SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET HOSTED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED MEXICO STATES, H.E. MR. FELIPE DE JESUS CALDERON
Mexico City, 17th April 2008
Your Excellency President Felipe de Jesus Calderon,
Madam Margarita Zavala de Calderon,
Ladies & Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here in Mexico, a country that India has historically considered a friend. Our freedom fighters took refuge in your land. Indians gratefully remember the contribution of Mexico's 'Sonara' variety of wheat to our Green Revolution decades ago. The first Ambassador of Mexico to India and Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz is a respected figure in my country. The first Indian Ambassador to Mexico was Mrs. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, sister of the first Prime Minister of India. Mexico's cultural richness, the struggle for freedom and the sacrifices of its leaders like Father Miguel Hidalgo and Father Jose Morelos find deep resonance in India. Mexico, like India, is a cradle of ancient civilizations, including those of the Mayan and the Aztec.
Excellency, during your landmark visit to India last September, we rightly elevated the relationship between our two countries to the status of a 'Privileged Partnership'. It is a partnership that is based not just on our commonalities in the past, but on the vision that we share for the future for our bilateral relations and also for the world.
During your visit last year, we had the first meeting of the High Level Group on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation and I am glad to note that the Group will meet again in June this year. It is important that they draw up a roadmap for the rapid development of our trade and economic relationship.
I am glad to note that Indian investments into Mexico have been growing steadily. We encourage this trend and look forward to similar enthusiasm on the part of Mexican investors to enter the Indian market. There are tremendous opportunities in the areas of infrastructure and tourism, just to mention two of the potential areas that can be exploited by Mexican entrepreneurs. We welcome investments being made by Mexican companies in India.
Last year, when you chose India to be the first country to be visited in Asia, we were delighted. As the largest democracy in the world, we have great admiration for the vibrancy of Mexico's democracy. The democratic yearnings of our two countries, our faith in non-violence and dialogue; the pluralistic and secular credentials of our polities make us natural allies in facing the global challenges of today. We have had cooperation in the past in international fora, be it the UN or the WTO, and on issues like Climate Change, the Doha trade negotiations and the fight against terrorism. It is critical that our two countries continue to display even greater harmony in the coming days. Mexico is the largest Spanish speaking country in the world with enviable democratic credentials, and India is the largest democracy in the world. Our voices will no doubt be heard with respect when we speak in harmony.
Excellency, tomorrow I will visit the Pyramids in Teotihuacan. They stand as sentinels of your ancient civilization and rich heritage. I will also have the opportunity of visiting the sacred Basilica of Guadalupe, a symbol of the confluence of tradition and faith with modernity. Ours are both ancient civilizations. We must, therefore, encourage greater cultural interaction and exchange between us to learn from each others' past.
Tomorrow, I will also be paying tribute to the memory of India's Father of the Nation, and the apostle of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, at his statue near the Anthropology Museum. This is a signal of the esteem in Mexico for Mahatma Gandhi and his values. We convey our appreciation for this.
Excellency, let me take this opportunity to thank you and your Government for the warm hospitality that my delegation and I have received since our arrival.
May I now request all present to join me in a toast to:
- the good health and well-being of the President of the United Mexican States and Madam Margarita Zavala de Calderon,
- the prosperity and well-being of the people of Mexico, and
- Por la amistad entre India y Mexico.
(to the friendship between India and Mexico)