India-Portugal relations are anchored in over half-a-millennium of history. It’s a relationship of culture, language, deep kinship, art, architecture, gastronomy, music – sublime, intangible things that connect peoples’ hearts and minds irrevocably. The Prime Minister of Portugal H.E. Antonio Costa, (Overseas Citizen of India), epitomizes this profound connection in many ways. The diplomatic ties established between democratic India and Portugal 44 years ago, are forging a forward looking relationship of friendship, respect and mutual benefit between the two, while also seeking to shape a better world that reflects our shared values – peaceful coexistence, respect for pluralism, individual liberties, democracy and a better life for all. Recent visits, bilaterals and stronger relations: Visits exchanged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Antonio Costa in 2017 resulted in over 20 agreements/outcomes in key sectors: defence, space, science and technology, renewable energy, oceans, IT, agriculture, start-ups, education, culture, youth, sports. They are helping build a robust partnership that enriches peoples’ lives. For instance, in the area of economy where bilateral trade has steadily risen to reach almost $1 billion p.a. Aguas de Portugal is collaborating in a water treatment project in Goa; a Portuguese company is installing biometric facial recognition systems at Bengaluru Airport to make paperless air travel a reality; both governments are collaborating to improve citizen-friendly e-governance processes. In Science and Technology, a new €4 million joint fund for collaborative partnerships is being launched in addition to 15 ongoing joint research projects; the first-ever MOU in Defence is facilitating closer trade and cooperation; the India-Portugal Startup partnership is helping Indian start-ups incubate in Portugal while initiatives like the Heritage Network are bringing together Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Portuguese/European counterparts. The launch of the first Youth Exchange Programme between India and Europe started with Portugal is bringing our youth closer. Academic partnerships have strengthened with growing institutional linkages; initiatives like the Indian Ocean and Hindi Conferences and the first Hindi-Portuguese dictionary. Culturally, the Portuguese people’s keen interest in Yoga, spirituality and meditation translates into the enthused participation of around 2000 Portuguese people in the annual International Day of Yoga celebrations and nearly 100 yoga training centres across Portugal. In fact, two Portuguese citizens are currently pursuing an Ayurveda degree in India on Indian government scholarships and a Portuguese Member of Parliament participated in the Kumbh Mela! At PM Modi’s invitation, PM Costa joined the Committee organizing the two-year Gandhi@150 celebrations worldwide, and on 2nd October, the iconic Praca do Comercio in Lisbon displayed Gandhiji’s messages along with a beautiful rendition of his favourite bhajan by renowned flautist Rao Kyao.
Our Diaspora: Our 70,000-strong Indian diaspora in Portugal is a living bridge that deserves celebration. From their enthusiastic participation in the first-ever ‘Festival of India’ on India’s Independence Day, which attracted 7000+ visitors through to the 13 Indian-origin Portuguese who have visited India under the Know India Programme and Know Goa Programme – each of them is a vital link. Our growing and vibrant Punjabi community celebrated the ‘Punjab Divas’ in Lisbon along with Baisakhi festivities and is gearing up for the upcoming 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanakji. The filming of big-banner Bollywood movies as well as incipient linkages in sports, is bringing the people of both countries even closer. I would like to thank The Global Indian series for selecting Portugal as part of this important journey of Indian global discovery and providing a platform to validate these meaningful relations. I welcome you to this feature-an exciting celebration of human interest stories and a portal to meaningful opportunities.
I would like to thank The Global Indian series for selecting Portugal as part of this important journey of Indian global discovery and providing a platform to validate these meaningful relations. I welcome you to this feature-an exciting celebration of human interest stories and a portal to meaningful opportunities