and the target audience. The successful, widespread celebration and participation in the third
International Day of Yoga highlights the continued efficacy of India’s universal culture. The
Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) organised a number of events across the world to
showcase India’s rich heritage, including a seminar on Sanskrit in France and a Virat Hindi Kavi
Sammelan in the UK. The opening of an Indian Cultural Centre at Tel Aviv was announced
during the visit of the Prime Minister to Israel.
The Government has made a concerted effort to engage with the Indian diaspora over the
years and extended to them its support and encouragement for contributing to their country of
origin. Apart from organising the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas held biennially, the Ministry regularly
organises Regional Pravasi Bhartiya Divas outside India to connect with them in specific regions
to familiarise them with the policies and programmes of the Government and enable them to
contribute to India’s development and growth.
The Government’s emphasis on providing citizen-centric governance and make its public
service delivery functions more efficient continued this year. The e-Tourist Visa (eTV) launched
in April 2015 has been further liberalized as e-visa, extending its eligibility from tourism to
include business and medical purposes, and expanding its coverage to 161 countries and
increasing the duration of stay permitted under the scheme. The process of consular grievance
redressal for Indians living abroad has also been improved by making MADAD or the Consular
Services Management System available on Mobile Apps and through social media.
Afghanistan: India-Afghanistan strategic relationship saw further consolidation with
expansion in the multifaceted cooperation in all areas, including political, defence, security, trade
and investment, connectivity, development partnership, social and cultural issues, education and
capacity building. This was facilitated by exchange of several high-level visits, including visits
of President of Afghanistan in October; Chief Executive in September and November 2017;
Second Vice President in December and Foreign Minister in September 2017.
At all the meetings, both sides expressed grave concern at the incidents of terror and
violence and noted that terrorism presented the greatest threat to peace, stability and progress of
the region and beyond. Success of India’s bilateral relationship with Afghanistan can be gauged
by the description of India by Afghan leadership as the preferred development partner.
Bangladesh: Continued high-level visits and exchanges, including at the highest
political levels between India and Bangladesh helped maintain the momentum of bilateral
relations between the two countries. Prime Minister of Bangladesh paid a state visit to India in
April 2017 following which tangible progress was made on mutually identified initiatives in
multifaceted areas through broadening of cooperation and implementation of the decisions taken
during the visit.
Bhutan: India and Bhutan share close and friendly relations characterized by deep
mutual trust and understanding. In 2017-18 sustained progress in all areas of cooperation was
seen. The momentum of bilateral ties was carried forward by high level visits and meetings of
various bilateral mechanism.
Prime Minister of Bhutan visited Guwahati in March 2017 to attend the opening of the
‘Namami Brahamputra’ river festival as the Guest of Honour. Its Finance Minister, visited India