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Welcome Speech by Marc A.Huybrechts,
Honorary Consul General of India in Antwerp

On the Occasion of the Inauguration of the Bust of

Mahatma Gandhi in the Antwerp

Provincial Gardens , January 30, 2013

Mme Cathy Berx, Governor of the Province of Antwerp,

Your Excellency, Shri Salman Khurshid,Minister of External Relations,

Your Execellency , Shri Dinkar Khullar, Ambassador of India to Belgium, to Luxembourg and to the European Union,

Your Excellency Kris Peeters, Minister President of the Flemish Government,

Dear Mr Rafael Cuevas,Dean of the Antwerp Corps Consulaire,

and Distinguished Colleagues of the “Corps Consulaire” in Antwerp,

Dear distinguished Guests and Dear Friends of the Indian community in Antwerp,

What a joy it is for me, as Honorary Consul General of India, to welcome His Excellency Shri Salman Khurshid, the Minister of External Relations, here in Antwerp who ,despite his very busy schedule, took time to travel to Antwerp in order to unveil and to inaugurate the bust of Mahatma Gandhi , the Father of the Indian Nation, on this very day of the 30th of January which is also the day that “Bapu” passed away as he had fallen victim to the despicable action of an extremist- Bapu who was a true “Prince of Peace” and a strong and convinced promoter of non-violence , or the “Ahimsa”, essential value of Indian culture!

But nonetheless all over the world, Mahatma Gandhi or “Bapu” has been re-emerging ever since as a Phoenix out of his ashes.

Physically Bapu may have passed away on the 30 th of January,but spiritually “Bapu” is very much alive and he is with us today!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests, my time to speak on this introductory message is very limited and time is slipping away but before I pass the floor to Mme Governor , and to His Excellency the Minister, I would like to fulfil a most important duty which I cannot postpone.

Indeed , I have an absolute duty to thank a number of persons whose contribution has been essential to the realisation of this new landmark for Antwerp and its people.

In the first place I would like to thank Mr Pierre Tack, our architect who had to implement the drawings that were prepared in Delhi and he had to make them fit to the specifics of the present building site here in Antwerp. I would do him great injustice to say that this was the only thing he did, quite to the contrary, Pierre was always present during the construction process and he saw to it that everything was implemented in the correct way.

Mr.Pierre Tack , standing here next to me, is a good friend of mine and I want the public to recognize him with a round of solid applause.

Next, I would like to thank Mr Kim D’Hondt, the building contractor of AABP, construction company of Alost, who did the physical job and who, during winter time managed to deliver the construction in due time; what a pleasure it was to work with such punctual contractor!

Thank you very much Mr Kim D’Hondt. And ladies and gentlemen, also a round of applause for our contractor please!

Thank you, thank you, Mme Governor! for it is the Province who allocated a new and more a safe building spot to place the bust of Mahatma Gandhi.

In its previous location in Albert Park, the bronze value of Mahatma Gandhi's bust was apparently more important to the copper thiefs than the message of the “Mahatma”.

We hope that here, in the Provincial Gardens, under the immediate inspection and under the immediate eyesight of Mme Governor and her Distinguished Deputies, the bust of Mahatma Gandhi will be much better located .

Anyhow, as a master on board of my vessel, I have also taken the initiative to buy proper insurance against “Theft and malicious damage”, because one never knows what the Marine adventure will imply for this statue.

And finally, most important of all, I have to thank all the generous and noble sponsors of the Antwerp Indian Community and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.

Let there be no misunderstanding : construing a simple pedestal for the bust of Mahatma Gandhi has proved to be a very expensive and difficult exercise.

The Indian Community in Antwerp has helped me generously to make this dream to come true .

Many thanks to our main sponsor and to all the other sponsors as well, for their generous contributions!
Our appeal to the community has not been in vain and did not fall upon deaf ears.

Thank you mr, Ari Epstein, CEO of AWDC and Mr Samir Mehta , Board member of the “Antwerp World Diamond Centre” for filling up the substantial balance that was left.

Thank you so much Mr Santosh Kedia and Board members of the Antwerp Indian Association, Mr Santosh Kedia was the person who brokered a “sydicated” contribution scheme in the Antwerp community !

Thank you so much, Dear Board Members of the Jain Cultural Centre Antwerp,
Thank you so much Mr CEO of the State Bank of India, SBI have always sponsored the charitable programmes of the Indian Consulate General here in Antwerp,

Thank you so much Mr.CEO of the Bank of India,

Thank you so much Dilip Baron Mehta, CEO of Rosy Blue corporation ; over the years your Company has been a constant support for the Indian community here in Antwerp!

And thank you so much Mr Patawari Borad, CEO of the highly successful Geminini Corporation.

As an exception to the rule , your Company is indeed not involved in diamond trade, but nonetheless you also joined our initiative because you were aware of its importance.

Before I come to close and I pass the floor to Mme Governor and His Excellency, the Minister, let me reiterate my heartfelt thanks.

I thought at the inception of this project that construing a pedestal for the statue of Mahatma Gandhi was a very easy and straightforward matter.

But none of that is true, it was a complicated and time-consuming enterprise. At the given point in time, at the inception of construction, I was met with all sorts of rather strange requirements which I thought to be far-fetched demands such as survey studies and stability studies etc.

Frankly speaking at that time, I had the impression that we were about to construct a new edition of the “World Trade Centre”.

But coming to think of it, finally yes, we have been building something that carries possibly more weight than the World Trade Centre.

We have indeed construed the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, who carries a most important and solid message to the our civilisation and to the rest of the world.

In simple words that the message reads:

“ my life is my message”

Mme Governor ,may ask you to take the floor.

Marc A.Huybrechts, HCG India
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