Hello magazine (10th Avg. 2015)

Hello magazine (10th Avg. 2015)

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( Hello! magazine interview with Ambassador )

Narinder Chauhan

With the aim to additionally strengthen and promote the relations between her country and Serbia, to which she was posted as ambassador two years ago, Mrs. Narinder Chauhan decided to become familiar with our country as best as possible, and avail to the maximum of all potentials during her stay here. Through numerous initiatives, suggestions and realizations of ideas, this educated, pleasant woman with firm attitudes, is daily devoted to her work, which she experiences as the most wonderful blessing. After opening the doors to her residence in Dedinje to “Hello!”  last year, she is sharing details of her life as a woman ambassador in Belgrade, how she spends her leisure time, and how she is progressing in her diplomatic mission in this part of the world, in the Embassy’s Chancery premises located in the same part of the capital, in the upcoming celebration of  India’s Independence Day  on 15th August. At the beginning of our interview, Ambassador Chauhan reflected on her previous two years of life in Serbia, and her impressions of this Balkan country.

- When India became independent, Yugoslavia offered its hand of friendship, went on to become not only a co-founder but also the birthplace of the Non-Aligned Movement, which your country upheld in 2011, when the 50th anniversary of founding of NAM was celebrated in Belgrade.  This is a part of the historical friendship of our countries. Wherever I travel through Serbia I am reminded of this closeness and friendship.

Is there something you would like to change in the relations between our two countries?

- What I would like to change is the number of Indians who visit and live here. Every sixth person of the world population is an Indian, but our number in Serbia is insignificant. Despite this, it is noticeable on every step of the way that your wonderful country is pro-India oriented. You not only cherish Indian culture, yoga and traditional Indian medicine ayurveda are present, as well as our films, TV serials and national cuisine. I am impressed that Serbia is broadcasting six of our TV serials. Although it is quite far away, India enjoys popularity here.

What are you most proud of in your professional engagement in Serbia?

- Currently,  India has launched several projects for our economic development and upliftment of society, such as make in India, digital India, Skills India etc. We also have plans  to create hundreds of so called “smart cities”.  We are the second most populous nation in the world after China, and we are headed to become the most populated country. We are 1.25b people and 65% are below the age of 35. And that is my priority - to connect the youths of the two countries. Young people are the future of the world. It is my desire to orientate them towards one another, to connect them through diplomacy, technology as well as civil society and culture. There is a whole world of joint possibilities before us, which we yet have to discover, and that gives me great joy.

In your previous interview for “Hello!” magazine you announced the forming of an ayurvedic centre in our country. How far off is this idea?

- I was delighted by the information that there are several doctors and physicians in Serbia who are familiar with this kind of medical treatment. In India we have established a separate Ministry for Yoga, Ayurveda and Homeopathy, with the aim to guide research, practice and the possibilities in these fields. Soon experts from medical centres of Serbia will travel to India for experience sharing in the clinical application of  ayurveda, yoga and homeopathy. This is part of a project we are working on together with the Ministry of Health of your country. We look forward immensely to the signing of a MOU and to the exchange of traditional medical knowledge, which will in time lead to the establishment of ayurvedic centre in Belgrade.

Where do you see the similarities between Serbia and India?

- I think these lie in family values, which are best depicted by the Indian serials currently running on Serbian TV stations. The family is the mirror of our society, and we are very similar in this. I was assured in this while travelling through your beautiful country.

How do you spend your time when you are not working?

- Serbia is a very friendly country, and that is its great advantage. Whatever I do and wherever I go I am treated like a citizen of this country, which is really wonderful. Freedom is the greatest value of all, and I enjoy it. I am happy when I talk to people and they ask me questions about India.

Your clothes are what gives you distinction at first sight in our country. Can you find quality materials in Serbia for your garments?

- Every Indian lady enjoys wearing the sari, which is made of natural fibers, pure cotton or silk, or a combination of the two. Unfortunately, in Serbia there are no retail venues where they can be found, although I have discovered one shop in Zemun which sells Shantung silk in wonderful, lively colours. Thus, I buy my saris and Indian dresses – called shalwar kameez, in India. Apart from textiles, our jewelry is also made of natural materials – pure gold, silver and precious stones. What I am wearing now is a handcrafted emerald. All of this is part of the Indian culture, and through connecting our two countries, our natural resources are becoming more and more present here, therefore valuable jewelry items are reaching the Serbian market.

Do you visit spa centres?

- I have visited a few, and I would like to encourage people to open ayurvedic centres within the spa complexes. That would contribute to long-term development of medical tourism in Serbia.

Do you travel to India often?

- Yes, at least once in a year. Now is not the right time to go there, as is it the monsoon rain season. I enjoy summertime in Belgrade and the feel of cotton in ‘Indian summer’ that you all are currently experiencing.

Do your husband, son and daughter visit you often in Belgrade?

- My husband in currently in India where he works, and my daughter recently completed
university and started working, so she is not able to travel. My son is currently with me, on his way to the USA, where he will be completing his PhD studies. He likes to stay in Belgrade, especially because he can ride his bicycle on Ada Ciganlija and Avala.

Do you join him sometime?

I very much enjoy taking long walks with my son.

Interview by: Deana Dukic
Photos: Mirko Tabasevic

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