SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE UNION OF MYANMAR, H.E. U THEIN SEIN
New Delhi, 14th October 2011
Your Excellency U Thein Sein,
President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar,
Madame Khin Khin Win,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to extend to Your Excellency and to Madame Khin Khin Win a very warm welcome to India. It is a momentous occasion to receive the leader of a neighbouring country with whom India shares historic bonds. Our joy is redoubled as you come to India soon after assuming the Presidency of the newly elected Government.
The relationship between India and Myanmar has stood the test of time. We have deep and abiding historical, cultural, religious and societal bonds. We also have the shared experience of our respective independence movements where our leaders fought against and succeeded in ending British colonial rule. We rejoiced when Myanmar attained independence. This achievement was aptly described by our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as, "an event of significance to the whole of Asia." Both our Governments pursued non-aligned and independent foreign policies in the decades following our independence.
The Buddhist legacy we share has brought us closer. Tradition has it that Emperor Ashoka sent two monks, Sona and Uttara, to Suvarna-bhumi, the golden land of Myanmar. They went as messengers of peace, friendship and goodwill. The legacy of Buddhism has bequeathed to us a common heritage, imparting an enduring quality to our interaction.
India's 'Look East' Policy has in practical terms been a voyage of rediscovery. We are engaged in rejuvenating the historical, cultural and commercial bonds between India and Southeast Asia. When we look eastwards, we first see Myanmar. You occupy a central place in our vision and approach of rebuilding our Eastern connections. Our bilateral relationship is a factor of peace and stability for the region and has an important bearing on initiatives for regional co-operation. We share common interests in security and border management. We should assign special attention to the economic progress of the areas along the border between our two countries. Myanmar would then truly emerge as our gateway to ASEAN, and we hope India can act as your bridge to the entire South Asian Region.
Today, Myanmar stands at the dawn of a new era in its history. You have brought about significant changes in your political system by introducing a Constitutional government, with features of parliamentary democracy. We applaud these efforts. In these early days of your Presidency, you have also emphasized the rule of law and good governance. You have further indicated your Government will be putting in place a market economy while also focusing on agricultural development.
As a close and well disposed neighbour, we remain willing to offer any assistance in implementing these steps. We share your desire for a democratic, stable and prosperous Myanmar. We support your aim of revitalizing the agricultural base of your country, building up industrial centres and enhancing educational capacities. We will extend a hand of assistance to your endeavours.
Excellency, you began your visit to India by paying a visit to the holiest of Buddhist sites, Bodhgaya, on the auspicious Full Moon Day of Thadingyut, which is an auspicious day in the Buddhist calendar. I take this opportunity to convey my good wishes to you and to the people of Myanmar.
Our discussions today have been fruitful. We have signed agreements and launched many new initiatives. It will be our endeavour to take our bilateral relations to new heights. Your visit has opened a new and more dynamic chapter in our bilateral ties.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I now request you to join me in a toast: -
- to the health and happiness of His Excellency President U Thein Sein and Madame Khin Khin Win;
- to the progress and prosperity of the friendly people of Myanmar; and
- to the continuing friendship and co-operation between India and Myanmar.