Sabina Higgins Speech at an event celebrating India’s 70th Republic Day
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Monday 28th January 2019
It is a great pleasure to be with you all as Republic Day India is being celebrated in this special setting, Christchurch Cathedral.
May I thank you for your invitation to join with you and your distinguished guests and through Ambassador Kumar, send good wishes to the people of India, and to the Indian community in Ireland who indeed are part of the great Indian diaspora.
Ireland and India share many common experiences and aspects of our history. We both celebrate our being Republics, Republics that almost coincide in our moment of coming into being, 1947 in your case, 1948 in ours. But long before that our histories were deeply intertwined.
We share an experience of colonisation, famine and emigration. We share a struggle for independence and self-determination.
Even as we celebrate the founding of our First Dáil ( Parliament) in 1919 (last Monday) we are aware of what the Indian people in the Amritsar Massacre suffered that year and how it strengthened their resolve to achieve independence. The abuse of imperial power and the cruelty that accompanies it, is a shared experience.
We also enjoy each other’s culture. We can recall the great exchanges between our great national poets, WB Yeats and Rabindrath Tagore. Today it is also seen in the embrace of Yoga by Irish people, something I myself became aware of in Dublin in the 1960s and have practiced, value, and call a gift of Goodness to mankind.
Today we celebrate the landmark day in 1950 when a newly independent India emerged out from under colonial laws and adopted a constitution drafted by and for the Indian People. India as a sovereign and democratic republic was born.
It is interesting to note too, that some of the more socially minded aspects of our own 1937 constitution, the directive principles, inspired the great Dr Ambedkar and were incorporated into the Indian Constitution.
That is the past we share, and today we share the task and responsibility of building and sustaining peace, and achieving societies that are truly equal and inclusive where all can participate and contribute.
We share a fragile planet and the challenges we face are of a global kind. Responding to climate change, building peace and putting an end to the terrible inequalities that are a scar on humanity.
Ireland and India have joined together with most other countries to achieve the objectives of the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals. We are working together to address the eradication of poverty, the ending of violence against women, realising the emancipation of women and the welfare of children and ensuring the future of our planet and wellbeing and prosperity for all.
We both also share the experience of partition, the urgent need for reconciliation, and the importance of advocating for peace.}
I want to thank you once again for your kind invitation to attend this event. Occasions like this are a valuable expression of what we can do and celebrate together.
Happy Republic of India Day.