Talking to our readers the Ambassador spoke about perspectives of trade between Ukraine and India and export of Indian medicine in Ukraine and complained about difficulties Indian people face applying for Ukrainian visa.
Here is the text of the conference:
Tanya: Should Ukraine join the EU?
- It is Ukraine's right to determine its priorities and we wish you success on this way.
Ivan: What are the main directions for trade between India and Ukraine?
- For the latest 3-4 years the growth of bilateral trade has speeded up. Last year the growth made 50% and bilateral turnover made three billion dollars. In particular, Ukraine's export in India made $2.5 billion, and India's export in Ukraine - USD 500 million. The main spheres are medicine, fertilizers, defense sector, tourism, agriculture and others.
Tey: Do you socialize with Ukrainian politicians?
- I socialize professionally with many Ukrainian politicians, and I was surprised to learn how much they know about India and how strong they want to improve cooperation between our countries. I also was a member of the delegation during President Yanukovych's visit to India.
Anastasia Petrovna: It is a known fact that a big part of imported medicines is of Indian production. Our government has imposed certain restrictions on realization of foreign drugs. Do you think it may cause a deficit of medicines, including Indian ones? Can it affect Indian pharmaceutical industry?
- We hope there will be no deficit of Indian medicines on Ukrainian market. During the visit of Ukraine's President to India, the Ukrainian side estimated and appreciated the contribution of Indian pharmaceutical industry in the healthcare sector of Ukraine. Our drugs top the rating on price and quality.
India and Ukraine have agreed to promote export of Indian drugs in Ukraine. Indian medicines top the list on the amount of supplies. Annually Ukraine purchases medicines at the sum of 325 million dollars.
I am happy to report that the talks between Indian association of pharmaceutical companies (IPMA) and the Ukrainian authorities continue. Moreover, in several months India will hold a meeting of the joint group on pharmaceutical issues.
Drugs of Indian production are 30-40% cheaper than of close rivals. India is a large producer of medicine and supplies drugs at the sum of 10 billion dollars around the globe, including the US and EU.
I count on the growth of pharmaceutical industry, which authorities of both countries have been talking about.
Nata: Goa and other parts of India are very popular among Ukrainian tourists. When will visa regime be canceled for Ukrainians and what should we do for his?
- Visa free regime is important question for both sides. The number of Ukrainian tourists has increased from 9 thousand to 24 thousand people for four years. In the majority of cases we issue the visa the next day after the applying, and list of required documents is simple and short. The number of charter flights from Ukraine has also increased, thus we have made the travel to India affordable for Ukrainians.
On the other hand, the visa procedure for Indian citizens is more complicated. This question was discussed during President Yanukovych's official visit in December of 2012. We hope that we can find mutually beneficial solution for citizens of both countries to travel easily.
Natalia: Mr. Ambassador, was it difficult for you to adapt in Ukraine? What surprised you most when you first came here?
- Ukraine is a wonderful country with nice people, who are friendly towards India. That's why it was easy for me and my family to adapt fast here. I visited Kyiv for the first time in 1993, when Indian President came on official visit after the opening of Indian embassy in Kyiv.
I've noticed that Ukraine demonstrates quite an interest to Indian culture. You have more than 30 groups studying Indian culture, including folk and classic Indian dances and yoga. Me and my family enjoy living here.
There are more than four thousand Indian students studying in Ukraine, and more than one thousand of Indian citizens permanently live here.
Roman: I work at a metallurgical complex. In soviet times, the cooperation between the Soviet Union and India was strong. My father once went to India to build a plant in Bhilai. Do our countries have a perspective to restore similar cooperation?
- I want to thank your father for the contribution into the development of iron and steel industry of India. We appreciate the help, rendered by other people. I invite you and your father to visit the embassy. Please bring old photos from India if there are any.
Now India modernizes the transport infrastructure and ports. It requires one trillion dollars within the next five years. Energy infrastructure of India is also developing. We plan for construction of numerous gas pipelines. It will give an opportunity for Ukrainian specialists to take part in the development of heavy industry of our country. The Ukrainian companies also participated in the construction of train tunnel through the mountains to connect Srinagar, capital of Jammu and Kashmir region, with the rest of India.
Soviet: Relations between USSR and India used to be very friendly, but the time has passed since then. What country is of priority regarding the relations for India now? How are the relations with Russia, Ukraine?
- We live in the multipolar world, and since India's independence, we value our sovereignty. For this, we established Non-Aligned Movement - we respect all countries despite their relations with other states. We have good relations almost with countries of the world, which is proved by mutual visits and India's memberships in various world organizations, including BRICS, IBSA, G20 and others.
