SPEECH BY SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, AT BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, MRS. GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO
New Delhi, 5th October 2007
Your Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome you to India. I wish you a very pleasant stay and I hope we are able to reciprocate the warmth and hospitality that the people of the Philippines are so well known for.
Excellency, your father Diosdado Macapagal visited India in 1961 in his capacity as the Vice President of the Philippines. Today is thus a very special occasion when we warmly welcome his daughter to India as the President of the Philippines, a country which your national hero Dr. Jose Rizal described as the "Pearl of the Orient Sea". Your visit, Madame President not only has a special significance, but would also mark a defining moment in the development of our bilateral relations.
India and the Philippines enjoyed peaceful and mutually beneficial contacts long before the colonial era, when seafarers and traders from India visited the Philippines via Indonesia and the Malaya peninsula. The cultural and linguistic legacy of these early contacts is still visible today. Both our countries also shared a similar history of colonialism and the struggle for freedom and democracy.
Our great leaders, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Jose Rizal inspired the freedom movements in their respective countries. Although they were not exact contemporaries, their vision had remarkably much in common in the pursuit of internal social and economic reform as being equally important to the attainment of political independence. These values have endured in our years of independence. Our common commitment to democracy and an open society, pluralism and inclusiveness constitute a natural bond between the two countries.
Today, India and the Philippines stand at the threshold of a new era of progress. Both countries are witnessing historically unprecedented rates of economic growth. Under your stewardship Madame President, the Philippine economy has registered the highest growth rates in over two decades. The Indian economy is also now enjoying sustained high rates of growth. This is indeed an opportune moment to further intensify trade and investment links between our two countries.
Our economic links have been growing, but have perhaps still not attained their full potential. Our companies have invested in areas such as textiles and steel in the Philippines, but there is scope to facilitate greater investment flows. New opportunities for cooperation are arising in a variety of sectors including agriculture and animal husbandry, pharmaceuticals, mining and non-conventional energy. It is a matter of considerable satisfaction, that both our countries have emerged as global leaders in Information Technology and IT enabled services. This is a most promising area of future cooperation and collaboration, that will enable our IT companies to jointly pursue business opportunities in third countries. Madame President, your visit will undoubtedly give a fillip to the intensification of our bilateral economic relations.
Under our "Look East" policy, India is committed to an extensive and deep partnership with the ASEAN and the countries of East Asia, including the vision of creating an Asian Economic Community. The Philippines is a strong pillar of our multi-dimensional engagement with the region. We congratulate the Philippines for its recent successful and fruitful Chairmanship of ASEAN and the East Asia Summit which gave further momentum to the process of close engagement amongst the countries of Asia. We particularly value the consistent support given by the Philippines for India's participation in the East Asia Summit.
Madame President, for the first time in modern history, Asia is in the process of taking center-stage in world affairs. The 21st Century truly belongs to Asia. We fully endorse your vision to see your country join the ranks of the First World by 2020. We also believe that India has a crucial role to play in the emerging world order. Our shared commitment to the values of non-violence and tolerance should serve as an inspiration and a beacon of hope in a world plagued by narrow sectarianism and terrorism. India is committed in its resolve to foster friendly ties with all nations of the world and together with the Philippines work towards enhancing international peace and security.
May I now request Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, to join me in a toast:-
- to the good health and happiness of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo;
- to the continued progress and prosperity of the people of the Philippines; and
- to the friendship and cooperation between India and the Philippines.