Bangalore welcomes His Majesty
By Liza Mohd in Bangalore, India

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam continued the state visit to India yesterday by flying to Bangalore, the capital of the southern state of Karnataka, also known as the 'Silicon Valley of India' that spearheads the growth of IT based industries in the country.

From the Bangalore International Airport, His Majesty first visited the Regiment Training Centre responsible for all Parachute Training and was welcomed upon arrival by the Officiating Commandant Col Sangwan and the Junior Commission officers.

His Majesty consented to hear a briefing delivered by the Officiating Commandment on the history and operations of the Centre.

The Parachute Regiment Training Centre is one of the premier institutions of the Indian Army. It conducts recruit training and basic skills training for personnel joining the Parachute Regiment, considered as the 'elite' regiment of the Indian Army.

The regiment comprises the Parachute and Parachute Special Forces Batallions and the paratroopers who have earned numerous glories in conventional wars as well as the ongoing counter terrorist operations.

Later His Majesty visited the centre's training ground where the Monarch viewed training activities and a live demonstration of a Paramotor flying display, 'slithering' operations, precision shooting training, STIE Operations and combat shooting from the paratroopers.

His Majesty also viewed display of arms used by the parachute regiment and tried one of the air-compressed arms at the state of the art indoor precision shooting range. The ruler also viewed demonstration of clearing of a hut in a village in a counter insurgency area.

The Ruler next visited the Officer's Mess where His Majesty received a 'pesambah'.

The Brunei delegation next toured the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) of ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), responsible for the development of satellites, launch vehicles, sounding rockets and associated ground systems.

Upon arrival, His Majesty was greeted by the Director of ISTRAC Mr SK Shivakumar before going to the conference hall for a briefing of various activities involved in the Indian space programme.

The ISRO under the Space Commission and Department of Space (DOS) has been set up by the government of India in June 1972 to execute space programmes through its establishments in different parts of India.

At ISRO, His Majesty toured the satellite control centre which covers activities such as digital systems, power systems, integration and testing, structures, thermal, spacecraft mechanisms, control systems, spacecraft mission planning and analysis; computers and information; systems reliability as well as communication and microwave systems.

His Majesty then signed the visitor's book and consented to a group photo with the Directors and Senior Officials of ISTRAC.

Next was a luncheon hosted by the Governor of Karnataka Rameshwar Thakur at the governor's official residence of Raj Bhavan.

At the residence, His Majesty met the Indian delegation while the Brunei delegation was received by the Governor of Karnataka.

After the luncheon His Majesty signed the visitors book and received a 'pesambah' of a 'Mysore turban' which symbolises part of the formal traditional attire of people in the districts of Mysore and Kodagu.

The meeting with the Governor of Karnataka marks the end of His Majesty's state visit to India which has been substantial as bilateral relations between Brunei Darussalam and India are enhanced with the signing of four pacts on Thursday.

The visit has been augmented with the signing of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) and three Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Culture, Arts and Sports; cooperation in Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector and the establishment of a joint trade committee.

Renewing the agreement on the establishment of a Telemetry Tracking and Telecommand Station which has been established since August 5, 1997 has also been renewed. The four-day state visit marks significant bilateral progress between Brunei and India since His Majesty's last visit to India over a decade ago.

During the visit to New Delhi, His Majesty met with the Indian President Pratibha Patill; Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; Vice President Hamid Ansari; UPA Chairperson Sonia Ghandi; Minister of Finance P Chidambaram and Defence Minister A K Antony.

His Majesty in his Titah at the State banquet said he looked forward to working with the Prime Minister in expanding ties not only in traditional areas such as health and education, but also through trade, investment, defence and especially information technology in which India has emerged as a world leader.

Meanwhile a joint statement appearing in the web site of Indian External Affairs Ministry stated: "Both sides emphasised the importance of energy security for their economic growth and development. The Indian side expressed interest to continue importing crude oil from Brunei Darussalam on mutually beneficial terms. To meet the increasing energy requirements, the Indian side expressed interest to import Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Brunei Darussalam.

"Both sides identified the need for cooperation in the defence sector, and agreed to explore specific areas of cooperation.

"The two sides welcomed the signing of the MoU on Cooperation in the fields of Culture, Arts and Sports, which would increase cultural exchanges between the two countries. The Indian side expressed appreciation to the support extended by Brunei Darussalam to the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) Asia Centre at Chandigarh, which will be transformed into a Centre of Excellence as agreed at the 2006 Commonwealth Youth Ministers' Meeting in Bahamas.

"Both sides welcomed the signing of the MOU on Cooperation in the Operation of the Telemetry Tracking and Telecommand Station for Satellite and Launch Vehicles and for Cooperation in the field of Space Research Science and Applications. The Indian side expressed appreciation to the Bruneian side for all the cooperation and assistance rendered to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) over the last decade.

"The Indian side highlighted the importance of Brunei Darussalam within Asean and the understanding expressed by Brunei Darussalam on India's "Look East" policy. The two sides look forward to an early conclusion of the negotiations in the Asean-India FTA and to realise the target of India - Asean trade reaching US$50 billion by the year 2010.

"The Indian side expressed its appreciation to the support extended by Brunei Darussalam to the candidature of India for the post of Secretary General of the Commonwealth during the elections in November 2007. Both sides also agreed to deepen cooperation in other regional and international fora like ARF, ASEM, WTO and the UN.

"The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to the United Nations and stressed the need for urgent reforms so that the world body can truly reflect the political, economic and social realities of the 21st century. They underlined the importance of early reform of the United Nations Security Council, including its expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories, with a view to enhancing its transparency and effectiveness. In this context, Brunei Darussalam supports India's intention to be one of the candidates for permanent membership of the expanded UN Security Council.

"The two sides stressed that terrorism constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. They strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stressed that there can be no justification, whatsoever, for any acts of terrorism.

"They emphasised the need for concerted and coordinated action by the international community, in accordance with international law, to realise the objectives of eradicating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

"Both sides stressed the importance of an expeditious conclusion of negotiations and the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. They agreed to further expand the bilateral dialogue and cooperation in combating terrorism, organised crime and trafficking.

"The two sides underlined that climate change is a global challenge with strong economic, environmental and social dimensions that impacted all countries and especially the developing countries; it required a concerted international response based on the principle of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

"The two sides agreed that stronger international cooperation within the UN framework is needed to take steps to cope with and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change especially in the areas of adaptation, mitigation, capacity building, technology transfer, and adequate financing facilities.

"Both leaders shared the view that a future strategy designed to combat climate change should at the same time support sustainable development, economic growth and poverty reduction which are vital for developing countries.

"The two sides discussed a range of other international issues, and agreed to cooperate and work together to promote international peace and development.

"Both leaders expressed satisfaction with the results of the State Visit and concluded that it had contributed positively to the strengthening of the friendly ties between the two countries." - Borneo Bulletin (24th May 2008)