The following is the text of an address by Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, to over 1,500 Indian-Americans at a reception hosted by the Indian Ambassador:
“I am very pleased to be with all of you this evening and appreciate your warm welcome. I am here in Washington on a visit at the invitation of President Bush. It is our shared hope that the discussions that we had yesterday would mark a transformation of ties between our two great democracies. I take the opportunity today to share with you my thoughts regarding the vision of our partnership and what you, as Indians resident in the United States, could contribute to these goals.
In 1949, Panditji came here on what he himself described as a ‘voyage of discovery’. I am here on a mission to give U.S. leaders an overview of the dramatic changes now taking place in India in our quest for social and economic transformation. India now happens to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Indian economy has now acquired the capacity to grow annually at the rate of 7-8 per cent. It is an endeavour to communicate to the opinion makers the ferment and energy that characterize Indian society. It is to convey that there is a new India in the making: one of world class firms, of a dynamic services sector, of young entrepreneurs and risk takers, of confident professionals and of rising urban and rural income levels.
My purpose in coming to the United States were three. First, to enhance an appreciation of these very changes which have given us the capability to better partner the United States. Second, to emphasise that the United States can contribute to these processes, accelerate growth rates in India by its policies and that it is in US strategic interest that the Indian economy expands rapidly. And third, that the educational empowerment of a demographically young India provides the basis for a long-term partnership between two key knowledge powers. My message is that India is an open economy as well as an open society, one capable and confident of closely engaging the world.
I believe that these last two days, the groundwork has been laid for a new relationship. I saw a different level of interest in India on the part of the President himself, key members of the Administration and among members of the US Congress, to whom I had the honour of delivering an address this morning. I saw as well that the corporate sector in the United States is looking at India very much more positively. This is reflected in the enthusiasm of the CEOs who have joined the bilateral forum that the President and I inaugurated yesterday. Initiatives and understandings that emerge from this visit should contribute to the long-term strength and competitiveness of India. For me, this visit represents an important step in our journey towards reform and modernization that began in 1991.
Our challenge in India is to meet the rising aspirations of the upwardly mobile while simultaneously addressing the basic needs of those who are still vulnerable. We are committed to take determined measures to get rid of poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflict large section of our population. These are not choices, but two faces of the challenge of taking India forward. 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. Obviously, with the passage of time, the terms of agreement are bound to change. Renewed cooperation in agricultural research, a focus on promoting agri-business, supporting innovative technologies, expanding educational networking, and building frontier science capabilities are all steps designed at giving our ties a contemporary relevance. Our two countries can cooperate to use the advances in modern science and technology to accelerate the pace of social and economic development. Our capability to partner the US on addressing global challenges has also increased and strengthening democratic capacities, addressing the HIV/AIDS challenge and responding to natural disasters are among our shared goals.
Our track record, even within the last year, clearly conveys a determination to raise the quality and scope of our cooperation. 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.
The role of the Indian community and Indian-Americans in this transformation process is vital. It is your creativity, knowledge, entrepreneurship and work ethic that has helped to greatly transform the image of India in American minds. No community in American history has achieved as much success in as short a time span as Indian-Americans. From a bridge between our two societies, you could become a veritable highway for the flow of ideas, technology and capital. You embody the knowledge partnership between us, whose broadening will surely make Indo-US ties one of the principal relationships of the world.
I thank you for all that you have done, individually and together, for India. Your support and your talents are necessary for our continued progress. I believe that the 21st century will be a global one, belonging to global citizens. It will a century of freedom, of democracy, of multi-culturalism and of knowledge. These are the very values you represent, values that we admire. Through your commitment and efforts, India and the Indo-US partnership will grow together.”
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