BY SHRI K.R.NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, WHILE ACCEPTING
CREDENTIALS MS. M.E. MOHALE, HOGH COMMISSIONER-DESIGNATE
OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA TO INDIA
NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 24,
It is with great pleasure
that I welcome you today as the Second High Commissioner of the Republic
of South Africa to India.
It was from the crucible
of the struggle for human dignity and equality in South Africa that Mohandas
Karamchand Gandhi emerged as the 'Mahatma' and subsequently led India to
freedom. The legacy of Gandhiji which you have referred to, made us realize
that our freedom was incomplete while you remained chained by apartheid.
It was only natural therefore, for India to have consistently supported
your struggle for human dignity. We have had the privilege of receiving
your great leader Nelson Mandela and conferring on him our highest civilian
honour Bharat Ratna, the 'Jewel of India'.
Long before the formal
establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries in 1994,
for well over 30 years since the early 60s, India recognized the ANC representative
in New Delhi as the full-fledged Ambassador of the real South Africa which
was struggling to break out of the confines of apartheid. For our first
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, India's identification with the South African
struggle was more than a commitment; it was a passion. Given our close links
with the liberation movement in South Africa and our involvement in the
anti-apartheid struggle at international fora, we were exhilarated by the
remarkable success of the South African people in their struggle which led
to the inauguration of the first non-racial Government in May 1994. It was
a singular personal honour for me to have represented India at the inauguration
ceremony of the new South Africa in my then capacity as the Vice-President
of India. In the same capacity, it was my special pleasure to welcome to
India on his first visit by the then Vice President and now the President
of South Africa, H.E. Dr. Thabo Mbeki.
In the five years of
our formal diplomatic relations, our two countries have moved rapidly on
all aspects of our bilateral relationship. Our joint commitment to democracy,
secularism and social justice; the similarity and even identity of our views
on major international issues; and the complementarities in our developing
economies provide the basis for the Strategic Partnership which we have
developed. I am sure that your tenure in this country will see a further
enrichment of the substance and content of this Partnership.
It is a matter of satisfaction
that both our countries have greatly intensified the level of our economic
interaction. I am happy to note that our bilateral trade has grown by more
than ten times in the last few years. The many institutional mechanisms
we have set up to monitor this growing relationship have already proved
their utility, and need to be further strengthened. In this context, the
signing of as many as 13 bilateral agreements in vital areas of concern
to both countries is of special significance. The Joint Commission between
our two countries has met regularly. Our Chambers of Commerce and Industry
have also been meeting under the auspices of the Indo-South Africa Commercial
Alliance. New areas are being identified for cooperation including in science
and technology, mining, telecommunications, low-cost housing, agriculture
and information technology. I am sure that these developments will help
in giving real economic content to the Partnership we are committed to.
India is gratified at
the Chairmanship of the Non-aligned Movement having devolved upon South
Africa, for whose liberation NAM strove for decades. Members of NAM need
to work together in the post Cold War world to strengthen the political,
economic and technological commonalities of the developing world and in
order to preserve international equilibrium in our pluralistic world.
Madam High Commissioner,
we in India extend our warm congratulations to President Thabo Mbeki for
leading his party to a decisive victory in the second national elections
a few months ago. We empathize with his objectives of promoting rapid socio-economic
transformation in South Africa, and applaud his vision of an African renaissance
which would project rejuvenated Africa on to the centre stage of world affairs.
India has always shared the vision of a common Afro-Asian destiny and my
Government would be happy to work with South Africa to promote this objective.
We also stand ready to share with the Government and the people of South
Africa the developmental experiences which we have gained over the 50 years
of our independence. We will be proud to do so as a fellow member of NAM,
of the Commonwealth and of the Indian Ocean Rim - Association of Regional
I wish Your Excellency
an enjoyable and successful term of office in India. I take this opportunity
to extend my Government's full cooperation for your efforts to carry forward
the warm relationship between India and South Africa.