SPEECH BY SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, AT BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF MEXICO MR. FELIPE CALDERON
New Delhi, 10th September 2007
Your Excellency, President Felipe Calderon,
Distinguished members of the Mexican delegation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
am delighted to welcome you to India.
We have great admiration for Mexico, a country which has a rich heritage, vibrant democracy and pluralistic culture. The Mayan and Aztec civilizations of Mexico have enriched mankind. As the largest Spanish speaking country in the world, Mexico has influenced and inspired the culture, art, music and films of Latin America. Diego Rivera, Frida and Octavio Paz are well recognized and admired in India.
We are especially delighted to welcome you, Mr. President, since the visit is taking place 21 years after the last high-level visits. In this period, India has undergone a paradigm shift. It has become the fastest growing free market democracy in the world. India has achieved success in Information Technology and is gearing itself to be among the forefront of the emerging "knowledge and information society". The Indian manufacturing sector is becoming globally competitive. The new generation of young Indians has a mindset that is marked by optimism, confidence and a can-do attitude. They are determined to seize the opportunities arising from globalization.
Relations between our two countries have always been friendly and cordial. The time has come for us to give them fresh substance and depth in the new contemporary environment. There are synergies and complementarities waiting to be exploited. Our bilateral cooperation in Science and Technology, agriculture, trade, investment, energy, small and medium industries, culture and education must be significantly stepped up. We must also open up new areas of cooperation. Your visit provides us the opportunity to do this.
Trade between our two countries has been increasing rapidly in recent years and reached $1.8 billion in 2006. We expect this to touch $5 billion by 2010. There are enormous opportunities for investment and joint ventures between the two countries.
Indian business considers Mexico not only as a big market in itself but also as a gateway to the markets of NAFTA and Central America. It is our expectation that Mexican companies would also take advantage of the opportunities offered by the large and growing market of India.
We must also revive the cultural and intellectual interaction between our two countries. Pandurang Khankhoje, an Indian freedom fighter, was Professor of Botany and Crop Breeding in the National School of Agriculture in Mexico. He established the "Free School of Agriculture". He met Pandit Nehru in 1949 as an emissary of the President of Mexico, leading to the establishment of diplomatic relations. The famous revolutionary leader M.N. Roy and the Indian artist Satish Gujral have also lived in Mexico and drawn inspiration. The former Mexican Ambassador to India Octavio Paz made invaluable contribution to Indo-Mexican understanding and cultural dialogue through his poems and writings.
Excellency, our two countries have had fruitful cooperation in the past on regional and international issues. We have worked together on issues of nuclear disarmament and South-South Cooperation. We both condemn terrorism unequivocally. Terrorism is not justified under any circumstances and the international community must unitedly fight this scourge that threatens international peace and security and seeks to undermine free and democratic societies.
Our cooperation continues in the contemporary context, including on matters pertaining to reform and democratization of the United Nations to make it representative of current realities. We must also unite in efforts to bring about a successful conclusion of the Doha Development Round of the WTO so as to ensure that the developmental requirements of the developing countries are fully met. Our collaboration on issues such as climate change and energy security must be strengthened.
Distance separates us but our worldviews are similar. This enables us to find common ground to address issues confronting us. We look forward to strengthening such cooperation.
Excellency, during your current state visit to India, the determination of our two countries to give depth and greater substance to our relationship is reflected in our agreement to establish between our two countries a Privileged Partnership. It will be our endeavour that this Partnership flourishes to the benefit of our two peoples.
In conclusion, may I propose a toast: -
- to the health of the President of Mexico and Madam Calderon,
- to the prosperity of the Mexican people, and
- to greater friendship and cooperation between India and Mexico.