Welcome Remarks by Dr. Arvind Gupta, Director VIF during the Talk on India-Mongolia Relations by Mongolian Amb Gonchig Ganbold at the VIF on 26 Jun 2019
Dear Friends,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Ambassador H.E. Mr. Gonchig Ganbold to the VIF for a talk on India-Mongolia relations. Amb Ganbold is a graduate of the Mongolian State University and the State Institute of International Relations Moscow. He completed his Foreign Service programme at the University College in Oxford and has also studied as the Institute of Advance Studies on International Relations at Geneva as well as the Asia Pacific Security Study Centre Huawei. As the Foreign Service officer, he has served both at headquarters and Mongolian missions abroad since 1980. He has also done a stint at the National Security Council of Mongolia during 2003-2004. He has been serving in New Delhi as the Ambassador last about four years. He is a prolific writer. He speaks fluent Hindi.

Dear friends, India attaches great importance to its relations with Mongolia. During 1957 and 2001, several high-level visits took place from India to Mongolia starting from Vice President Dr. Radhakrishan’s visit in 1957. Prime Minister Modi visited Mongolia in 2015. This was the first Prime Ministerial visit from India. Since then former Lok Sabha speaker Mr. Mahajan and the former Vice President Hamid Ansari visited Mongolia in 2015. Former President Smt Pratibha Devi Singh Patil had visited Mongolia in 2011 and Smt Meera Kumar, the former Lok Sabha speaker, visited Mongolia in 2010. During his visit, PM Modi had announced a credit line of US$ 1 billion for the infrastructure sector in Mongolia. This is currently being used to build an oil refinery in Mongolia.

Several high-level visits at presidential and prime ministerial level have taken place from Mongolia to India from 1973 onwards. Former Mongolian President Elbegdorj had visited India in 2009. We are expecting a high-level visit from Mongolia later this year.

India- Mongolia relations are in an upswing. The two countries have a joint working group for defence cooperation which meets annually. The two sides hold an annual joint military exercise called ‘Nomadic Elephant’. In recent years, the Indian BSF and the Mongolian Authority for Border Protection have also been collaborating. Although India-Mongolian trade is small (US$ 34 million), the two sides are working to improve the situation. There are many other facets to Indo-Mongolian relations, including hi-tech assistance, cooperation in ICT, and cultural cooperation. Indo-Mongolian cultural cooperation is of special interest.

During a recent visit, I learnt that the Mongolian National Library has nearly 1.8 million manuscripts on Buddhism. A bulk of this vast repository is uncatalogued. A proper study of the manuscripts will undoubtedly throw fresh light on the Buddhists link between India and Mongolia over centuries. It also comes as a surprise to me to learn that nearly 800 Mongolian monks are studying Buddhism and Indian languages in India. They are fluent in Hindi and Sanskrit. This large reservoir of friendly Buddhist scholars will provide the foundation for deepening scholarly and cultural ties between the two countries.

Another little interesting facet about India-Mongolia relations: Mongolia is also the headquarters of the Asian Buddhist Peace Conference (ABCP) which held its 11th General Assembly in Ulan Bator recently. India has been a supporter of ABCP since its inception in 1969. It hosted the 3rd General Assembly in 1974. ABCP is an excellent platform for the exchange of views amongst Buddhist scholars and monks.

As you know, The VIF promotes and supports the Hindu-Buddhist Samvad meeting in which Mongolia also participates. The Samvad platform is yet another opportunity for strengthening the link between India and Mongolia.

The Ambassador would no doubt touch upon the latest development in India-Mongolia relations. We are grateful to him that he found time to visit us.
May I request Ambassador Ganbold to address us.

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