For Republic Day, India invites ... South Korea?
For its 61st Republic Day Tuesday, India chose as its foreign honoree the president of South Korea – a nod to his country's role in building badly needed infrastructure and to India’s growing trade within Asia.
(Page 2 of 2)
“India is very good at software, Korea is very good at hardware. Similarly, there are complements between different sectors where trade should be much more, but we haven’t gotten to that level because of trade barriers,” says Professor Sahoo. Now the barriers “have been mostly taken care of by CEPA.”Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
India’s most pressing need, infrastructure, turns out to be a Korean specialty. On the eve of the visit, New Delhi gave the environmental OK to a South Korean firm to build a $12 billion steel plant in the Indian state of Orissa. The project represents the biggest foreign investment in the country.
South Korean companies won nine of the 44 contracts for India’s National Highway Development Project. And the country has manufactured trains for the darling of India’s new infrastructure projects, the Delhi metro.
The Indian Express newspaper interpreted the deepening economic ties as the reason for New Delhi’s invitation to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. India traditionally invites one head of state to help it mark the anniversary of India’s adoption of a constitution and designation as a republic in 1950.
“In an innovation increasingly evident, the government has been weaving strategy with hospitality to decide its chief guest for the Republic Day,” the paper notes. Recent years have targeted countries useful for developing India’s nuclear power, including Kazakhstan, a major uranium producer, and France, a technological leader in nuclear plants.
Time for bigger-name guests?
Comments posted under the article online offer a glimpse into how Indians are increasingly seeing their country outgrowing its neighborhood.
“I am also amazed to see that in the last 20 years we didn’t find it appropriate to invite heads of Japan or Germany or Canada as chief guests,” writes S. Dutta. “Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius could have been accommodated by other means instead of wasting opportunities.”
Another user named “Indian” touted South Korea as an economic role model: “A perfect chief guest for the 60th year of Republic Day. Being transformed from an impoverished country to the world’s fastest-growing major economy for three straight decades …. is something to admire."
[Editor's note: The original version of this article misstated how many Republic Days India has celebrated.]