp, and pray to the Goddess Laxmi, we need to remember, that, from our position, of well being and prosperity, that there are many who are less fortunate, and deprived, and that we will have to work together, to formulate ways of helping, to respond to the grinding poverty and desperation, in some areas of the country. The Indian Community has always supported the cause to develop this country which we call our home and we will continue to do so.
This year; we should also celebrate, Not just Diwali, but also celebrate the incredible success of multi-racial, multi-cultural Uganda, that is made up of people who have come from all corners of the world, who have all sorts of different faiths, religions and ethnicities.
Mr. President Sir , for the Festival of Lights, please accept our best wishes, for a happy Diwali, for health, and for good fortune, For Uganda may light shine upon all the development plans throughout the coming year.
I wish everyone a very happy Diwali. Nutan Varsh Abhinandan.