International Affairs


Your Excellency President Herzog,

Frau Herzog,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My wife and I, and members of our delegation, thank Your Excellency and Frau Herzog, for your warm welcome and for this gracious hospitality.

It is a real pleasure for us to be in Germany and to see for ourselves the definitive steps being taken, after your historic re-unification, to weld the German nation together.

Your Excellency, we greatly admire the remarkable all round success achieved in the past five decades by Germany.

On attaining our freedom fifty years ago, India, under the inspiration of Mahatma Gandhi, and Jawaharlal Nehru, has evolved a unique political and social system harmonizing our multiple diversities into a vibrant democracy that has stood the test of time.

Germany and India, Your Excellency, are two societies that have long cherished a life of the mind and a life of free, intellectual enquiry.

After his visit to the Federal Republic of Germany in l956, our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said to the Indian Parliament: (Quote) "There is a traditional bond of sympathy and goodwill between our two countries. Germany's interest in Indian thought and culture, and her most recent cooperation in our development plans have helped greatly in building an appreciation and understanding of each other among our peoples which, I trust, will continue to grow...that will not only be to our mutual advantage but also, I feel, in the interest of world peace and progress." (Unquote)

India and Germany share centuries' old cultural interactions personified by Hermann Gundert, who published the first Malayalam-English dictionary, Georg Foster who translated Kalidasa's Sakuntala into German, Schopenhauer, who was greatly influenced by Indian philosophy and Schlegel who laid the foundations for Sanskrit studies in Germany. And as for Max Mueller, he is so well known in India that we need to remind ourselves of the fact that he is a German scholar and not one of our own interpreters of ancient Indian texts.

Your Excellency, Germany was among the first countries to establish trade links with India as far back as in the l6th century. In the subsequent centuries, these exchanges have intensified and to-day, Germany is India's largest trading partner in Europe and the second largest in the world. Our exchanges are as wide in their range, as they are deep in their impact, encompassing the fields of science, technology, trade and industry. This year we will be taking our space cooperation into a higher trajectory with the launch of a German satellite from an Indian Launch Vehicle. And at the other end of the geographic spectrum, India is about to use German technology in deep sea mining for polymetallic nodules.

Notwithstanding the fact that India's population has trebled in the last five decades, we have become and remain self-sufficient in food. Similarly, our industrial base has grown and diversified, on the wheels of scientific and technological research as well as applications. Over the last decade, India has embarked on a course of major economic reforms. Our economy now offers vast opportunities for investment and one of the biggest markets in the world to our global partners. Our strong socio-economic foundations have enabled us, Your Excellency, to stave off the financial crises that have assailed East and South-East Asia.

The EU, with constructive pragmatism, has set in position varying regimes of cooperation and agreements with the rest of the world. We believe India and the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) can feature in EU's world economic strategising, to our mutual advantage.

Your Excellency, despite the end of the Cold War, which marked a watershed in the history of the 20th Century, a peaceful, just and cooperative world order remains elusive. The relative order that has been arrived at in Europe has not been replicated in other parts of the globe.

India's decision to test its nuclear capability was forced upon us by our security environment and by the discriminatory nuclear regime which consolidates nuclear weapons in the hands of a group of countries, while denying that option to other countries. Your Excellency, our commitment to a world free of weapons of mass destruction remains firm. We have announced a voluntary moratorium on further underground nuclear tests and have declared that we will never be the first to use nuclear weapons. We will work for a Nuclear Weapons Convention as part of our priority commitment to global nuclear disarmament.

Your Excellency, India and Germany need to strategise together on a variety of areas, including those that concern humanity, and which Kant has summed up so beautifully as "the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me."

May I thank Your Excellency once again for your gracious hospitality and request you Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen to join me in a toast:

- to the health and happiness of His Excellency the President of the Federal Republic of Germany and Frau Herzog;
- to the continued prosperity of the people of Germany; and
- to the growing friendship and cooperation between India and Germany.

Thank you

Jai Hind