|SPEECH BY SHRI K.R.NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, AT THE BANQUET HOSTED BY MR. THOMAS KLESTIL, FEDERAL
PRESIDENT OF AUSTRIA
VIENNA, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 1999
Your Excellency President
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure,
Mr. President, for me and my wife, for my delegation and for members of
my family, to be in your country of surpassing beauty. We have already been
entranced by its unique cultural heritage, encompassing architecture, poetry,
music, painting, medicine and the Sciences.
We deeply appreciate
your words of welcome and would like to convey to Your Excellency and to
Madame Margot Klestil Löffler, our sincere thanks for the warmth of the
hospitality that has been shown to us.
My thoughts go back to
my very first visit to Austria some fifty years ago when I came here as
a student. Austria, like the rest of Europe, was emerging then from the
trauma of the Great War. The Four-Power occupation forces were still on
Austrian soil. But even then, Austria had a rare clarity of vision about
its future role in Europe and in the larger world beyond. By interacting
with the people of Austria then, especially the young and the ordinary folks,
I could understand the meaning of what Schubert had said about the Austrian
spirit viz., the quality of "laughing with one eye, while crying with
Some five decades later,
to be present here, today, in the 50th year of the establishment of diplomatic
relations between India and Austria, is therefore a singular honour for
me. The invitation extended to me demonstrates - though no proof was needed
- the abiding ties between our countries and the bond of understanding and
appreciation that have traditionally linked our peoples.
links and equations in the realm of ideas had brought us close to one another
even before the establishment of our diplomatic relations. India's philosopher-poet
and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore visited Vienna twice - first in 1921
and then again in 1926. On his first visit he delivered at the University
here a famous lecture titled "The Religion Of The Forest". He
delivered it again at the Concert Hall. Both lectures were attended by capacity
audiences, the proceeds from the second lecture being donated by Tagore
to the children of Vienna and to the University.
Your Excellency, India
and Austria have interacted over the last several decades as two civilizations.
Creative harmony requires at its starting point a measure of mutual respect
and sympathetic understanding of the complexities and compulsions of each
other. This principle activated the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi, the
Father of our Nation, and influenced his colleagues. Another great son of
India, Jawaharlal Nehru, interacted in the same spirit as early as 1927
with the Austrian leader Bruno Kreisky, when both of them were delegates
at the International Congress of Oppressed Nationalities Against Colonialism
and Imperialism held in Brussels. Recalling that meeting Kreisky was to
write: "Later, many of the delegates from colonial countries, such
as Senghor and Soekarno actively participated in the liberation of their
home countries from the yoke of colonialism. The great name at the Congress
All these are events
of more than seven decades ago. The world has since then been through the
bitters and sweets of Time: the ravages of war on one hand and the great
surge of human progress on the other. Rising on the wings of science, technology
and enterprise, both State-propelled and private, India has taken remarkable
socio-economic strides. Of these achievements, the most significant has
been our Green Revolution bringing self-sufficiency in foodgrains for our
one billion people. The other has been the remarkable doubling in our average
life expectancy at birth, from around 30 at the time of independence to
more than 60 now. India has simultaneously made great industrial progress,
with science and technology leading to some stunning peaks of achievement
in Frontier Sciences such as Space.
Your Excellency, India
is assuming its rightful place in the increasingly globalized world economy.
We attach priority to promoting foreign investment, particularly in the
areas of high technology and infrastructure development. Foreign direct
investment into India has been steadily increasing over the years. We are
confident that the full potential for this will be realized in the coming
years. We recognize the importance of developing appropriate economic linkages
which would assist in this process and we would, therefore, welcome Austrian
investments in areas such as power, roads, airports and air services and
environmentally-sound technology in all of which Austria has a remarkable
record. India could, in turn, be an appropriate partner of Austria in Asia.
Your Excellency, we in
India realise that our own development and our own progress are inextricably
intertwined with the destinies of our neighbours. India continues to stand
firm in spite of repeated setbacks, in her determination to solve the problems
which affect the region and to move forward in a constructive manner. With
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan, we have a wide range
of very far-reaching and important cooperation agreements within an evolving
Free Trade Area framework. Dialogue with our ancient neighbour China, will
continue with a view to improving and broadening our relations. The recent
hostilities with Pakistan and the internal convulsion in that country notwithstanding,
we remain committed to the path of a bilateral dialogue with Pakistan and
the peaceful resolution of our problems under the Shimla Agreement in the
direction spelt out in the Lahore Declaration.
Excellency, the scourge
of international terrorism, which has developed pernicious linkages with
illicit trade in drugs, arms and money laundering, continues to beset us.
We have been victims of State-sponsored and cross-border terrorism now for
more than a decade. India strongly condemns all acts of terrorism which
destabilise the political, economic and social order of sovereign states.
India's commitment to
disarmament, especially universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory
nuclear disarmament, is a central feature of our foreign policy. Our commitment
is clearly reflected in our unilateral announcement of a moratorium on nuclear
testing, a 'No First Use' of nuclear weapons policy as well as non-use against
non-nuclear weapon countries.
Through our carefully
thought-out espousal of Non-Alignment, Excellency, we have retained an invaluable
autonomy in decision-making and have been able to assess different issues
on merits. We have been able to do so in the highest body in the world -
the United Nations Organization - and also, more recently, in forums such
as the World Trade Organization.
India believes that it
is both essential and possible to create a world based on equity, justice;
and free from exploitation. We believe that the United Nations remains the
best hope for humanity in its quest to achieve a just forum where all voices
are heard. We believe the United Nations must take into account the pre-eminent
political reality of our times, namely, the emergence of developing countries
in the world scene.
The 1962 Vienna Declaration
of Co-operation for the Promotion of Economic Development said:
The inequality prevailing
among different nations could never prevail within the borders of a modern
state because the human conscience no longer tolerates the supreme luxury
of a few people in contrast with the lack of bare necessities of the others.
Inequality is relieved within national borders through a redistribution
of the goods of the rich. The world has become so small that political borders
cannot stop the human solidarity of man and man.
Excellency, both India
and Austria have just concluded General Elections to their Parliaments.
Our two countries are dedicated to the principles and practices of democracy
- social, political and economic. Based on our political affinities and
the potential for our economic relationship, we in India would like to move
into the next millennium with Austria as a close partner, not just for the
benefit of the peoples of our two countries, but also for the prosperity
of our respective regions and the world as a whole.
I thank you once again,
Mr. President, on behalf of my delegation and on my own behalf. It will
give us great pleasure to receive you and Madame Klestil Löffler on a State
Visit on dates convenient to your Government, so that the dialogue begun
here, may continue.
May I request you Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen to join me in a toast:
- to the health and happiness
of His Excellency and Madame Margot Klestil-Löffler
- to the continued prosperity
of the people of Austria and
- to the abiding friendship
and cooperation between India and Austria.