BY SHRI K. R. NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR
OF MR. JACQUES
CHIRAC, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF FRANCE
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 25, 1998
the President of the
of France, Mr. Jacques Chirac,
a privilege to have you, Mr. President in our midst today. I would like
to extend a very warm welcome to you and to all the distinguished members
of your delegation.
destiny have linked India and France for centuries. The French travellers
Bernier and Tavernier took their vivid impressions of Moghul India back
to France; our artistic heritage, particularly the figure of the Nataraja
- Lord of Dance - struck a chord in your great sculptor Auguste Rodin,
as our philosophy did in Jules Michelet. The great thinker, Romain Rolland
recognized the genius of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma
Gandhi decades before others outside India.
For Sylvain Levi, the shining
star of French Indology, civilization was not the property of one continent
or culture. He advised his contemporaries to look beyond the "vieux
regime colonial". Andre Gide and Andre Malraux empathised, similarly
with the spirit of resurgent India. The principal architect of that
resurgence, Jawaharlal Nehru has written glowingly in several places
of the French Revolution and its impact on the history of the peoples
of the world.
tomorrow, on our Republic Day, we will celebrate the people of India;
we will celebrate the coming of our people into their own; the assumption
by the people of India of control over their destinies. The presence
of the President of the Republic of France as Chief Guest, at so important
an anniversary for us in 50th year of our Independence, is a visible
demonstration of the affinities we share in the realm of the great principles
and values of life as well as in the perception of our national interests
and our outlook on the world.
India is not new to you. We remember your visit to India in 1976, as
the Prime Minister of your great country. Your keen interest in various
aspects of Indian culture, its traditions and its civilisation is well
known to us.
we attach great importance to our relations with France which have always
been marked by mutual understanding and co-operation. Our understanding
has surmounted barriers of alignments and power blocs. We have been
able to work together and overcome the barriers that were created by
a world divided into blocs. This ability has helped our concrete co-operation
in a number of major fields, such as in the highest levels of technology,
including in the special areas of space and nuclear science.
India is to-day one of the largest markets of the world and it is estimated
that the middle class in India will be 500 million strong by A.D. 2025.
The country is being transformed by the communication revolution. And
everywhere there is evidence of change because Indians to-day want economic
progress and development in their life-time.
that these unfolding developments provide the basis for a much wider
and deeper economic interaction between India and France and, indeed,
with the European Union. We need, Mr. President, a wide range of technologies,
expertise and investments from France, for the strengthening of our
infrastructure as well as for other sectors of our rapidly developing
economy. In this context I am glad that the newly created Indo-French
Forum will oversee the provision of right inputs in order to upgrade
qualitatively our co-operation over the long term. I am also happy that
the European Union, which is our largest trade, investment and technology
partner and in which France is a leading force, has recently unveiled
a programme "Communication on India for Enhanced Partnership".
we have attached great importance to freedom of independent thought
and action in our international policies. The policy of non-alignment
that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru formulated was essentially an expression
of our independence in international relations. Like France we believe
in a pluralistic world where no nation or group of nations dominate
another. We are committed to co-operating with like-minded nations to
ensure that the emerging world order will rest on the principles of
democracy, equality, and non-discrimination, and that the United Nations
is restructured to reflect the realities of the world to-day.
you are aware that India, since Independence, has worked for world-peace
and disarmament and actively participated and made sacrifices in the
cause of peace under the auspices of the United Nations. We have attached
the highest priority to building bridges of understanding and to establishing
a system of friendship and co-operation with our neighbours. On the
sub-continent we are dedicated to building up SAARC as a factor of peace,
stability and progress in the region. Our ties with ASEAN are close
and meaningful, and we would like to establish an integral relationship
with APEC, a vast region, of which India is as much part as the other
countries associated with it. We are equally keen to strengthen our
historical links with the countries around the Indian Ocean and to make
the Indian Ocean Rim Association a success.
France and the great city of Paris which symbolizes a great part of
French culture have fascinated the Indian mind over the centuries. Your
architect, Le Corbusier has, through his great work in Chandigarh, brought
alive to us something of the creative character of your cities. As our
novelist-philosopher, Raja Rao has written : "Paris is somehow
not a city; it is an area in oneself." So is France, as a whole,
and the great values that France has signified down the centuries. We
have no doubt that your country has a momentous role to play in the
future, not only in Europe but in the world.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, request you to join me in raising
a toast: -
- to the
good health and happiness of the President of the French Republic, H.E.
Mr. Jacques Chirac;
- to the
progress and prosperity of the friendly people of France; and
- to a
renewed enrichment of the traditional friendship between India and France