SPEECH OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA, H.E. SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET HOSTED IN HER HONOUR BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SWISS CONFEDERATION H.E. MRS. MICHELINE CALMY-REY
Bern, Swiss Confederation, 3rd October 2011
Your Excellency President Micheline Calmy-Rey, Mr. Andre Calmy,
Excellencies Federal Councillors, Presidents of the National Council and Council of States, Other Distinguished Guests,
It is indeed a pleasure for me as well as for the members of my delegation to be here today in Berne. I would like to thank you Your Excellency, for the warm reception and hospitality given to us in the beautiful and historic Bernerhof.
Switzerland is known all over the world for its unique democratic institutions, designed to give citizens a voice on major issues; it is only natural that the relations between Switzerland and India should be warm and friendly. The Treaty of Friendship and Establishment between India and Switzerland signed on 14th August 1948 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, was one of the first treaties to be signed by India as an independent country. The words in this Treaty that "There shall be perpetual peace and unalterable friendship" between our two countries ring true today, and will for the years to come.
Switzerland's contribution to India's development in the early years after our Independence is appreciated and well-remembered. Today, as India emerges as a powerful engine of the global economy, new opportunities are emerging for mutually beneficial cooperation. The growing Indian middle class offers a huge market for the high quality consumer goods that Switzerland is famous for. The advanced technology developed in many areas by your firms, can help in the updating our techno-industrial base in sectors, which will sustain our development. India's strengths in Research and Development, and the sophisticated yet cost-effective manufacturing facilities it offers, can help Swiss companies retain their competitive edge globally.
Excellency, the people of India are familiar with Switzerland. Your panoramic and picturesque sceneries have been the backdrop of many Indian movies. These films have made Switzerland an attractive destination for Indian travellers. More and more Indian tourists are coming here. As there have been a number of events in your country focusing on India, including its being the Guest of Honour, at the popular annual Geneva Festival, these will, I hope result in more Swiss people travelling to India.
People-to-people contacts including between students and academics add vigour to the relationship between countries. I am happy that we would be making an excellent beginning towards encouraging such educational exchanges, by establishing the Tagore Chair of Indian Studies at the University of Lausanne.
May I once again extend our gratitude to you for having made our stay here so special. It is indeed, a matter of great pleasure for me and my delegation to have had the chance to visit your beautiful country.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I now invite you to join me in a toast to:-
- the success, good health and prosperity of Her Excellency President Micheline Calmy-Rey and Mr. Andre Calmy, the other Honourable Members of the Federal Council and their spouses;
- the further strengthening of our abiding friendship and multi-faceted ties; and
- the peace, progress and well-being of the peoples of India and Switzerland.