SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF FRANCE, MR. NICOLAS SARKOZY
New Delhi, 25th January 2008
Your Excellency President Sarkozy,
Distinguished Members of your Delegation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with the greatest of pleasure that I extend to you, Mr. President and to your distinguished delegation, a very warm welcome from the Government and the people of India. Your State visit is a testament to our mutual desire to renew and to strengthen the friendly ties and partnership between our two countries. We value your presence here today and are honoured to have you as the Chief Guest of our Republic Day celebrations. We look at your visit as an important milestone in the effort of our two countries to further strengthen our Strategic Partnership.
Our two nations share a profound commitment to the values of freedom and human dignity. 'Liberty, equality and fraternity' the slogan of revolutionaries everywhere from the time of the French Revolution, also influenced the leaders of India's freedom struggle and democratic construction. It is now for us to revitalize this common heritage in the search for a more just and equitable world order.
As a vibrant democracy of more than one billion people, India takes pride in its multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious milieu. Indeed for us - a democratic ethos infuses the life of the Indian nation and gives inspiration and opportunity to our people, just as it does to yours. It is through respect for plurality and democracy that India celebrates its unity in diversity. It is the commitment to human values that enable us to live with both continuity and change.
We share your belief that the institutions and structures that marked life in the 20th century are outdated. France and India have very similar visions of how they would like to see the world of the 21st century take shape. A vision that is in keeping with the deep pride and confidence that both our countries feel on account of their rich cultural heritage and independent decision making. It also reflects a shared belief in a rule based, multi-polar and a just world.
We appreciate your call for greater inclusiveness in global institutions. We deeply appreciate France's constant support for the permanent membership of India in the UN Security Council. France is an important partner in the context of India's interaction with the G-8 and the European Union. We look forward to working closely with France during its Presidency of the European Union in the latter half of 2008.
India is well placed to be a bridge between the developed and developing countries and to contribute to dealing with global challenges as well as global opportunities of our era.
We seek, what Nobel Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen - who you know well - describes as, a "humane globalization" that will make knowledge available to all and enable millions of men and women to achieve economic development. I am confident that we can work together on the technologies, institutions and human resources, to develop synergies necessary to shape a better future for all humankind.
Cultural and intellectual ties bind us closely and are vital. The magnificent exhibition of Gupta era sculptures in Paris last year received a warm response. The vibrant exchanges between our Universities, institutes of higher learning, scholars, artists and intellectuals are of great importance. We hope that an Indian Cultural Centre will be established in Paris before long.
Excellency, your belief in opening and in adapting to change is most significant not only for your own nation and for Europe but as a template for a world in transition. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, our first Prime Minister, said "I am proud of India not only because of her ancient, magnificent heritage but also because of her remarkable capacity to add to it by keeping the doors and windows of her mind and spirit open to fresh and invigorating winds from distant lands." In the common endeavour of fostering a more open and cooperative world you can count on India as a partner.
In conclusion, may I propose a toast:
- to the health and prosperity of His Excellency President Nicolas Sarkozy;
- to the progress and prosperity of the friendly people of France; and
- to the growing friendship and cooperation between India and France.