With Ukraine and Russia we have diversified cooperation in such spheres as economy, trade, nuclear and space technologies, agriculture, culture and others.
Clever: India is the second most populous country after China. China authorities control birth rate with financial benefits for families. Does India control population size?
- India has taken certain measures to adjust the population size. In particular, we improve healthcare sphere, literacy of the population. We focus on women's health and education. The birth rate has been decreasing lately.
Monk: Mr. Ambassador, what relations does India have with China for Dalai Lama has found refuge in your country?
- Relations between India and China develop very well. We regularly hold meetings at high political level and discuss disputable points, including common borders.
Trade turnover between China and India makes 75.6 billion dollars. Indian companies work in China, and Chinese companies work in India. In the 21st century, the relations between two countries will have a profound effect on the world economy and security. India believes both countries have numerous possibilities for cooperation.
Andriy: Even at the worst moments of global economic crisis, India's economy kept developing and growing. How?
- The main reason is internal demand. The biggest part of country's consumption is domestic consumption. India does not depend on export growth. Moreover, the rate of young population is growing. Average age of India's population is 25 years, which means there are 600 million young people living in India. And Indian young people consume as any other young people in the world.
Driver: India produces the cheapest cars in the world - "Tata". Can these cars appear on Ukrainian market?
- Indeed, "Tata" is the cheapest car. It has been developed for domestic use, but we believe it has export potential. Export model will be called "Nano".
"Tata Motors" also export in Ukraine engines for buses "Bogdan".
Lana: Mr. Ambassador, for several years you worked as State Secretary in countries of Persian Gulf region. How do you estimate current situation in this region? What is your opinion on the events in Egypt, Syria and other Arab countries?
- It is a very important region for our country, as it is a part of extended neighborhood of India. We have a hundred-year history of relations with it. About six million Indians live and work there now. Annually they send 30-45 billion dollars in India. Moreover, India depends on supplies of 60% of oil from this region. Trade turnover between India and Persian Gulf countries makes 1.23 billion dollars annually. That's why we monitor the situation closely and hope for early resolution of conflicts.
Mykhailo: How do you estimate the chances of BRICS union?
- BRICS was founded several years ago, and it is one those organizations which represent multipolar world. The countries meet and discuss common issues, including finances, climate change, terrorism. This union has big perspectives of development, because it is represented by countries from different continents.
Pavli: India is a country with several religions, traditions and even languages. However, India preserves its integrity as a state. What is the secret?
- There is no secret. For many centuries we keep the tradition of tolerance and pluralism. Almost all world religions co-exist in India for ages. Christianity, for example, came to India in the year 50 AD. Islam came after hundred years since its foundation. Buddhism was spread over Asia starting from India. Our country is one of few where Jews have never been persecuted. India prospers thanks to its variety.
During the Constitution adoption, these factors were included in the Basic Law, and India became a pluralistic democracy. Today, India is the biggest democratic country.
Marusya: Some days ago there were terrorist attacks in India with numerous casualties. How safe is India? How often do such accidents happen? What measures do you take to fight terrorism? Thank you.
- In the past India used to be an easy target for terrorist attacks. The government of the country has taken a number of measures, which enables to reduce the number of attacks, however, no country is 100% safe. Many attacks are the consequences of the problems at the border.
We cooperate with many countries, including Ukraine, on collective fights against terrorism. India also proposed UN to adopt a convention of fighting terrorism, which was supported by your country as well.
WWW: Do you like Kyiv as a city?
- Kyiv is very beautiful city with rich historical and modern architecture. Moreover, it is very green cities with many parks and beautiful river Dnipro. Kyiv is varied in architecture and landscape, but very easy and space effective. I am lucky to live in the center of this city.
Mykola: Why did Indian movies stop arriving in Ukraine after the collapse of USSR?
- Indian movies are exported all over the world. It more depends on the Ukrainian side. Indian cinema industry is varied. Many Ukrainian actors star in Indian movies, and it could be a reason of popularity of Indian movies in Ukraine.
Ira: Mr. Ambassador, is it common for India to have pets? What animals do Indians keep as pets? I've heard that Indian people may keep even cobras at home?
- I have an American spitz, which we brought from India. But in general, Indians keep the same pets as Ukrainians do.
Nina Nikolayevna: Is your wife jealous of you when you are around Ukrainian women?
- Indeed, Ukrainian women are very beautiful, for this they are often invited to play in Indian movies. But I can assure you that my wife is a very beautiful woman, and she likes when beauty gets appreciated.
Rajiv Kumar Chander
- I enjoyed answering your questions, which prove Ukrainian people have knowledge about India. I thank ForUm's readers for the interest you show and ForUm's team for a welcoming reception. Wish you all success to your efforts.
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