Hon’ble President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh His Excellency Mr. Md. Abdul Hamid, our most respected Chief Guest for this evening,
Distinguished Advisers, Secretaries and senior officers of the Government of Bangladesh,
Distinguished ITEC, ICCR and Muktijoddha scholars and representatives of Youth Delegations to India,
Dear friends from Bangladesh.
I am delighted to extend a most cordial and heartfelt welcome to all of you at this special and historic event.
Today we meet to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of India’s flagship international development cooperation programme, the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme, or the ITEC Programme.
We are deeply honoured to have the Hon’ble President of Bangladesh as our Chief Guest. Your Excellency, on behalf of the Government of India and on behalf of all ITEC scholars from Bangladesh I thank you for sparing time from your busy schedule to grace us by your presence. Your presence is a source of great inspiration for us and a manifestation of the importance that Bangladesh attaches to its relations with India.
More than that, your presence today has given the ITEC Programme a global profile, and is a powerful message to ITEC scholars all across the world from one of India’s most important development partners. Today we have shown not just by word but also deed the true menaing of South-South cooperation.
India and Bangladesh are two developing countries. We both have a large population of youth. We both wish to transform our economies and societies, and we want to put people at the heart of our development strategy. We want to learn from each other and exchange experiences and our successes.
As close neighbours with civilisational ties of history, culture, language and custom, we have a special responsibility to be equal partners and friends in all walks of life.
The ITEC Programme was instituted in 1964, fifty years ago. It has grown steadily since then and is today conducted in over 160 countries. Over 10,000 scholarships slots covering 47 training institutions and 280 courses were offered last year worldwide.
In Bangladesh, record shows that the first ITEC experts came to Bangladesh from India in 1974-1975 to conduct feasibility surveys on cement, fertilizers and sponge iron plants. Many personnel were trained in India. More recently, almost 800 ITEC scholars have received training in India since 2007. The number of ITEC scholarships has been doubled from 100 every year in 2007 to 215 in 2014. Last year a record 185 scholars went to India. In addition, about 200 scholars under the Technical Cooperation Scheme of the Colombo Plan have gone for training since 2007.
Scholars from Bangladesh have gone from government Ministries such as Agriculture, Public Administration, Finance, Education, Tourism, ICT, Defence as well as civil service officers. Scholars have also gone from non-government bodies such as Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Universities, private companies and Institute of Diploma Engineers. The more popular areas of study have been Advanced Computing, Information Technology, English language, Micro and Small Industries, Teachers training, Labour Studies and textile research.
Today we also have in our midst three other categories of Bangladeshi students. The first are students who have studied in India under the ICCR Scholarship Scheme, which is available in 135 countries. In Bangladesh, the number of scholarships available every year is 206, for undergraduate, post graduate and doctoral programmes in courses such as engineering, pharmacy, accountancy, business administration and management. The number of ICCR scholars from Bangladesh stands at over 630. This year, around 180 students have already proceeded for various courses in India.
The second category is the Muktijoddha scholars. The Muktijoddha scholarships were introduced in 2008 for meritorious Bangladeshi students to assist them in their studies in schools and colleges in Bangladesh. So far about 5500 scholarships have been given at the Higher Secondary level and about 2800 at the undergraduate level.
The third category are representatives of the three 100 member Youth Delegations who have visited India since 2012 as guests of the Government of India. These are young men and women drawn from different Universities such as Dhaka, BUET, BRAC, Independent, BSMMU, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Kumidini, apart from representatives from media, culture and business.
These are concrete examples that show how training, skill development, capacity building and sharing of experiences form the core of our development partnership philosophy. Our development cooperation is aimed to build local capacity and make cooperation a two way street.
In the case of Bangladesh we would like to build upon this further. We are also happy to see that there are many Indian students who are studying in Bangladesh, especially in the field of medicine.
Your Excellency and dear friends,
India deeply values its relations with Bangladesh and lauds the progress made by the people of Bangladesh in several walks of life, especially under the leadership of Her Excellency Prime Minister Sheiklh Hasina.
India wishes to see a stable, peaceful and prosperous Bangladesh. We will not allow our territory to be used for any activities that are harmful to the welfare of Bangladesh. We value our cooperation and tradition of regular consultations on issues which affect our mutual wellbeing and security.
Before I conclude I would like to thank the Government of Bangladesh, and especially the ERD Division of the Finance Ministry which coordinates the nominations for the ITEC Programme for their cooperation and support without which this programme would not have been successful.
I once again thank Your Excellency for accepting our invitation to this Golden Jubilee celebration. I thank the participants for joining us this evening and wish them all success in their future endeavours.
Long live India-Bangladesh friendship.