I joined Latin America and Caribbean Division in sept 2004, at the same time when Senora Shashi Tripathi took over as Secretary ( west). She is leaving the Ministry shortly,after a distinguished career of 36 yrs. I hosted the lunch in her honour at Taj Mahal Hotel Hotel, New Delhi. Ambassadors and Honorary Consuls of the region and CII and FICCI attended the lunch.
Highlights of my speech:
- In the past relations with the region were described by some as " casual flings, occasional flirtations and one-night stands".
- Now the relations have moved to a romantic stage. Even PM Manmohan Singh could not resist the magic of latin America. he said in his press conference in Brasilia, " I am leaving part of my heart behind". Many other delegates also have left their hearts there. My follow-up action is to visit Brazil to bring back those.
-In the past there was a different mind-set. ... jokes
- The ground realities were different in the past. "magical realism" in latin america and "mythical realism" in India.
- But now the realities have changed. Both latin America and India have undergone pardigm shift and have become attractive to each other now.
- In the past two two years, we intensified our engagement with the region like never before. We handled about 40 incoming and outgoing visits at various levels and reached out to countries such as Bolivia, guatemala, Dominican republic and El Salvador.
- Our economic diplomacy in partnership with CII, FICCI and the bz paid off. Our trade reached 6.2 billion dollars in 2005. The largest-ever bz delegation from India went to latin america earlier this month.
- A promising longterm partnership between latin america and India will flourish in the coming years, built on the new paradigms of the two sides and new mindset.
We said, Gracias Senora Tripathi for your leadership and support ! and wished her long healthy and acive life beyond foreign service. And gave her a latino tip... " we dont stop having fun when we grow old... we become old only when we stop having fun!!!"