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SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, H.E. MR. BARACK OBAMA

New Delhi

Your Excellency, President Barack Obama,
Mrs. Michelle Obama,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour and privilege, Mr. President, to welcome you this evening. You are in our midst at a time when India-US relations have never been stronger and the promise and potential of our partnership has never been greater.

From different paths and different circumstances, Indians and Americans have reached the same conclusion: that democracy is a universal ideal and justice, dignity and opportunity are universal aspirations.

At important moments in our history - for example, during India's freedom struggle and the American Civil Rights Movement - we have inspired each other. The lives and message of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King reflect our shared vision, our common struggles and our collective hopes. Nothing echoes this better than the words of Martin Luther King, "If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought, and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony." Your own admiration for Mahatma Gandhi reflects this continuing philosophical bond between our peoples.

Today, we have built a strong strategic partnership on the solid bedrock of shared ideals and common interests. The historic civil nuclear initiative is an instrument and a symbol of our transformed relations. But, across virtually every field of human endeavour, we have explored new frontiers and redefined the paradigm of co-operation.

There are many ties that bind our two nations together. Nearly 3 million people of Indian origin in the United States act as a bridge of friendship, including over 100,000 Indian students in the United States, who along with the growing number of young Americans coming to India, are sowing the seeds of future partnerships. Our enterprises, scientists, engineers, technologists and academics are creating partnerships that generate hope for the future.

We have, therefore, enormous potential to work together for a sustainable and inclusive global economic development, to address the challenges of infrastructure, clean energy, food security and health security, and educate and empower the youth, especially our women, for the responsibilities of the new era. Our two nations are well placed to harness the power of innovation, not only for technological leadership and global competitiveness, but also as a tool for economic empowerment and social transformation.

I am pleased that today we have announced initiatives to benefit not only our peoples, but also fulfill our responsibility to humankind. We have the humility to know that we do not have all the answers, but we have the strength of our values and the benefit of our experience to make our own modest contribution to this cause.

Excellency, we cannot make our world more prosperous without making our people safer. As democracies, we have a profound responsibility to work together for peace, stability and security in the world. We must continue our joint efforts to reform global institutions to reflect contemporary realities, and increase their effectiveness in meeting current challenges.

This is a time of great challenges in the world, but never has the opportunity been greater, the environment better, and the need more urgent for our two countries to work together and lead global efforts to seek a safer, more prosperous and more sustainable future, full of goodwill for this world.

Your visit, Mr. President, has been a historic milestone in our shared journey.

Excellencies and Distinguished Guests, may I now request you to join me in raising a toast to:

- the good health of His Excellency President Obama and Her Excellency Mrs. Obama

 - to the prosperity and well-being of the people of the United States; and

- to further strengthening of the bonds of co-operation and friendship between India and the United States.