President pays homage to Mahatma Gandhi in Geneva

President Pratibha Patil on Sunday paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi in Geneva on the occasion of his 142nd birth anniversary.

Ms. Patil, drove to the tranquil Ariana Park on ‘Avenue of Peace,' and offered flowers at the statue of the Mahatma Gandhi. A group of Indian children sang ‘Ram dhun.' She later undertook a parikarma (round of the statue) in the misty morning.

Incidentally, the statue was unveiled in 1997 to mark the 60th anniversary of the August 1948 Treaty of Friendship and Establishment between India and Switzerland, the first such treaty signed by independent India.

The President is here on an eight-day state visit to Switzerland and Austria.

“Opportunities aplenty”

Later, at a reception hosted here by Indian Ambassador Chitra Narayanan, daughter of the former President, K.R. Narayanan, Ms. Patil said India had become an attractive destination for investments. “India's growth offers many opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation. The Indian economy has recorded consistently high rates of growth since 2003 and even the global economic downturn had [only] a limited impact,” said the President, who is on a state visit to Switzerland.

“Today India is among the most attractive destinations globally for investments and business, and the Foreign Direct Investment has increased over the last few years,” she said.

“Since the Indian economy opened up in 1991, Indian companies have faced international competition rather well, and have expanded their global footprint.”

However, the overriding priority today was to ensure that the benefits of the economic growth reached all sections, in particular the poorer sections.

“We are also aware of the challenges of ensuring that the aspirations of our youth, who constitute more than 50 per cent of our population today, are met; that they have the opportunities to get education and training needed to allow India to garner the demographic dividend,” she said.

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