BY SHRI K.R. NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF
MR. WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2000
Your Excellency Mr. William Jefferson Clinton,
of the United States of America,
and Distinguished Guests,
is with great pleasure, Mr. President, that I welcome you and the distinguished
members of your delegation, the honourable members of the US Congress
and high officials of the US Government, on behalf of the Government
and the people of India. We are aware that ever since your inauguration
as President, you have wanted to visit India. As a harbinger of your
intention, the First Lady of the United States, Madame Hillary Rodham
Clinton, paid a visit to India in March, 1995. We have pleasant memories
of that visit, and I should like to say that we miss her alongside you
on this occasion.
and the United States have been linked to each other by ideas, ideals
and by enlightened interests. These go far beyond and deeper than the
allurements of economics and trade and the entanglement of any military
alliance. For most Indians, the United States of America resonates with
the great names and the high ideals of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington,
Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, and the philosophy and thoughts
of outstanding American thinkers and writers like Emerson, Thoreau and
Walt Whitman who influenced great Indians like Vivekananda, Rabindranath
Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru and, of course, Mahatma Gandhi. The influence
of Gandhi on Martin Luther King Jr. in the struggle for equality by
the Blacks in America is well known, so much so that, when King was
shot, the whole world said that, "another Gandhi has been shot".
Mr. President, impulses greater than trade and commerce have linked
our two countries and peoples. In 1961, at a time when we were facing
critical issues, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to President
John F. Kennedy, saying that even if the United States did not give
anything, India would remain friendly to her. Expatiating on this idea,
Nehru wrote to the Chief Ministers of the Indian States some time earlier,
"Many people imagine that our relations with the United States depend
on the amount of financial aid that they can give us. This is a complete
misapprehension. Whether the U.S. gives us much or little or nothing
at all, our relations with them will not be affected much, provided
other factors are satisfactory. It is these other and political factors
that are constantly coming in the way."
A somewhat similar sentiment
was expressed by Mahatma Gandhi much earlier in 1936 when a group of
Christian workers from the U.S.A. met him. He said answering their questions:
"When Americans come and ask me what service they could render, I tell
them, if you dangle your millions before us, you will make beggars of
us, and demoralize us. But in one thing I don't mind being a beggar.
You can ask your engineers and agricultural experts to place their services
at our disposal. They must come to us not as lords and masters, but
as voluntary workers". Since Nehru and Gandhi gave expression to these
sentiments, the relations between our two countries in economics and
commerce and in the field of scientific exchanges have grown enormously
both in quality and quantity.
Millions of tons of wheat have been shipped
to India by the U.S.A., and American agricultural experts have helped
in igniting the Green Revolution which is one of the major achievements
of India since Independence. The U.S.A. has emerged to-day as the Number
One partner of India in the realms of trade and investment, and our
economic co-operation promises spectacular prospects for the good of
our two countries and the world. I must mention here the contributions
of over one million people of Indian origin resident in America, who
have made substantial contributions to the country of their adoption
and to co-operation between the U.S. and India.
there is no gainsaying that in the Cold War period, our relations were
bedevilled by military alignment and the ideological bloc politics and
the difficulty, in that age of extremes, on the part of the United States
in appreciating India's policy of non-alignment and peaceful co-existence.
The mindset of the Cold War has perhaps not entirely disappeared. Vestiges
of the Cold War strategies still return to haunt the world. We believe,
Mr. President, that in the post Cold-War world the non-aligned concept
of a pluralistic world order is more relevant than the politics of military
blocs and alignments. At this juncture I recall the words of Jawaharlal
Nehru, who on assuming office in 1946 said: "We send our greetings to
the people of the United States of America to whom destiny has given
a major role in international affairs.
We trust this tremendous responsibility
will be utilized for the furtherance of peace and human freedom everywhere."
