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Ram Nath Kovind addresses Indian Diaspora in South Africa

President Ram nath Kovind addressing the Indian community in South Africa

Cape Town, April 04 (UITV): President Ram Nath Kovind who made a transit halt in Cape Town on Tuesday afternoon addressed the Indian community here.

Addressing the gathering here, President Kovind noted that it was a privilege for him to visit Cape Town this year to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

"As we pay tribute to the Mahatma and his ideas of peace and non-violence on this occasion, it is natural to be reminded of the role South Africa played in his journey from Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to Mahatma Gandhi," he said.

The President arrived in Cape Town on a transit halt after a three-nation tour of Croatia, Bolivia and Chile.

President Ram Nath kovind with Indian Community during a reception

"The 21 years he spent in South Africa from 1893 till 1940 turned him into a true stalwart of freedom and justice. In the honour of his 150th birth anniversary, we have begun the celebrations in the world over. And I take this opportunity as a part of the celebrations of Gandhi's birth anniversary," Kovind added.

The President added that there were many similarities between India and South Africa before each country got its independence.

"That was the struggle and cruelty that our people were facing from the rulers. It was Gandhi who got the idea that if South Africa is facing such a problem then it may also happen in India. Rather we can also say that a little bit of credit of India's freedom goes to South Africa as well," Kovind said.

India stood along with the people of South Africa in their trials and tribulations during the apartheid regime. India tried to join when Nelson Mandela visited India in 1990 after his release from Robin Island, the President said.

Ram Nath kovind in Robben island paying homage to Nelson Mandela

"We are honoured to confer Mandela with the Bharat Ratna Award -- India's highest national honour -- the same year," he added.

President Kovind also stated that he will have the opportunity to pay his tribute to Mandela at the Robin Island on Wednesday.

"South Africa is home to one of the largest Indian diaspora and we take great pride in their success and accomplishments. Most of you belong to the communities and families that arrived in this beautiful country several generations ago and opted to settle here. Many of you recently came here as professionals, entrepreneurs and businessmen. Despite the distance and passage of time, South Africans of Indian origin have kept India close to their hearts," the President added.

The visit of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to India as chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations in January 2019 opened another chapter in our bilateral relations, Kovind said.

"Our economic engagements are one of the key ingredients of this vibrant partnership. Indian companies in South Africa are adding values by opening new avenues of growth in this country. South African companies are also partnering in India's growth and collaborating in our flagship initiatives like Made In India, Digital India, Clean India and Smart City programmes," the President noted.

The Indian government is committed in strengthening its ties with the Indian community settled abroad.

"I would urge you to benefit out of the schemes and plans that we have put in place. We have made our Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) schemes simply for more people to benefit. We are also reaching out to those who are in distress and needy. In the last four years, we have rescued over 90,000 people caught in violence, strife and natural disasters overseas," he added.

"May our two nations continue to chart new paths and forge new ties to unleash the creative energies in ensuring peace and prosperity not just for ourselves but for the entire humanity ably guided by the Mahatma and Madiba," Kovind said.

President Kovind was on a three-nation tour to Croatia, Bolivia and Chile from March 25th to April 2nd.