Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's remarks at the reception hosted by the Ambassador of India in New York
September 27, 2008
Ambassador and Mrs. Sen,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I extend my warm greetings to all of you. Soon we will be celebrating Id and then Dussehra and Diwali. So my best wishes to all of you for the coming season of festivals.
I am always delighted to be with members of the Indian community and the Indian American community. Your achievements fill my heart with pride. Your success in diverse spheres of human endeavour is a living proof that given a proper enabling environment, the people of Indian origin are second to none.
My wife and I feel happy and proud to be here today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over three years ago, when I addressed the U.S. Congress, I said that some bilateral relations are based on principles and some are based on pragmatism. What is truly remarkable about the India-US relationship today is that it is based on the twin pillars of both principles and pragmatism.
We are both open societies and open economies. We are both multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual nations. Both our countries respect the rule of law and guarantee fundamental human rights.
This pluralism makes us both “argumentative societies” – to use my friend Amartya Sen’s term. As an “argumentative” people we are bound to have our differences and to voice them. That is what makes our relationship a lively one. The arguments that we have are arguments between friends, between equals, and not adversaries.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The historic agreement on cooperation in the development of civil nuclear energy in India that President George Bush and I embarked upon is nearing fruition.
It is in no small measure due to the very supportive role the Indian American community and the friends of India in the US have played. I thank you all for this.
Thanks to the leadership of President Bush and the friendship of the people of the United States we are on the verge of securing a new status in the global nuclear order. India will be liberated from the constraints of technology denial of 34 years. It will add an important strategic pillar to our bilateral partnership. We will widen our clean energy options.
As we strengthen the economic side of our partnership with the United States, it is inevitable that industry and business in both countries will seek cooperation in new areas such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, health care, space applications, etc. With the launch of the Chandrayaan Moon Mission, with two American instruments aboard, next month, we will cross another milestone.
The knowledge economy and the fields of education and business have been the life-blood of our bilateral relationship. We have decided to expand the opportunities for educational exchange between our two countries. We have jointly invested in doubling the funding for the U.S. – India Educational Foundation, which will now offer the Fulbright - Jawaharlal Nehru Scholarships and Grants to Indian and American students, teachers and scholars.
The India-US partnership is also a result of a convergence of shared interests and common concerns. It is, therefore, not surprising that support for a strong India-US relationship cuts across party lines in both India and the US. The overall sentiment that emerges from our respective domestic debates is a strong positive endorsement of our strategic partnership.
We face common threats and challenges - of terrorism, energy security, proliferation, drugs, maritime security, climate change and environmental degradation.
We stand together in safeguarding our pluralistic and democratic polities from attacks that seek to destroy our cohesiveness and our prosperity.
The Indian American community inspires people of Indian origin around the world with its leadership, its enterprise and creativity. You have among you Nobel Prize winners and Abel Prize winners; great writers and artists; business leaders and scientists. We are all inspired by the life and achievement of Sunita Williams and Kalpana Chawla; of Indira Nooyi and Vikram Pandit; of Jhumpa Lahiri and Mira Nair; of Srinivasa Varadhan and Sabeer Bhatia.
You have become the "brain bank" of the country of your adoption. I hope that you will also become the "brain bridge" between our two countries in frontier areas of technology as well as in trade and investment.
Our Government has created new opportunities to tap this vast reservoir of talent. We created a new Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and launched the Overseas Citizens of India scheme. I know that many of you want to see further improvement in the OCI scheme. We are working on it.
We are aware how fervently you choose to retain your Indian identity, your Indian connections and your Indian heritage, even as you integrate in societies where you live and contribute as good citizens of America.
We have decided to open two additional consulates in Atlanta and Seattle by 2009. This will enhance our consular and cultural outreach.
We have travelled a long distance to reach where we have reached today. We have moved forward as a dynamic and creative nation regaining our rightful place in the global community. The rise of India is a force of peace, development and stability in the world. However, we still have many hurdles to cross. I am confident that our country has the will and the ability to meet the challenge of change.
India’s emergence as a major democratic power and an open economy has been made possible by the creativity, the enterprise, the energy and the talent of its free people. A people who now live on every continent of our planet. A people on whom the sun never sets!
I would like each one of you to be an active partner in this saga of adventure and enterprise, and build an India free from the fear of want and exploitation.