Elevating to Be Elevated. How India Promotes South-South Cooperation

19-12-2017 05:36:02   | Armenia  |  A comment
By Ashot Gareginyan

Over 1 billion of people live today in India. Each of them has his own destiny, his responsibilities and his duty, which together is called `Dharma`, a term, the essence of which is so hard to understand for Europeans. People that live from Kashmir to Tamilnadu, from Bengal to Rajasthan are quite not similar to each other nor by the issue of ethnicity, nor religion, nor way of life, and nor even by manner of dressing. There are Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, Jains, Parses, Buddhists, many followers of various movements and sects, filling the whole of India. However, there is something in these people, without which none of them would be able to call India their home; something that is beyond personality, and is able to unite millions and millions of different people. This factor is the ability of individuals’ self-consciousness as a whole nation with its ancient and rich culture.  
Despite economic and political difficulties, shaking the world, India has succeeded in keeping internal unity, in overcoming intolerance and even hatred to each other, what we are witnessing today in various parts of the world. Many-sided partnership, developed in the framework of the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC), has been recognized as one of the most effective tools to achieve these goals.  
Although the ITEC Day is not in the list of Indian state and national holidays, however, it is celebrated every year in the period from November to December, both in India and abroad. With some time, Armenia has not been an exception, too. 
A colorful ceremony, including ITEC Day celebration and ITEC presentation, took place recently in Yerevan, by initiative of the Embassy of India in Armenia. 
“ITEC was founded in September, 1964, as a bilateral cooperation programme. Since then, technical and economic cooperation has been was considered to be one of the essential functions of an integrated and imaginative foreign policy. It helps to develop partnership, aimed on mutual benefits, with a big number of developing countries”, mentioned Yogeshwar Sangwan, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of India in RA.  
According to him, already 161 partner countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Caribbean basin, as well as Pacific and Small Island countries are invited to share in the Indian developmental experience acquired over six decades of India's existence as a free nation. The ITEC Programme, fully funded by the Government of India, has evolved and grown over the years. As a result of different activities under this programme, there is now a visible and growing awareness among other countries about the competence of India as a provider of technical know-how and expertise as well as training opportunities, consultancy services and feasibility studies. These programmes have generated immense goodwill and substantive cooperation among the developing countries. At present, more than 12,000 scholarships in different areas are offered annually.
Оver 300 training courses were offered during 2017 in about 70 different institutions, and over 1,500 civilian scholarships are designed to be offered within the framework or ITEC programs for 2017-2018 educational year. ITEC courses cover various spheres, such as public administration, election management, small and medium entrepreneurship, rural development, archaeology, intellectual property management, mid-career training civil service, etc. 
As Yogeshwar Sangwan noted, ITEC courses not just equip involved participants with professional skills, but also prepare them for a rapidly globalizing world. “ITEC is a flagship programme for the capacity building efforts. It is a visible symbol of a weighty contribution to South-South cooperation”, he added. 
“Mr. Ambassador, how long the cooperation with Armenia within in the framework of ITEC is going on?” 
“It has been promoted already fifteen years. During this period, over 280 Armenians were already involved in the ITEC teaching programmes. Every year we now have 25 new scholars from your country on average, both from Yerevan and other regions”.
“So, it could be said that India and Armenia are becoming close partners through ITEC?”
“Yes, sure. We keep feedback with the ITEC Armenian alumni, and we are pleased to note that after return they become specialists in demand, making a worthy contribution to the economic and social development of their motherland” 
“Are there any restrictions for applicants?”
“Only one restriction: they must be from 25 to 45 years old”
“Thank you, India!”
As for the Armenian alumni, they unanimously express their joy for the opportunity to be involved in the ITEC curricula. Thus, Sophie Mosinyan, who was ITEC scholar in 2013, still terribly misses India. “I spent my training in the city of Ahmadabad”, she tells, “and I cannot forget how our teachers were taking care of us every time. Thank for this programme, I got not only knowledge, but also a lot of friends - from Africa, South America, Vietnam”. At present, Sophie works in the Coca Cola Bottlers Armenia Company as a procurement specialist. “What I studied in India, that is experience in statistical data collection, recording, and working with them, helps me a lot in my current work," Sophie says. "And if to speak about personal impressions, it occurred just in India that I have felt myself, not afraid of big words, an inhabitant of the Universe. Particularly, Taj Mahal simply shocked, it is something incredible, really. You can watch this mausoleum complex for hours, and every moment it is changing, like a sea”.  
Vardan Vardanian, employee of the Hayastan All-Armenian Foundation, says that ITEC training program helped him very much – and continues to help – regarding creation of dialogue with state government bodies and local self-government bodies. The key rule is: you should elevate someone to become able elevated yourself. At the same time, it was a good chance to observe the inner life of such a huge country, as India is. “I was in Delhi”, Vardanian tells, “a giant megalopolis, perhaps, like ten Armenias by population, if no more. Whole India is a huge fusion of cultures, languages (hundreds of languages with dialects!), religions, traditions. However, with all domestic differences, people succeed in acting together, building democratic society. Perhaps, this is one of India's biggest lessons for the entire world”.
Well, if such a multinational and multi-religious country is able to strengthen its inner unity and go ahead, why mono-ethnic and mono-religious Armenia permanently faces problems?
As they say, the question is quite not rhetorical…  
ITEC another alumnus, Lilit Simonyan, interpreter and assistant of the India's Ambassador in Yerevan, commends the ability of Indian people of different nationality and confession to communicate easily with each other, to respect each other. "There I first saw Christians or Hindus, who took part, without any formality, in the ceremonies of other religions," Lilit says. "In this ocean of worldviews people are able to preserve the community, to be united in a single country. Truly, it is a priceless experience."
According to Lilit Simonyan, India has a special aura: if you are able to feel it, and India will admit you, then you will come back from there as a completely other person – filled with a powerful energy of good. "I still feel it," she confesses. 
“So, India admitted you?”
“Yes, of course. So much admitted that I’ve got married there!” 
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