SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA, H.E. MR. YOWERI MUSEVENI
New Delhi, 10th April 2008
Your Excellency President Museveni,
Madam Janet Museveni,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you and Madam Janet Museveni on your state visit to India.
India's contacts with Uganda date back to the last years of the 19th century, when thousands of Indian labourers were brought to Uganda in the colonial period to build the railway line from Mombasa to Kampala. On its completion in 1901, most returned to India, but some stayed on, and in time became successful traders, farmers and entrepreneurs.
In modern times, India's relations with Africa have been defined by Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Mahatma Gandhi laid the foundations of India's struggle against apartheid and colonialism in South Africa in 1893. Pandit Nehru made that struggle a plank of India's foreign policy after independence. These ideas found deep resonance in Africa, when it was fighting its own battle against colonial rule. The bonds forged between India and Africa during their struggle for independence constitute a solid foundation for our partnership, which has grown stronger over the years.
Since your last State visit in 1992, much has changed in Uganda and Africa as it has in India. We greatly appreciate your decision to attend the India-Africa Forum Summit and have benefited from your contribution on how India and Africa can work together in meeting the socio-economic challenges of the 21st century. We have always been partners in African development and we wish to be part of Africa's new resurgence. We are grateful for your expression of solidarity and the warm words for India and our role in Africa.
For over two decades, you have given leadership to Uganda with which India and Indians have enjoyed long-standing links. We appreciate your support to the Indian Diaspora, which is contributing in good measure to the development of the Ugandan economy.
Uganda today is seen in Africa and elsewhere as a country that has enjoyed stability and economic growth for over two decades. You have brought down poverty levels significantly, while improving access to primary education and healthcare. Today, Uganda is playing a major role in the African Union, the East African Community, the Commonwealth and other forums. It is also contributing troops for peacekeeping in the region. The successful hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting last November has expanded Uganda's role beyond Africa, into other parts of the world. This is a tribute to your leadership, which has transformed Uganda into a dynamic nation.
It has always been India's endeavour to participate meaningfully in the socio-economic development process in Uganda. Our trade and investment partnership is developing well. We are happy that Uganda has decided to join the Pan-Africa e-network. The 4 Hole-in-the-Wall Projects, which are intended as learning stations for the under-privileged sections of society by providing unrestricted computer access to groups of children in an open playground setting, have already been set up in Uganda. Our pharmaceutical companies are collaborating well with your efforts to attack the scourge of HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our cooperation in capacity and institution building is being sustained. We are happy that a very large number of students from Uganda are studying in Indian education institutions.
It is a matter of satisfaction that the Indian and Ugandan corporate sectors are engaged in a sincere and serious endeavour to enhance the level of trade and investment flows. Your presence at the CII/EXIM Bank Project Partnership Conclave in Kampala in June 2007 and the presence of your Ministerial delegation at the Conclave in Delhi last month bodes well in this context. I hope our announcement of the unilateral tariff preference scheme for Least Developed Countries by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at the India-Africa Forum Summit will help further boost our trade and investment partnership.
Our two countries have a good tradition of cooperating in multilateral fora. We face common challenges such as terrorism against which we have zero-tolerance and which require greater cooperation and more comprehensive action by the international community. We are working together on issues of Climate Change and the Doha Development Round of the WTO. In the case of both these important negotiations, our effort is to ensure that development in developing countries is ensured. We cannot accept solutions which perpetuate poverty in developing countries.
Our two countries are also working together on the important issue of United Nations reform, especially reform of the UN Security Council. No reform of the Security Council would be complete without adequate representation from Africa.
Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are committed to strengthening our partnership with Uganda, both bilaterally and with the economic communities of Africa of which Uganda is a member.
Distinguished guests, may I request you to join me in a toast to:
- the good health and personal well being of President and Madame Museveni;
- the continued progress and prosperity of the friendly people of Uganda;
- and everlasting friendship between India and Uganda.