BY SHRI K.R. NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA,
AT THE RECEPTION BY THE CITY OF LUXEMBOURG
LUXEMBOURG, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 1998
Your Royal Highness the
Your Royal Highness the
Madame la Bourgmestre,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to thank you,
Madame la Bourgmestre, for the warmth of your welcome and for the sentiments
of friendship expressed by you. I consider it an honour that the Grand Duke
and the Grand Duchess have also chosen to grace this occasion.
It is a privilege to
be in your city which so artfully blends the riches of its historic past
with the efficient amenities of modern urban life. Its unique architectural
grandeur and historical charm have captivated all its visitors and we are
no exception. Historically, Luxembourg has been at the very heart of Europe
and remains so, today, as the capital of a very vibrant European Union.
A noble son of the city,
Robert Schuman, one of the founders of the present European institutional
architecture made a unique contribution to the traditional role of Luxembourg.
Quite in keeping with this national genius, your city, Madame la Bourgmestre,
now represents a post-industrial society at the vanguard of the technological
progress taking place in Europe.
I am also delighted to
be at the City Hall and to have the opportunity to familiarise myself with
the functioning of the City institutions and the operation of democracy
at the local level. India too has very old traditions of local self-government.
The panchayat system in ancient India was democracy at the grassroots functioning
on the basis of consensus. In a modernized form this old institution to-day
finds place in our Constitution for the governance of our villages, towns
and cities. You would be interested to know that in India more than three
million representatives of the people are elected to local bodies - villages,
towns and cities - on the basis of adult franchise of which, according to
a constitutional provision, one-third are women. They keep our democracy
alive and vibrant, and provide the crucial consensus that exists even in
coalition politics, establishing a political kinship with Luxembourg and
other countries in Europe.
India's economic parameters
remain strong despite the recent turbulence in our Asian neighbourhood.
An indication of such strength was recently evident when non-resident Indians
from all over the world came forward enthusiastically, within a matter of
weeks, to invest in 'Resurgent India Bonds' to the tune of over US dollars
4 billion. India offers excellent opportunities for foreign investment,
which provides a basis for our relationship to be mutually enriching. Our
entrepreneurs would be happy to avail the impressive and sophisticated capital
and technological base in your city.
I am pleased to learn
that more and more Indian visitors are coming to Luxembourg. This is a trend
worth actively encouraging as such interaction would go a long way in enhancing
mutual understanding between our two peoples. I am also happy to know that
the Indian community here, though small, is making a useful contribution
to Luxembourgeois society in diverse ways.
The contemporary international
environment holds promise for the future in terms of greater freedom, economic
well being and the utilisation of the capabilities of our people to the
fullest. We cannot, however, be unmindful of the dangers posed by globalisation
such as that of international terrorism and criminal networks straddling
countries and continents. Given this background, it is of importance that
dialogue between democratic, liberal and transparent societies is maintained
and further strengthened. We must enrich further the warm relationship that
exists between our two countries. I see in the warmth of the reception accorded
here today, promises of greater cooperation and friendship between us.