Durban: The struggle for freedom of the
Indian and South African people is intertwined and has a
common denominator as both countries were home to Mahatma
Gandhi, President Jacob Zuma has said.
"Gandhi walks through our histories leaving imprints
that still direct the paths of both India and South Africa,"
Zuma said at the closing banquet of the first regional Pravasi
Bharatiya Divas on African soil here last night.
Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and
Minister of State for Human Resources Development D
Purandeshwari were also present at the banquet.
"Gandhi`s philosophies remain relevant today as they
were during their formulation and practise in his lifetime. It
is these beliefs that have ensured the continuity of our
relations over the years and led to the strengthening of
political, economic and social ties between our two nations,"
Gandhi`s ideology of empathy, respect for one another
irrespective of race, appreciation of one another and each
other`s beliefs and understanding have been the foundation of
the constitutions of most countries, he added.
Zuma attributed the "warm relationship" with India to
the fact that the two countries have a lot in common, such as
the vision of an impartial, just, peaceful and prosperous
world order aimed at bringing an end to centuries of poverty
"Together the two countries cooperate in several
multi-lateral forums such as the UN, the non-aligned movement,
WTO, G-20, Commonwealth, IBSA and the BASIC groupings. We also
share a common approach on a number of global issues including
reform of the UN, the future of multilateralism, climate
change, South-South cooperation and multilateral trade
negotiations," the South African President said.
"This has led to fruitful cooperation in the
Commonwealth, International Atomic Energy Agency and the New
Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NASP)."
Commending the South African community of Indian
origin, Zuma said, their deep commitment to cultural identity
was evident in all spheres of their lives from their beliefs
to their practises.
"This is greatly admirable, at a time when cultures
and traditions worldwide have been undermined. We are pleased
that while this community remains distinctively Indian, they
are still proudly South African. They are as committed to this
country as those whose cultural roots are indigenous," he said
Addressing the gathering, Ravi called on India and
South Africa to work together and said "India and South Africa
hold the promise of becoming giants in future."
Lauding the first Indians who arrived as indentured
labourers for the sugar cane plantations in the province in
1860, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini said "their determination
to succeed in the face of great hardship should serve as an
inspiration to all of us."