BY SHRI K R NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF
HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH-II AND HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH
NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 30, 1997
Your Royal Highness,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have great pleasure, on behalf of the Government and the people of
India, to extend to Your Majesty and Your Royal Highness the Duke of
Edinburgh, a warm and cordial welcome to India. You have come at an
important and joyous juncture of our history when we are celebrating
the 50th Anniversary of our Independence. Your gracious presence amongst
us at this time brings back to us memories of the sense of liberation
and reconciliation that pervaded the first days of our independence.
By a happy co-incidence this is also the golden jubilee year of Your
Majestys marriage. May I be permitted to extend to Your Majesty
and Your Royal Highness our warm congratulations.
This is your third visit to India. You must have observed that the esteem,
affection, and the depth of feeling for Your Majesty personally, and
for your family, on the part of the people of India, have only increased
with each visit.
Your Majesty must have also observed the profound changes that have
taken place in India during the years after Independence. India to-day
is a dynamic and modernizing economy having released its pent-up energies
for the rapid development of the country and having opened up to the
world, while keeping to the path of basic self-reliance and holding
on to its cultural moorings. I am glad to say that Indo-British relations
have kept pace with this changing situation. To-day these relations
are stronger and more broad-based than ever before. Britain is a major
partner for us whether it is in the field of trade, investment, finance,
science and technology, defence or cultural co-operation. The Exhibition
Indo-British Partnership - Towards 2000 and the Exhibition of Treasures
from the British Museum being inaugurated during Your Majestys
visit bear witness to this multi-faceted co-operation between our two
countries. As one of the worlds largest markets and as an emerging
economic power India is a suitable and reliable partner for Britain
which is one of the great developed countries of the world. I believe
that the present visit of Your Majesty is an assurance of the enduring
nature of this Indo - British partnership.
What gives Indo - British relations inherent vitality and larger significance
are the values of freedom, democracy, secularism and social justice
that we share. It is my sincere belief that these deeper affinities
deserve due weightage in the policies we follow towards each other and
in the world.
Your Majesty, we belong to the Commonwealth of Nations, a unique institution
in the transformation of which in its modern form, India has had much
to do. We appreciate the role played by the British monarchy in helping
to hold the Commonwealth together as a contemporary force in world politics.
India is looking forward to the forthcoming meeting of the Commonwealth
Heads of Government in Edinburgh towards the end of this month.
Your Majesty, India to-day is a country throbbing with change and great
expectations. Our greatest achievements during the last 50 years are
to have kept this vast sub-continental nation together as one, to have
built up a democratic system that has been tested in the fire of many
a crises, and to have substantially improved the living conditions of
millions of our people. We have also reached out to the world through
our policy of non-alignment and peaceful co-existence and striven sincerely
for good neighbourly and co-operative relations in our region. It has
been our conviction that peace and harmony in the world is essential
for the full development of a nation as big and populous as ours. In
this enterprise of peace and development, friendship and co-operation
with Great Britain has been an asset to us. As we move towards the next
millenium we look forward to the deepening and broadening of this co-operation
for the benefit of our two countries and peoples.
May I now request you all to join me in a toast to Her Majesty, Queen
Elizebeth-II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh for their
personal well-being and happiness, for the peace and prosperity of the
people of the United Kingdom, and for the enduring friendship and co-operation
between our two countries.