Raj Kumar Srivastava – 75th Indian Independence Day

I was thinking that there was nothing in the world that could take me back to Zagreb from the island of Hvar in the middle of summer, especially since I was there with Kim Kardashian but I was wrong like captain of TITANIC when he said: ”It’s just ice. Full speed forward!”
I got a call from the Indian embassy in Zagreb: ”Will you come to our embassy and interview our ambassador Mr. Raj Kumar Srivastava? We are celebrating 75th Indian independence Day soon and you could write about it.”
I told her: ”I need to go. It’s not you, It’s me.” Kim cried like Kim Yong -un when they broke his favorite rice bowl. She left Kanye West, and I left her. It’s KARMA
Raj Kumar Srivastava & Dear Leader Joe
Photo: Flash.hr

15.8. you are celebrating 75th independence Day of the Republic of India. What did you achieve in those 75 years and will you celebrate your history and remember all the battles that you had or you will be more focused on the future of India? Most important question: Why did you choose the same date for your Independence Day as our national catholic holiday Vela Gospa?

This year 15th August is the 75th Independence Day of India and next year in 2022 it would be 75th anniversary of independence. India is celebrating this historic occasion as ”Amrit Festival”, starting from 12th March 2021 to 15th August 2023 – 75 weeks before upto one year after the 75th anniversary on 15th August 2022. While launching the celebrations on 12th March 2021 at the famous Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat, the land of action of Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that this special ”Amrit festival” would be celebrated with five pillars – Freedom Struggle, Ideas at 75, Achievements at 75, Actions at 75 and Resolves at 75 – which would inspire the dreams and duties of free India to move forward. The date of 12th March is important in Indian Freedom Struggle as on that date in 1930 Mahatma Gandhi started the 24 days and 385 kms long journey on foot from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi to launch the Civil Disobedience Movement against the British rule by producing the salt at Dandi which was prohibited by Britishers.

At the 75th Independence Day, India today stands as a Self-Reliant Pole in the world which is increasingly multipolar. It is a pole that provides regional and global stability and contributes in enhancing peace & prosperity. India treats the world as one family – ”Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”.

Securing India The Modi Way
Photo: @DearLeaderJoe, Flash.hr

Will you organize some special Indian movie/food/yoga week In Croatia or something like that? I know some catholic fanatics including my parents so I could worn them. They are scared of yoga 🙂 

The Indian cinema remains strong and resilient despite the pandemic and it is becoming increasingly more global with themes and technology which are at par with anywhere in the world. As part of India@75 celebrations there will be many Indian films that would be shown in different parts of Croatia, for example our friends in Zagreb can enjoy one of the famous Indian commercial movie in open air theatre at Summer Cinema Gradec in the evening of 22nd August. Another example is that India has participated in all five editions in Marco Polo Film Festival in Korcula. We can expect more films shooting from India in Croatia in future to make Croatian destinations more popular among Indian tourists, who are increasingly travelling abroad for leisure.

Croatia is one country where Indian traditional systems like Yoga and Ayruveda are extremely popular. It is no surprise that International Day of Yoga (21st June) has been celebrated in Croatia for last 7 years since its designation by the United Nations in 2015 and this year in 2021 about 40 events were organized in 40 different locations in Croatia in the month of June. Recognizing this deep interest we have decided to organize an International Yoga and Ayurveda Conference in Zagreb in October 2021 with participation of experts from Croatia, India and other parts of Europe. Similarly, there would be participation by Indian music and dance groups in Rijeka Carnival and Dubrovnic & Split Summer Festivals next year. As we celebrate India@75 in coming two years, we would be organizing innovative events in Croatia bringing two countries culturally together in terms of understanding and sharing the best that we have.

International Yoga Day

We all know the famous USA movie Independence Day. Does India have a similar movie: ”Indian Independence Day” Bollywood production?

There are many good movies that we have in India on Indian Freedom movement and fighters, here is a list of my top ten:

1. Mother India
2. Sardar
3. Kala Paani
4. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero
5. The Legend of Bhagat Singh
6. Mangal Pandey: The Rising
7. Saat Hindustani
8. Rang de Basanti
9. 1942: A Love Story
10. Lagaan

Mahatma Gandhi is probably the most famous fighter for Indian independence (Indian Vin Diesel, just skinnier and less violent) but there were also people that were fighting for the same cause but not so peacefully like him. They are now freedom fighters but at that moment they were terrorists for the government. If you lose you are a terrorist, if you win you are a freedom fighter 🙂 Who was more important for Indian independence and what would you say to those people that say: But Brit’s give them education, railways, language etc.

