International Affairs


Your Excellency President Nathan,

Mrs. Nathan,

Distinguished Singaporean Friends,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me, my wife and my delegation to be in this beautiful country and in this vibrant city of Singapore. We are touched, Mr. President, by the warm reception and the gracious hospitality extended to us by your Government and people, and particularly by you, Mr. President and the First Lady, Mrs. Nathan.

Our two countries have been linked together by history and geography. We have had maintained maritime, commercial and cultural exchanges for centuries. We have had common experiences under colonial rule and we have struggled and travelled together the road to freedom and independence.

We had always looked to Singapore as the heart of South East Asia. It is in South East Asia that the two great Asian civilizations of China and India met each other in history and interacted with each other, not in a so-called clash of civilizations, but in mutual understanding and in peaceful co-existence. To-day Singapore has emerged as a dynamic, stable and tolerant and multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-lingual society and nation, that can be a model for the rest of Asia and indeed for the world. India too, Mr. President, has evolved as a stable pluralistic society in which tolerance is the master-principle that binds a vast and diverse population into a coherent and stable nation. We are proud of this accomplishment of ours as much as we admire your accomplishment in nation-building. At the same time both our countries have been engaged in the adventure of economic and social development through peaceful democratic means. Singapore to-day is a vibrant modern economy. In the words of your first Prime Minister, H.E. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore has transformed itself from a third world country into first world country. This transformation is nothing short of a miracle. I congratulate you on this remarkable achievement. India too has been striving to uplift our one-billion people from the state of underdevelopment to that of modern development. We have not reached that stage yet. But we have been passing, especially during the last ten years, through a period of liberalization and opening up of our economy to the world. We have already registered considerable measure of success in our efforts, though a good deal remains yet to be accomplished. Indian economy is reckoned to-day among the five fastest growing economies of the world, and our GNP is rated as the fifth largest in the world. We have attained some remarkable successes in the field of science and technology, especially in the realm of information technology and software. In this new stage of development we look upon Singapore as an appropriate partner in economic and commercial co-operation. Since the visit to India of your Prime Minister Excellency Mr. Goh Chok Tong, the bilateral co-operation between our two countries has gathered considerable momentum. To-day I had the opportunity of witnessing with you, Mr. President, the signing of two agreements between our two countries in the field of cultural co-operation, and an important memorandum on economic co-operation. I believe that these agreements will open up wider avenues of economic and cultural co-operation between India and Singapore.

We look upon our co-operation with Singapore as the gateway to larger co-operation with South East Asia, East Asia and the Asia-Pacific. And in turn, we shall be happy to offer you the technological expertise we have developed as well as our vast and expanding market which has now opened up to the world.

Mr. President, as you are aware, India has been traditionally interested in peace in our region and in the world. We have made sincere efforts to enhance our international co-operation at all levels and in all directions. This year alone we have engaged at the highest levels in cordial exchanges with China, the United States, and Russia, and participated in the first ever India – E.U. Summit meeting. In our immediate neighbourhood also we have developed good and mutually beneficial relations. But we have been vigilant in combating the new menace of international terrorism and of the fundamentalist forces seeking to subvert the unity and stability of established nations. We are prepared to travel any extent to face these challenges and establish peaceful and harmonious relations with our neighbours.

May I, Mr. President, say a few words before I end to thank the Government of Singapore for the consistent support they have given to us for our association as a full dialogue partner of ASEAN and a member of ARF, and their efforts to include India in the APEC as well as with ASEM. I believe that India’s destiny is intertwined with that of the South East Asia region of which Singapore is an important part.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I now invite you to join me in a toast:

to the health and well being of President Nathan and Mrs. Nathan;
to the happiness and prosperity of the people of Singapore, and
to the friendship between India and Singapore.

Thank you

Jai Hind