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By Mulengera Reporter

Outgoing Indian High Commissioner to Uganda Shree Ravi Shankar has described Jinja as “a unique and most blessed town in Uganda” which he “will always cherish and treat as another home away from their country.”

Shankar, who is due to return to India for another state assignment in March, says it’s not surprising that the ashes of peace icon Mahatma Gandhi were sprinkled in River Nile in 1948.

“That’s why the government of India is committed to fulfilling a pledge made by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi to construct a memorial facility at the Source of the Nile,” said the envoy during a farewell dinner organized in his honor by the Indian Community in Jinja.

Held Sunday evening, the dinner took place at the newly constructed magnificent Yellow Chilly Restaurant (owned by an Indian entrepreneur) along Kiira Road in Jinja Municipality overlooking the Nile.

At the Source of the Nile stands a bronze statue of Gandhi, who was assassinated on January 30, 1948. Many local and international tourists visit and pray for inspiration of Gandhi’s nonviolent approach, as exhibited in his days both in India and Africa.

The ambassador told his guests, who comprised top Indian investors and local leaders, that the planned monument is a government-to-government project.

“Whether it’s me or another high commissioner coming after me, the project will have to be implemented because it was a commitment by the government of India; so, no question about it,” said Shankar, who was accompanied by his wife Akanksha.

He also used the occasion to praise Magal M Patel who owns more than 30 factories ranging from agro processing, refining, marketing of vegetable cooking oil, laundry bar soap, and wheat flour, as well as production of plastic jerrycans and water tanks, among others.

“I have been touched and impressed by the zeal and dedication that this man [Patel] has, which has made him one of the biggest investors offering employment and giving revenue to government in the area,” said the amiable and humble envoy.

For his part, Jinja Mayor Majid Batambuze asked pleaded with Shankar to plead with his government back home to also construct a five-star hotel at the Source of the Nile as one way of value addition.

Batambuze also lauded the Indian community for the corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities they have always extended to the locals as one way of giving back to the communities.

“Apart from giving our youths some employment, the investors have always responded to our calls during times of challenges especially when disasters strike our communities,” said Batambuze.

The ceremony would have ended without any controversy had Batambuze not asked the Indian community to throw their weight behind President Yoweri Museveni during the 2021 general elections.

“I urge you to vote for Museveni and also to return me as your mayor so that the enabling environment you are enjoying now continues and you make more money,” said the mayor.

His request was greeted with a deafening applause from the audience who had started enjoying their highly-spiced meals.

The envoy wasted no time. He responded in the affirmative, saying that the things the NRM government has done to transform Uganda speak for themselves. He added that the Indian Community “will do the needful at an appropriate moment.”

“We cannot afford to close our eyes to the good and positive policies that the President has consistently advocated for in encouraging foreign investors to come to Uganda,” he said.

Both Jinja RDC Eric Sakwa and LCV Chairman Titus Kisambira assured the investors of continued security by always deploying adequate personnel to keep watch over their facilities.



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