On your question on British rule my answer is “British rulers created in India what they needed to prolong their stay and extract Indian resources out for their benefits, there was no benevolence and value creation for India. That’s why, despite their rule being a small blip in the long civilizational history of India of about 5000 years, it created large impoverishment of Indian economy. India has finally re-emerged in terms of economic growth and that’s another celebration of India@75. Amrit Festival is also a celebration of millions of unsung heroes of Indian Freedom Struggle who all together contributed in British rule becoming unsustainable.”

In the past people from poor families didn’t have a chance in society, they would need to stay poor till the rest of their life. How is the situation now? Do you have programs for kids from poor families so they could get the best education and find better jobs in the future and in what kind of education or startups you invest the most? In Croatia we teach kids to go to church and pray a lot and that they will burn in hell if they don’t behave like this

IT sector in India

The power of IT sector in India is built on the people of India – the skilled human resources of India. The tradition of mathematics and logic is inbuilt in Indian ancient civilization. One of the most logical language in the world is Sanskrit which is the foundation of many Indian languages. Because of this background there is natural focus on science and engineering in our education system and, therefore, India produces more engineers than anywhere in the world who could easily become IT experts if the opportunities are offered. This is one of the key reasons that people led revolution has taken place in India which is the digital revolution. The Government of India has launched 6 years back Digital India program to provide the digital infrastructure and training facilities for strengthening this already strong movement so that the big demographic opportunity of India could be converted into a skill-based demographic dividend. When we look at 100+ unicorns (the start-ups with over $1 billion net worth) of India, it is important to realize that the Digital India and Start-up India programs have contributed strongly into this achievement and this is also an achievement of India@75.

On opportunities for poor people in India, I would say increasingly Indian economic growth is becoming more inclusive and focus of the government has been in improving “ease of living” for every person in India. This is where the transformational initiatives like, Clean India, Energy for All, Housing for All, Ayushmaan Bharat – healthcare program and Skill India are aimed at. This is the Indian Resolve @75.

The modest background of our our Prime Minister and other leaders today are also motivational for our youth for limitless possibilities that exist in India today.

In one moment Raj asked me could I give him advice for catering for their Independence Day. He knows that I am famous Gastro Snob. They served me some Ayurveda teas with traditional Indian snacks: Samosa, chicken pakora, chutney – sauce, mainly comprised of two common Indian herbs -.cilantro and mint.

Dear Leader Joe & Raj Kumar Srivastava
Photo: Flash.hr
Indian food
Photo: @DearLeaderJoe, Flash.hr
Indian tea
Photo: @DearLeaderJoe, Flash.hr

After only six plates bc. I didn’t want to be unpolite and later listen: ”How can he eat so much? We could feed half of India with this food”, I said: ”This could be good for your event”. 

Independance is all about freedom and freedom isn’t just a flag and national anthem, freedom is much more than this. We can see now that in these Covid times we are losing our freedom: We can not travel like before, we don’t have freedom of speech anymore (censorship on social media and MSM media), we can not work and provide for our families, we can not have a normal life if we don’t wear a mask, take the PCR test or the experimental vaccine that will give us Covid passport,,. All of this reminds me of Nazi Germany and the Second World War. How is the situation now in India? Will you force people to take Covid vaccine, will they have less rights in the society if they don’t have Covid passports and when will India open again for tourists from all around the world? Could People travel to India without Covid passports and PCR testing till the end of this year?

On your question on Freedom:

I would say like many concepts of human civilization, freedom also is constantly evolving with changing circumstances and new external stimuli like the pandemic. Freedom to travel would create conflict with current need of providing freedom for healthcare and life. There would be continuous interactions and exchanges between different forms of freedom.

On COVID-19 and Indian economy:

While India managed the first wave of the pandemic last year extremely well, the second wave this year in April–June period has been tough, mainly due to the sudden peak that it created in terms of number of infections on daily basis. The situation since July has improved and the signs of economic recovery are visible in the Indian economy. The pandemic has affected the whole world, but some sectors of economy have grown disproportionately due to the change in our lifestyles that we had to make due to the pandemic. The digital transformation and healthcare sectors have grown tremendously in India given our natural strength in both these areas prior to the pandemic times. This pandemic has prompted the Indian entrepreneurs and businesses to reinvent themselves and provide solutions to the problems that this pandemic has created. In that context, India’s self-reliance has increased including the self-confidence of Indian people. India’s vaccine production as well as pharmaceutical supplies have helped more than 80 countries in the world during the first wave last year and first quarter of 2021. For itself India has just touched the mark of 500 million doses for its population, with an aim to ensure vaccination for entire Indian population by end of 2021.

