SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF NEW ZEALAND, H.E. THE HON. ANAND SATYANAND
New Delhi, 9th September 2008
Your Excellency, The Honourable Anand Satyanand,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government, the people of India and on my own behalf, it gives me great pleasure to extend a warm and cordial welcome to Your Excellency and Madame Satyanand on your first State Visit to India. I also extend a hearty welcome to the distinguished members of your delegation.
Excellency, your visit to India is the first ever by a Governor-General from New Zealand. We look upon your visit as ushering in a new phase of cooperation in the India-New Zealand relationship.
Our two nations share an extraordinary convergence of values, ideals and concerns. We have demonstrated a remarkable degree of independence of spirit in defending and upholding democratic values that are vitally important to the family of nations. Both our nations are active participants in regional and international fora and have worked together in close cooperation in matters of mutual interest and concern. It is this affinity of values and aspirations that has enabled our peoples to come closer. The ease of blending of the significant Indian community with the New Zealand society, arises from a common appreciation of intrinsic human values.
We note with satisfaction a new momentum in our bilateral relations, especially since the visit of Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Helen Clark, to India in October 2004. The regular exchange of ministerial visits, the several agreements in operation for bilateral cooperation in education and information technology and high level official consultations have imparted a strong impetus to deepening and diversifying our bilateral relationship. The significant potential that bilateral investment, trade, tourism and the film industry hold, needs to be tapped and developed for mutual benefit.
It was an expression of the solidarity of our two peoples, that I had the privilege of conferring on late Sir Edmund Hillary, the Padma Vibhushan, one of India's highest civilian awards. We acknowledge, similarly, the magnanimous gesture of the City Council of Wellington, of the unveiling of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2 last year, the date dedicated by the UN General Assembly as the International Day of Non-Violence.
We recognise the imperatives of strengthening the UN system and other international organisations so that they are truly representative and reflective of contemporary reality, in order to address more effectively the political, social and economic challenges that confront the world community. In this context, India stands ready to shoulder greater responsibilities in the international arena.
Among the many challenges, terrorism and climate change are issues of enormous global consequence calling for thoughtful and prudent action. We acknowledge the expression of solidarity that New Zealand has extended to India in its steadfast struggle against the menace of terrorism.
India has adopted a strong national action plan on climate change so that carbon emissions remain within reasonable limits and our environment is protected. India's per-capita emissions are among the lowest in the world and India's carbon footprint is, indeed, small. India is committed to a path of sustainable development in harmony with its environment.
India's imperative, to maintain a high growth rate of its economy, to enhance the quality of life of our people and to generate employment for all, needs little emphasis. Internationally, nuclear energy has been acknowledged as a clean source for producing electricity with negligible environmental impact. To develop this sector, we have in place effective and comprehensive regimes, which meet the highest international standards. In this regard, India has always demonstrated a strong commitment to non-proliferation objectives and has an impeccable record. Thus nuclear energy can help us meet the challenges of economic development, energy security and climate change, simultaneously.
Excellency, I do hope that what you see and experience during this State visit will reinforce the image that you have of a vibrant India taking significant strides towards progress and prosperity, in harmony and constructive partnership with the community of nations. India has always been and will continue to be a nation that stands by its commitments. At no time in our history, have we been ever wanting in promoting the cause of peace, economic progress and stability in our journey of socio-economic development.
We wish to reaffirm India's abiding friendship and goodwill for the people of New Zealand and our commitment to building a stronger and more flourishing bilateral relationship.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I invite you to join me, in a toast to: -
- the health and well-being of Your Excellency and Madame Satyanand; and
- the close friendship and strong partnership between India and New Zealand.