Bhubaneswar: Hailing Odisha for its rich culture, ancient trade links and growth potential, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said the World Bank has ranked Bhubaneswar as the best place to do business in India.
“The city of Bhubaneswar has a unique distinction of having rich history which goes back to many millennia and at the same time being among modern India’s first planned city,” Swaraj said inaugurating an International Conference, on “India and Indian Ocean: Renewing the Maritime Trade and Civilisational Linkages” here.
She said Bhubaneswar city is home to a large number of ancient temples which stand testimony to millennia old uninterrupted flow of its culture and a number of institutes, or “I may say, temples of higher learning”.
Noting that the World Bank has ranked Bhubaneswar as the best place to do business in India, the foreign minister said the city is an apt location for engaging in deliberations like the international conference she opened today.
The three-day conference is jointly organised by Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) and Institute of Social and Cultural Studies, Kolkata.
Referring to the strong community linkages of the Indian Ocean, Swaraj said our respective cultural practises, values and societal ethos are well defined in our folk songs and writings.
‘Boitha Bandana’ that is the worshipping of the ships is a practise that has been there since Kalinga (Odisha was known as earlier) days, she said adding the ships used to embark on long voyages to Sri Lanka, Bali, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Malaya, Vietnam and also to China.
“While here, if any of you find time please do visit the Sun Temple of Konarak, where you can see a boat containing a giraffe, which shows linkages with Africa”, Swaraj said.
The festival of Baliyatra on Karthik Purnima in November is a continuation of this tradition. With commendable efforts of the State government here, this has emerged as a major connect with our ancient maritime legacy, she said.
Small Krathongs or boats on several streets of Bangkok, sometime in November, remind us of Boitha. Similar cultural practices are evident in Indonesia when Mesakapan Ke Tukad is celebrated all across the different islands, the External Affairs minister said.
India is part of various multilateral institutions, which are actively debating maritime security issues in the Asia Pacific region, Swaraj said, adding that Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, which India founded in 2008, has 35 countries participating in its various activities.
“The effort has gathered momentum and deepened mutual understanding on maritime challenges and has strengthened our collective ability to address them,” she said.
As a founder member of the Contact Group on Piracy, India has been sensitive to the maritime security situation in the Gulf of Aden for shipping lanes in this part of the Indian Ocean, Swaraj said adding India has been working with like-minded countries to preserve the integrity, inviolability and security of maritime domain which is a global commons.
“We are committed to maritime security, freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law,” she said.
The Minister, however, lamented that full potential of intra-regional trade remains untapped because of poor communication and transport links, lack of information about the supply capabilities, among other barriers