Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs, Foreign Secretary, Ambassador of Bhutan, Dean of the Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service, Graduating Officer-trainees of the IFS 2019 batch, Faculty members of the FSI and distinguished guests.
Today is an exciting moment for the 2019 batch. It marks the successful completion of their training. The year 2020 has been a challenging one. Our efforts to cope with the pandemic have affected every aspect of our lives. It has also transformed training methods and modules as we learn to live in a virtual world. A new World Order is emerging with many challenges for diplomats. I am sure you all will keep India’s flag flying high under all circumstances. This includes actively addressing and countering false narratives about India. That is what we endeavoured to do. That is what we expect from all of you!
In 1976, when we joined Service, we had no Foreign Service Institute. The FSI under EAM’s guidance and a charismatic Dean and devoted faculty members is now acknowledged globally as a premier training institute. All of you have greatly benefitted from this training.
The Association of Indian Diplomats is a gathering of former Ambassadors and High Commissioners of India and those who have held senior posts in international organizations at the level of Under Secretary General and above. Formed in 1980, we have 275 regular members and 32 guest members. Today AID is an important think-tank with an enormous reservoir of experience and knowledge which is available when required. AID has participated in many task forces, contributing analyses and policy options for the Government. Members of the Association have given great support to the ‘Distinguished Lecture Series’ of the Ministry, covering outlying institutions and Universities in India. In doing so, it has provided a much required link between practitioners of foreign policy and academia and the general public.
Our main outreach in Public Diplomacy activity, supported by the Ministry, is our flag ship publication, The Indian Foreign Affairs Journal, now in its 15th year, which has become an invaluable addition to the reservoir of authentic international relations publications on India. The oral history section is an unique compilation of diplomatic narratives by iconic figures in our Foreign Service who left their mark and made India proud in the many challenges faced during India’s journey to great power status.
We have also supported the FSI training of officer trainees. It is a privilege to render some support to our beloved Service which continues to be such an important part of our lives today
Today we would be awarding two prizes, one augmenting the Medal to be presented by the Hon’ble Minister for the Best Officer Trainee, Ms. Smriti Mishra and a prize for the Best Dissertation to Ms Rangashree. On behalf of AID may I congratulate both the officer trainees?
These awards have been made possible by a corpus established by the family of the late Ambassador Bimal Sanyal and which is administered by our Association. Out of this Corpus, initially medals used to be awarded to the best essay in a contest open to all IFS officers. Starting 2011, as the medal for the best officer-trainee is being awarded by MEA, we decided to augment this award with an ‘Ambassador Sanyal Memorial Prize’ and ‘Ambassador Sanyal Memorial Medal’.
I was privileged to be associated since my childhood with Ambassador Sanyal. His only child Usha Sanyal is a very close friend. Ambassador Bimal Sanyal was a visionary and a pioneer who saw economic diplomacy as a growing aspect of and a future tool in conduct of foreign relations – before it became a fashionable term. He established the separate economic wing in the Ministry that has today blossomed into an important part of Ministry’s functioning.
Ambassador Sanyal served with distinction from 1948 to 1976, having earlier served in the Royal Navy. Fondly remembered by all his colleagues till today, he was above all a true patriot who passionately believed that our diplomats must also focus on economic, commercial and trade diplomacy. He was the first Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs exclusively entrusted with ‘Economic Relations’ as a tool of diplomacy – that has since become a ‘mantra’ for modern day diplomacy. After superannuation, he served as the first Secretary General of the Association of Iron Ore Exporting Countries, based in Geneva.
Now is the moment when you will set out to make your destiny. In doing so remember what Swami Vivekananda said in 1893 at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago.
“They alone live, who live for others.
We reap what we sow; we are the makers of our own fate.
The wind is blowing; those whose sails are unfurled catch it and go forward on their way,
But those who have their sails furled do not catch the wind.
Is that the fault of the wind?
We make our own destiny.”
Go and make your destiny in the service of our great Motherland. India deserves no less from you.
Ambassador Bhaswati Mukherjee
President AID, 24th July 2020