Indian Ambassador Gautam Mukhopadhaya says he will miss Myanmar.
Speaking at a farewell reception on Tuesday, he said: “I almost feel astrologically connected to this country.”
The Indian ambassador will soon leave office after completing his three-year-mission in Myanmar and return to India. Apparently touched by this experience he underlined the kindness and loveliness of the country and its people. “I feel very much at home here,” he said.
Mukhopadhaya has chosen an unusual place for his farewell reception: The LIC Building on Merchant Street, a relic of Yangon’s colonial history. At the same time, it is quite a fitting place for the ambassador due to his support for cultural exchanges. Simultaneously, an art exhibition on the theme Yangon, curated by Artist Khin Zaw Latt was opening and book launches of 'Relics of Rangoon' by Philip Heijman, and '80 Scenes from the life of Buddha', brought out by U Myint Thu of the Myanmar Heritage Publishing House were in the centre of the event.
The event was also part of the Indian Pwe Festival 2016 that was supported by the ambassador to strengthen cultural exchange between India and Myanmar. “The reason why I have done this event and Indian Pwe is to express my appreciation to the people of Myanmar for a lovely country, lovely people, and lovely culture,” he said.
As a gift he has been given the traditional Myanmar hat Gaung Baung. He also emphasised the importance of Myanmar for India and honoured the huge transformation process that is taking place in the country. Myanmar has all the resources one needs to become a flourishing society, he said, and he wishes that all the promises made for a better future will finally come true.
Mr Mukhopadhaya took office in June 2013. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1980 and has since served in various capacities in Indian Embassies including Mexico, France, Cuba, Afghanistan and Syria. During his term in office, he was involved in the process of strengthening business ties between India and Myanmar. Some experts used to remark that trade and investment between the two neighbouring countries still remain low, for example in comparison to China. One reason for this may be the lack of proper trade connections. India is currently investing in projects like the Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Transit Project to build better road and sea connections.
Asking what kind of advice he would give his successor, he replied: “My advice is to realise that Myanmar and India have forgotten that we were historically as well contemporary neighbours and to recreate that psychological feeling of neighbourhood that has been lost over the last 50 years.” After that he rushed away, shaking hands with a number of people eating dark chocolate cake - because the day was not just his farewell reception but also his 60th birthday.