MONROVIA (LINA) – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has received the Letters of Credence of the Ambassador of India to Liberia, Dinesh Bhatia.
Speaking during the ceremony held Thursday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Liberian leader recalled the long-standing friendly ties between the two countries that have fostered closer cooperation in the areas of trade investment and human capacity development.
She also reflected on her State Visit to India in August 2013, where she received India’s prestigious Award, the Indira Ghandi Prize for International Peace and toured a number of important health and industrial facilities as well as delivering the Babu Jagjivan Ram Memorial Lecture, and laid a wreath at the Mathama Gandhi Memorial.
“These very close interactions with a cross-section of the Indian society afforded me the opportunity not only to learn about your country and present Liberia’s case, but also, and perhaps more importantly, to explore further avenues for private sector cooperation between our two nations,” President Sirleaf told the new Indian envoy.
She expressed pleasure that at the end of that visit, the two Governments signed an agreement for US$144 million India line of credit primarily for the development of the power sector in Liberia.
She said this line credit is expected to significantly and positively impact access to affordable energy in Liberia, and help fuel economic development, according to an Executive Mansion release.
President Sirleaf also highlighted the bilateral agreements and MOUs the two countries signed, noting that much progress has been made since then.
She stressed that the two countries have over the years forged excellent cooperation in the areas ofagriculture, education, health, and transportation; all geared towards enhancing and accelerating Liberia’s recovery process.
In the area of peace and security, she emphasized that the Indian Government has and continues to maintain a sizable number of Indian military personnel serving in the U.N. Mission in Liberia, adding that the all-female Indian Contingent is a model which has been essential in its contribution to consolidating Liberia’s peace for the last ten years.
President Sirleaf recounted the Indian Government’s donation of a fleet of TATA buses together with spare parts in 2011 intended to help alleviate the transportation challenges faced by residents in and around Monrovia; its offer to set up a Farm Science Center, as well as the Barefoot Vocational Training Center geared towards improving Liberia’s agricultural sector.
“I am glad that you have again highlighted India’s pledge to establish an Information Technology (IT) Center in Liberia and to continue your assistance to our human capacity development through scholarships and short-term training under the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programs,” the Liberian leader reiterated.
She stressed that as Liberia works to further consolidate the democratic and economic gains achieved over the last decade, the country shall continue to forge meaningful partnership with friendly nations and international organizations to attain rapid economic growth and achieve a middle income status by 2030.
Speaking earlier, the new Indian Ambassador,.Dinesh Bhatia, expressed his country’s willingness to support the Government’s long-term development agenda, Vision 2030 or Lift Liberia.
“I would like to assure Your Excellency that the Government of India is willing to support Liberia’s development initiatives and its readiness to encourage more Indian investors to invest in Liberia, particularly in crucial sectors such as agriculture, rural development, microfinance, infrastructure, energy, and oil and gas sectors.
“India is also willing to cooperate with Liberia in the technical fields of health and education,: he added.
The new Indian Envoy stressed that his Government is committed to contributing to the capacity building of Liberia.
During the academic year 2013/2014, about 43 Liberian students studied in India under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Program (ITEC).
Already the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has approved eight slots for graduate and post-graduate studies for the year 2014/2015.
Liberia recently received 14 scholarships on Agricultural Extension Management under the Joint India and United States Initiative to extend global food security.
India being the largest democracy in the world, recently underwent a mammoth peaceful and successful General Election which brought in a new Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Ambassador Bhatia offered training opportunities for the National Elections Commission with the Elections Commission of India.
He expressed satisfaction that the bilateral relations between the two countries have deepened and are growing as evidenced by the exchange of high level visits to each other’s country, including President Sirleaf’s State Visit to India last year.
On Liberia’s celebration of 10 years of uninterrupted peace, the new Indian Ambassador attributed this to the Liberian leader’s “sound governance policies of social inclusiveness, opening up the democratic space, visionary leadership as well as the resilience of the Liberians themselves”.
Appointed on April 12, 2014, Bhatia replaces Ambassador Anil K. Sharan.
He’s concurrently accredited to the Republics of Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire and resides in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Prior to his recent appointed, Ambassador Bhatia served as Joint Secretary (Multilateral Economic Relations), Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi; before then, he served as Director of Training at the National Defense College.
The new Indian Ambassador earlier served as Director and Deputy Chief of Protocol, Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi; and Counselor, Charges d’Affaires at the Indian Embassy in Kuwait.
He speaks English, Hindi, Spanish and Punjabi.
He is married to Mrs. Seema Bhatia, Clinical Psychologist and Hypnotherapist, and blessed with a daughter (Barhayita) and a son (Deevyanshu).