Museveni: I’m a friend of India, Amin was a parasite

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President Museveni shares a light moment with the Indian High Commissioner Ravi Shankar during the Diwali celebrations at State House Entebbe yesterday Dec 8. PPU Photovv

President Yoweri Museveni has commended the Indian community in the country for having played a big role in Uganda’s development.

He wooed more Indian business people to invest in Uganda and take advantage of the unexploited potential in raw materials, manufacturing of fabrics, steel mills, dairy and leather tanning.

The President was speaking last evening at the 4th annual Diwali celebrations during which Mr. Museveni hosted the Indian community to the Diwali dinner at State House, Entebbe.

“The Indian community has played a big role in Uganda’s development. When the Indians came to Uganda, they filled the trading gap that existed. The community played a very complementary role in modernizing the country. It was a big mistake for Idi Amin to see them as a problem and chasing them away thereafter. It is only the Amin regime that saw the Indian community as a problem. People who were and behaved as parasites and were not engaged in production, were the ones that saw Indians as a problem,” he said.

Diwali {aka Deepavali} means rows of lit lamps. It is one of the most popular Hindu festivals of lights marking the victory of lights over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.

President Museveni assured them that there is no problem for the Indians born in Uganda to become citizens. He said that he would personally follow up the matter of citizenship of the Indians.

He noted that Africa is a continent that unites people adding that the Indians who have lived in Uganda are entitled to become citizens. He reiterated that citizenship should be based on loyalty to the State.

President Museveni observed that what Uganda lacks most today, is value addition to her products. He observed that before the Indian companies took over dairy production in the country, the Government plant in Kampala used to produce only 15,000 liters of milk per day.

He, however, observed that within a short time the production of milk rose to 500,000 liters per day. He, therefore, encouraged Indian groups to cover up the various areas of value addition and manufacturing. He urged them to engage in the industrial sector.

President Museveni assured his guests that Uganda will not have another shortage of electricity adding that the Government will strive to ensure that electricity is available and at a cheap price.

He added that the cost of electricity for industrial consumption should not be more than 5 American Cents per unit.

The Indian High Commissioner to Uganda, Mr. Ravi Shanker praised the bonds between Uganda and India, which stood together in the fight against colonialism.

“Uganda and India have stood together right from the time of fighting against colonialism. President Museveni is a friend of India,” said the Indian envoy.

High Commissioner Ravi Shanker said that the Indians of Uganda are honoured to be nationals of Uganda and India.

He saluted President Museveni for hosting them to the Diwali ceremony. He wished the President a merry Christmas and a happy New Year of 2018.

The Chairman of the Ugandan Indian Community Association, Mr. Chirag Dave, thanked President Museveni for the invitation to the Diwali celebrations in State House.

He assured the President that the Indian community is committed to working with Ugandans towards the industrialization of the country, promote peace, security and harmony not only in Uganda but the region as well.

He revealed that the Indian community has enabled 25 Ugandan children to undergo heart surgery in India adding that another 10 are being prepared to travel soon for similar treatment. He gave assurances that the Indian community is striving to make Uganda an export oriented country within a few years.

Minister for Energy and Minerals, Hon. Irene Muloni, attended the Diwali dinner.