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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Excerpts from Manmohan Singh's Speech at the National Press Club, Wednesday, July 20, 2005

“I am delighted to join you this afternoon. I thank you for this invitation to share my thoughts on India's hopes, aspirations, and the challenges we face. I would also like to share with you my perceptions of a very significant visit to the United States. My discussions with President Bush, his senior colleagues and with members of the US Congress, have convinced me that on the journey we have embarked upon towards a future of hope for our people, America would be both a friend and a partner.

India is today poised for a leap into a brave new world. A sustained growth rate of over 6% for the last 15 years - now reaching 7-8% - is fundamentally transforming our society. Its social consequences are visible in rising income levels, growing expectations and in rising demand for quality products and services. This transformation has unleashed a powerful surge of entrepreneurship, creativity and a desire for excellence. Our growing involvement with the global economy and society, expanding foreign trade, reputation for services and activities of our world-class firms are one facet of this change.

We strive to address the needs of every citizen, ensuring their education and well being, and giving them a decent livelihood. On every score, their demands rise as each year's achievements become the benchmark for the next.

Basic needs of all have to be met even as more ambitious hopes of the aspiring are realised. Sustaining growth impulses has to be accompanied by policies aimed at ensuring that change is inclusive and benefits of development are available to all.

In the past, our ties with the United States have benefited India greatly.We seek now to build on that tradition while forging a new partnership. This new partnership is focused on greater business to business interaction, cooperation in energy, in agricultural research and agri-business, in new technologies, in educational networking, and in building frontier science capabilities. Much of my discussion with President Bush was devoted to what the India-US relationship had to offer in the fields of infrastructure and energy.

I believe that American interests are well served by a stronger and more modern Indian economy. Many of the initiatives that we announced – on agricultural research, on nano-science or on innovative technologies – reflect this belief. I am convinced that steps that we have taken will lead to a long-term partnership between India and the US.

Access to energy resources is an issue of particular importance to our relationship and our newly constituted Energy Dialogue is focused on it.Our current dependence on hydrocarbons will have to be diversified in favour of a broader energy mix. I discussed with the President prospects for the resumption of our cooperation on civilian nuclear energy. The United States, I believe, is not only cognisant of our energy requirements but appreciative of the role that India can also play in strengthening global non-proliferation efforts.

The uniqueness of Indian growth is that it takes place entirely within a democratic framework. This has demonstrative implications. The success of India will be proof that growth need not come at the cost of human freedoms. At the same time, its intrinsic stability and consensual basis will make themselves fully felt in long-term partnerships.

Our track record on cooperation, even within the last year, clearly conveys a determination to raise its quality and scope. We have completed the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership, established Energy and Economic Dialogues, put in place an IPR regime and investment policies that encourage business, addressed the Dabhol problem, concluded an Open Skies Agreement with the USA, expanded our defence cooperation with a new framework, and worked closely on tsunami relief. These achievements give us the confidence to now tackle the more ambitious agenda that we have before us.

India has consistently sought to ensure that global institutions and agreements are perceived to be fair and equitable. At a time when global challenges like terrorism, WMD proliferation, environment or health, have become more complex, it is vital that global mechanisms have the necessary capability and credibility to respond. The United Nations is at the centre of such efforts and its reform is currently being debated. By any criteria, India has a strong case to become a permanent member of the Security Council. I hope that my visit can contribute to a better appreciation in the United States of the benefits of including a democratic India in global decision-making.

Terrorism poses a complex threat to open societies and pluralist democracies. For we doubly challenge it, with our freedoms and our tolerance of diversity . India is one of the oldest victims of modern terrorism. Experience that we would have rather not had, has taught us valuable lessons. A key conclusion is that there can be no compromise with those who resort to terrorism. Terrorism anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere. We see the United States as an important partner in combating global terrorism.

India-US relations are based today on shared values and shared interests. We have a broad-based and ambitious agenda that we seek to realise. It is one based on a vision of the world, in which our societies work together to advance freedoms, creativity, prosperity and security. Mechanisms to accomplish these objectives include a range of initiatives and dialogues, some bilateral, others involving the global community. Our goal is to make India-US ties one of the principal relationships of the world.

In conclusion, I must convey my sincere appreciation of President Bush, of the US Administration, the US Congress and the people of this great country, for the warmth of your hospitality. President Bush's deep understanding of our hopes and aspirations and of our contribution to global peace, security and development encourages me to think that we can today work more closely together.

I thank you for giving me this opportunity to share these thoughts with you. I would be glad to take questions.”


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