International Affairs


Your Majesty,

Your Royal Highness,
Distinguished Guests,

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 Majesty’s 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 Majesty’s visit bear witness to this multi-faceted co-operation between our two countries. As one of the world’s 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.

Thank you

Jai Hind