International Affairs


Dr. Alberto Andrade Carmona, The Mayor of Lima, Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

I am touched by the warmth of your welcome and the sentiments of appreciation that you have expressed about India. I thank you for these and for the honour bestowed on me today, which I will always cherish. It is a privilege, Mr. Mayor, to be in this city of resplendent history, whose fame has long been known to us in India. We have admired the elegance of its setting and the pride the people of Lima take in its history, its beauty and its liveliness.

I am aware that in the seventeenth century, Lima was the largest city in South America, with a population of 30,000, the hub of official business, trade, military activities, and religious affairs of the immense viceroyalty of Peru, stretching from Panama to Argentina. It is particularly befitting that this lovely city should have been declared a cultural patrimony of humanity by UNESCO in l99l.

But while it is true that the city has had a glorious past, it is not only with the pride of its past that Lima greets the visitor of today. The city bespeaks the imperatives of the present and a positive, confident outlook for the future.

A distinguished Indian architect recently observed: "The city - any city - always seems to show its best face from a distance." That is not true of Lima and may I compliment the Mayor and his colleagues on the high standards of city-care practised here. Lima, I am delighted but not surprised to see, is now a throbbing metropolis of seven million people. Similarly, the big cities of India, New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai and Bangalore, have developed into metropolises each with populations of approaching ten, and sometimes exceeding ten million. Ours is undoubtedly the age of the large city, the megapolis where buildings rise and water tables fall; where populations increase and services struggle to keep in step; where Mayors and City Corporators face a running battle against Time's "unforgiving minute".

This spectacular growth and change, has created new realities. There is the unrelenting quest of thousands of migrants from our villages, in both countries, each in search for a house of their own, for employment, and for a bright future for their children.

Mr. Mayor, it is necessary for our cities to develop more contacts and interaction. In South America, the urban population is 70 % to 75 % of the total; in India it is in the region of 25 %. But the percentage is growing, making it essential that we share our experiences in development and provide for exchanges between local level leadership, municipalities, and various experts who are working in the areas of education, health, environmental management, sanitation and infrastructure development. I hope that in the near future, we will prepare a blueprint for such a relationship.

Mr. Mayor, may I conclude by saying that the goals of our development, national, urban and rural, are similar: the abolition of poverty and the ushering in of an era of prosperity for all. Our cities must regard this as an enterprise of the highest moment.

Thank you

Jai Hind