In these trying times, Indian start-ups have grown by providing scalable solutions in the areas of Healthcare, FinTech, Digital Transformation and Sustainable Development. Number of unicorns have grown in the last two years in India at the highest growth rate. It is clear indication that the entrepreneural activity in India has remained resilient.

With continuing the economic reforms and new incentives like Production Linked Incentives scheme, Government has ensured that India remained one of most favored destinations for FDI, even in this time of pandemic.

Relations between Croatia and India? We are a really strong force together. More than 1,3 billion Croatians and Indians if we Unite.

India is likely to grow at significant rates in the next two decades and there would be opportunities because of this growth with respect to India-Croatia economic engagements. As Croatia also moves into transition phase, from being an Central/Eastern European country to a complete European economy with Schengen and Eurozone entry coming up, there will be new and stronger opportunities for increased Indian and Croatian engagements. These interactions would be based on complementarities and strengths of our two countries and recognizing those we are working towards building further our strong relationship. Croatian technology companies would have great potential to multiply their potential given the vast Indian market and growth. Some companies (about 10) have already made a big exposure to this opportunity in India. Sure important Indian investments are taking shape in Croatia. Post pandemic, I expect these success stories to grow as we engage more physically.

My uncle said that the most beautiful women in the world are from India. He was working there during Yugoslavia. Many Indian workers come to work in Croatia. Can we expect even more workers in the future? I think we could do much more than this. Can you use your influence as ambassador of India and tell them in New Delhi to send us less IT and Construction workers and more good looking Indian girls? Then I can ask my father and mother to arrange for me to marry Miss India or some Bollywood star.

Our demographic complementarities would definitely create more opportunities for movement of skilled people for mutual benefits. As Croatia has opened this space since January 2021 it would be for Croatian companies to determine what is beneficial in terms of skilled people from India. What we have tried to do is to connect the ecosystems so that Croatian companies can benefit from the skill development revolution that is taking place in India, including with the change of focus in our education policy from degree-based education to skill-based education. I am particularly focused on creating new bridges between our education & research institutions for connecting our academics & youth. We have created five new connections in this context, this year so far between Croatian Universities & Indian counterparts. Croatia is a good place to have work-life balance where you enjoy the process and not always rushing for outcomes.

Recognizing the potential of innovation ecosystems of the two countries to engage and find mutually beneficial opportunities we have worked in the last 6-8 months to create digital seminars for understanding a way forward for harnessing such opportunities. We hope that by end of this year we would be able to establish India-Croatia Start-up Bridge to streamline and institutionalize the engagements. India has such start-up bridges with 11 countries and Croatia could become 12th such country very soon. This will allow start-ups from India to be informed & utilize digital nomad policy in Croatia and Croatian start-ups to scale up their activities given the vast Indian markets. It will also allow cross investment opportunities and most importantly the possibility of co-creation and co-development for solving global problems in third countries. Already some examples of this kind are taking shape.

On your last notorious question on you finding a partner from India, I would respond with Indian philosophical thought, “you get what you deserve” & “you deserve what your karma creates”

Karma,  Photo screenshot

Karma is ok but I told him that I will not go home until he send email to New Delhi.

Raj Kumar Srivastava
Photo: @DearLeaderJoe, Flash.hr

I was so happy  he send that email that I gave him a bottle of Katunar Kurykta Reserva red wine (Gold medal on Vinistra 2021.). In the background you can see cricket match between India and England. I asked Raj: ”We could open this bottle and watch the game.” He sad: ”This game will last for five days. You wanna stay so long in our embassy?”

Dear Leader Joe & Raj Kumar Srivastava – Katunar Kurykta Reserva
Photo: Flash.hr

I understand diplomacy language. He politely told me to go home. Who would play some game for five days? We shook hands and I left home to finish this amazing interview.

Special thx to FIDELIO TAILOR for my new summer diplomacy blazer.

Raj Kumar Srivastava & Dear Leader Joe
Photo: Flash.hr

Author: Josip Novosel aka Vin Diesel for poor people and self proclaimed Dear Leader Joe, a corresponding member of the “If you practice Yoga, you will burn in Hell” magazine, a friend to the wealthy, a tycoon and a Gastro Snob but above all a human.



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