Indian Ambassador to Croatia Discusses Yoga, EU, Tech and Diplomacy

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, here in Croatia, June the 21st, known as the longest day of the year, will see International Yoga Day marked in more than 30 cities. Here in the country, the marking of this day will be organised by the Embassy of India in Croatia, which continuously highlights the positive effects and traditional systems such as yoga that are effective in boosting immunity.

Participation is free, and in addition to yoga for all age groups, participants will have the opportunity to enjoy a presentation by yoga teachers and experts. Next year, on August the 15th, India celebrates 75 years of independence, but also 30 years of establishing diplomatic relations between Croatia and India.

On that occasion, Nj. E. Raj Kumar Srivastava, the Indian Ambassador to Croatia, talked about the current bilateral relations between Croatia and India, why Indians are interested in Croatia, what the digital ecosystem of India and Croatia is like, but also how yoga enriches Croatia’s tourist offer.

You’ve been living and working in Croatia for more than half a year. What are your impressions?

”Croatia is a beautiful country, full of natural, cultural and ethnic diversity. Although it’s 1/60 the size of India in terms of geographical area, there’s a lot on offer just because of these varieties. Croatia has a very rich and much longer history that gives the Croatian people a sense of pride and self-respect. This is visible when you communicate with people from Croatia.

This country is also building a future towards becoming a fully European country by joining all EU instruments in the years to come. This opens the way for Croatia to further develop towards political, economic and strategic development. As the Ambassador of India to Croatia, I witness opportunities to further strengthen our bilateral relations G2G (government to government), B2B (business-to-business) and P2P (people to people) on a daily basis.”

Next year, Croatia and India will celebrate 30 years of having established diplomatic relations. How would you rate that relationship and collaboration today?

”During these 30 years, both India and Croatia have grown, and our bilateral relations in all spheres have also developed. With the exponential growth expected in India over the next two decades as Croatia becomes a fully European country and joins Schengen and the Eurozone, the future of our bilateral relations will be significantly upgraded.

We need to reduce the information gap that exists about the growing opportunities to improve our engagements for the mutual benefit of our people, and I see here the role of our embassy which is proactive and which sees our role in promoting not only India in Croatia but also Croatia in India.”

It has been stated before that you’re very interested in the IT industry and new technologies. How do you rate the IT sector and the startup scene in Croatia? What is the digital ecosystem of India, and on the other hand, what’s it like in Croatia?

”Technology has played an important role for developing countries that have moved to a higher level of development at exponential rates. For a country the size of India, it’s important to leverage the technology and skills of our human resources to make our demographic challenge a demographic profit. The importance of digital technologies has been further highlighted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in which these technologies have enabled connections between customers and service providers, whether it be in the fields of health, education, business, politics, or even in diplomacy.

Therefore, one of my priorities is to connect the digital ecosystem of India, which is among the best in the world, with the Croatian technological ecosystem in favour of our friends from Croatia, more so than it being other way around. An Indo-Croatian Talent Partnership would be extremely complementary to the demographics of Europe and Croatia.

That’s why we’re developing a skills-based collaboration programme where experienced people from India can help the technological ecosystem in Croatia to grow further. This is being conceived through new initiatives between universities in India and Croatia to connect young talent, thus ensuring future relations between the two countries.”

What is the interest when it comes to travel and tourism of Indians towards Croatia, and vice versa?

”Before the pandemic hit the world in 2020, nearly 70,000 Indian tourists visited Croatia in 2019. That number will definitely be better when travel starts again, hopefully as soon as possible in the coming months.

Similarly, there are many Croatian tourists who would like life-changing experiences in various aspects of thematic tourism that India offers – from wellness to adventure, from wildlife to lavish splendor, from beaches to mountains to innovation and spirituality.

India is very well known among the Croatian people. There are many Croatian companies that have been present on the Indian market for more than ten years now, and the number of such companies will likely only increase in the coming years if joint efforts begin to expand the opportunities available over in India.

Croats also know a lot about Indian culture and tradition, including some Croats who shared their very surreal “déjà vu” experience when they first landed in India – meaning they felt very comfortable and at home despite the differences between the two countries in terms of development and demographics.”

Here in Croatia, as in the res tof the world, June the 21st is marked as International Yoga Day. What’s the level of interest Croats have in yoga and how can it enrich the Croatian tourist offer?

”There are historical ties between the peoples of our two countries and there are newly built relations between the younger generations. Yoga and Ayurveda are two important areas for human well-being, and have also been practiced in Croatia for a long time with the help of many Croatian teachers and experts, especially during these pandemic-dominated times when the qualities of yoga and ayurveda to boost immunity are being recognised worldwide, including by the WHO (World Health Organisation).

International Yoga Day is now being celebrated on June the 21st, the day declared by the United Nations back in 2015, and this year it will be celebrated all over the world, including here in Croatia in more than 30 locations. Yoga brings with it the positive energy of inclusion, it creates harmony between the body and the mind, humanity and nature, and human consciousness with universal consciousness.

Increased popularity and facilities related to yoga in tourist locations in Croatia would definitely increase the wellness of visitors and therefore it would be useful for the Croatian tourist offer to add the topic of wellness to the package,” concluded the Indian Ambassador to Croatia.

For more information on the Indian Ambassador to Croatia and much, much more, follow our dedicated politics section.


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