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The journey begins

Humza Yousaf, External Affairs and International Development Minister

18/10/2013
Blog / International
IOA acting chief Vijay Kumar Malhotra holding the baton next to Humza Yousaf Minister for External Affairs and International Development
Around this time last week I was honoured to accompany the Queen’s Baton as we both made our way to India, leaving behind an incredible carnival atmosphere with bagpipers and Bollywood dancers galore at Glasgow Airport.

It was just a matter of hours before the celebrations continued as the baton touched down in New Delhi and was greeted enthusiastically by representatives of the India Olympic Association and some of the country’s own top medal-winning athletes.
 
The baton was given an exceptionally warm welcome with athletes clambering over each other for photos and the opportunity to touch the baton while the organisers of the QBR in India presented Louise Martin from the Commonwealth Games Federation and I with so many flower garlands it was almost impossible to see over them.
 
Louse Martin with Vijay Kumar Malhotra and Indian athletesWe then strode out of the airport to a wall of media photographers and camera crews all trying to get a shot as Louise proudly handed over the baton to our friends in India. It was a joyful, pleasantly chaotic and historic moment.
 
The next night, after the QBR team took the batonto the iconic Taj Mahal and several of New Delhi’s best known visitor attractions, the British High Commission hosted an excellent event to celebrate its time in India.
 
If it hadn’t been for the heat, I might have thought I was back at home in Scotland because the garden was beautifully decorated with giant images of back home and some of our best known features – our world-class universities, our breathtaking scenery and our warm and friendly people to name just a few.
 
The British High Commissioner, Sir James Bevan, invited the assembled guests – people with links to both Scotland and India – to gather on the lawn as the baton was slowly revealed from behind its rotating screen.
 
The scene was spectacular. As the baton glistened in the spotlights, I could hear people around me marvel at its splendour. Even those who had seen and touched it the previous night were excited to be part of the big reveal.
 
Louise Martin shared her hope that while the baton spends the next several months travelling around the Commonwealth, hundreds of thousands of people from across the world will get the opportunity to see and importantly touch it.
 
Her vision started to become a reality as we all formed a queue to have a photo with the baton.
 
I share Louise’s hope that people across the entire Commonwealth community will tune in and feel proud that they played a part in the baton’s journey when Glasgow hosts its opening ceremony next summer.   
 
External Affairs Minister attends event in New Delhi - a partnership between Coatbridge College and an Indian institute for dental nursing courses is announcedWhile the baton then left India to continue on its relay around the 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth, I remained in the country– taking the opportunity to build and strengthen Scotland’s business, tourism, education, cultural and diplomatic links with India.
 
I have been proud to represent Scotland in a range of engagements with businesses, entrepreneurs and existing and potential investors, and to announce several new collaborations between our two nations, including bilateral trade agreements worth more than 10 million pounds.
 
And I look forward to welcoming the Queen’s Baton back to Glasgow next summer.