Prime Minister Nehru had enjoyed a warm equation with President Eisenhower
and, years later, with President John F. Kennedy. Of the latter Nehru
said: "Wealth and prosperity came to his country. To these, President
Kennedy added a deeper human and moral outlook which embraced in its
scope the peoples of the world." It is a measure of your own far-sightedness,
Mr. President, that you too have thrown your great energy for the advancement
of developing nations. You have also striven to turn a major challenge
in our bilateral relationship into an opportunity that both sides have
President, one remarkable feature of the post Cold War world is this
emergence of a large number of developing nations on the political and
economic arena of the world. And the other dominant fact is the emergence
of the United States of America as the major economic, technological
and military factor in the world. The U.S.A. holds 'a tremendous responsibility'
for strengthening peace and stability in the world. For that purpose
the United Nations Organization should be strengthened and made the
centre-piece of the new global architecture. We believe, Mr. President,
that the United Nations can be strengthened by the unstinting support
of the United States of America, and by reforming its major organs by
giving the developing countries of the world their due place in its
central structure, reflecting the realities of the world to-day.
believe that among the developing nations, India has, in terms not only
of its immense size and population, its economic and technological status
and potentialities, but in terms of its great services to the cause
of the U.N., every right to be represented on a reformed and expanded
Security Council. Throughout its independent history, especially in
the early years when the U.N. itself was under jeopardy, India had served
the cause of the world body.
President, we do recognize and welcome the fact that the world has been
moving inevitably towards a one-world. From the earliest times India
has had the intimations of an emerging one-world, of humanity as a single
family. But for us, globalization does not mean the end of history and
geography, and of the lively and exciting diversities of the world.
As an African statesman has observed to us, the fact that the world
is a global village does not mean that it will be run by one village
In this age of democracy it will be headed by a panchayat.
For us the United Nations is the global panchayat, and that is why we
want it to be democratized and sustained. Globalization means that global
society should be sustained by its units - the nation, states, groups,
families and individuals who have their own inextinguishable identities
and unique characteristics. Long ago Mahatma Gandhi described his vision
of a one world in the following manner: "The better mind of the world
desires to-day not absolutely independent States, but a federation of
friendly inter-dependent States. .............. I desire the ability
to be totally independent, without asserting the independence".
such a globalised world society there would be no place for war, for
hegemonistic controls or cut-throat competition. India, Mr. President,
is a country that has wrested its independence from one of the mightiest
empires on earth by the method of non-violence. It is not the desire
of this nation to solve such problems as we have with our neighbours
by the use of force. With Pakistan, which was carved out of our body-politic,
it was our desire to have friendly co-operation in a hundred ways after
partition. But if India's integrity and independence is threatened,
it becomes the duty of the Indian State, -- its duty to the one-billion
people who inhabit our vast land -- to defend them with all the resources
and strength at its disposal. We are open to dialogue and to peaceful
settlement of differences. But should they have the divine right of
aggression and of indiscriminate and well organized terrorism across
the international borders or the agreed line of control sanctified by
solemn treaties and commitments? It has been suggested that the Indian
sub-continent is the most dangerous place in the world to-day and Kashmir
is a nuclear flash-point.
These alarmist descriptions will only encourage
those who want to break the peace and indulge in terrorism and violence.
The danger is not from us who have declared solemnly that we will not
be the first to use nuclear weapons; but rather it is from those who
refuse to make any such commitment. We are publicly committed to the
abolition of nuclear weapons together with other nuclear powers who
possess them in awesome stockpiles capable of destroying the world many
times over. India does not threaten any other country and will not engage
in an arms race. But India will maintain a minimum credible nuclear
deterrent - no more and no less - for her own security. We continue
to be anxious to work with the USA to prevent the spread of weapons
of mass destruction and to promote the goal of a world free of weapons
of mass destruction.
this historic and auspicious occasion of your visit to India, Mr. President,
let us appeal to the world to take steps -- concrete and substantive
-- towards nuclear disarmament along with non-proliferation so that
we do not consolidate the existing inequalities and sanctify the possession
of Nuclear weapons in the armouries of the nations.
Mr. President, your visit provides us an opportunity to lay the foundations for a new, dynamic and multifaceted partnership between our great democratic nations. Our peoples now expect us to advance our relationship based on a shared commitment to peace and democracy, reinforced by our growing mutuality of interests in the political, economic and technological fields, and by an increasing convergence of our world view. This will require us to remain engaged in frank dialogue on the lines described by Henry David Thoreau: "It takes two to speak the truth - one to speak and another to hear."
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I now invite you to join me in proposing a toast to:
- the good health and well being of the President of the United States of America, Mr. William Jefferson Clinton;
- the abiding friendship between the peoples of India and the United States of America;
- the success of our joint endeavours for peace and justice in the world.