THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate ReleaseMarch 24, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT BUSINESS RECEPTION
7:45 P.M. (L)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, President Goenka. Chief MinisterDeshmukh; my good friend, Ambassador Wisner; my colleague and longtimefriend, Ambassador Celeste; Secretary Daley; our distinguished crowd here-- we thank you for welcoming us. I have brought quite a group from theUnited States including six members of our Congress.
And we were just down in Hyderabad, and I asked the crowd to acknowledgethem because I always got to give the speech, they always have to listen,but when we go home they control all the money. (Laughter.) So I wouldlike to acknowledge the presence here of Congressman Jim McDermott,Congressman Gary Ackerman, Congressman Ed Royce, Representative SheilaJackson Lee, Representative Nita Lowey, and Representative Jan Schakowsky,all members of the United States House of Representatives. We thank themfor coming. (Applause.)
This has been a remarkable week, and I think a wonderful week for me and mydaughter, Chelsea, who is here, and for our entire American delegation. Wecame as friends to a changing India, to gain a better understanding of yourcountry, your views, in order to build a new partnership on a higher levelthan that which we have experienced over the last 22 years.
If you imagine the world you would like to see 10 years from now or 20years from now, if you imagine how you would like India to be 10 or 20years from now, it is difficult to believe that the world you would likeand the India you would like can be achieved without a deeper and betterpartnership of mutual respect and common endeavor with the United States.(Applause.)
I can also say, I'm grateful for the presence of the American Ambassador,one former American Ambassador to India, and the Indian Ambassador to theUnited States, Ambassador Chandra, that I cannot imagine the world that Iwant for my children's generation in America that does not include a deeperand better partnership with India. (Applause.)
And so I came here to try to build it, or at least to have the foundationsthere before my time as President is done. Already, as all of you wellknow, America is the largest trading partner and investor for India. Thisweek, American companies signed about two dozen agreements to create oradvance projects worth another $4 billion. And I'm very pleased that ourExport-Import Bank will make available a billion dollars in new financingfor small and medium-sized businesses in India to export to the UnitedStates.
This week we have strengthened our commitment to work together to protectthe environment, to promote clean energy, to fight against deadly diseases,to use science and technology to help people rise from poverty.
I visited a small village in Rajasthan yesterday -- you probably saw thepictures in the paper where I was dancing with the village ladies.(Laughter.) It was pretty good odds -- there were about 30 of them and oneof me. (Laughter.) And they were throwing -- the children were throwingflowers, petals of flowers on us. But the reason we were dancing wasbecause of the time we had shared before, and I saw the work that was beingdone in the poor village to lift the lives of women, to give them access tocredit, to give them support in the workplace, to keep their children,including their girl children in school. I saw the role of men and womenand people of different tribes and castes working together in the localgovernment units. And so there was cause for celebration.
Today in Hyderabad, when I was there, I talked to representatives of all 23districts of the state in a teleconference about the same sorts ofactivities that are occurring. I say that because I believe that whilethere is plainly a digital divide in India and a digital divide in theUnited States -- not just from place to place, but within every city wherethere is a strong business group well-connected to the new economy -- thetruth is that the Information Age gives us the chance to eliminate povertymore quickly for more people than ever before in all of human history.(Applause.)
I saw that yesterday when I was in this little village of Nayla. And therewas a computer hook-up to the state and federal government so that all thepeople could come in and find out what all the services were that wereavailable to them. And there were printouts so that the women could getactual prints that they could take home that would tell them how to takebetter care of their children.
And some day every village will have all the educational software availableanywhere in the world on it, so that in the poorest villages of India orAfrica or China or Latin America, people will be able to print out fortheir school children the most modern educational materials availableanywhere, so that people in the poorest villages of the world will haveaccess to the same learning materials that the people in the richestschools in the United States or any other country have today.
If we do this right, we will find that doing what is morally right,consistent with the values of India that's a sense of community and mutualresponsibility, also turns out to be very good economics in the InformationAge -- because you need more education, you need more people with thecapacity to make the most of this new economy.
The same thing is true with the environment. All over the world todaythere's a general consensus that the climate is warming too quickly andthat the consequences are likely to be disastrous.
I met with a man doing malaria research shortly before I came here tonight.And we talked about how troubling it was the malaria is now being found athigher and higher altitudes in countries all across the globe where itmanifests, so that it's attacking people in villages that have never seenit before. And they're much more vulnerable and likely to have many moreproblems -- all the consequences of changing environment.
But in the Information Age, no nation has to grow rich by putting moregreenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. And in fact, there will be enormousopportunities for India -- millions and millions of jobs; a trillion-dollarglobal market -- in developing alternative energy sources, maximizing theuse of new energy technologies, the development of fuel for automobilesfrom farm sources all over the world.
It will change the world in the next five years about as much as theInternet has changed it in the last five. And it will do nothing but helpIndia. It would reduce the pressures on your people to continue practicesthat lead to soil erosion or the loss of precious species.
Yesterday I went to the Ranthambhore National Park and I saw twomagnificent Bengal tigers -- one, a vast male tiger named Boomerang --interesting name for a tiger -- (laughter); and the other a female tiger --rather like often happens, the female was doing all he work in thissetting. (Laughter.) She was stalking a herd of deer. And it was anamazing sight to behold.
Already this year, 20 tigers have been killed in India, even though it isnot legal to do so. All these competing economic pressures. I hope all ofyou will help to preserve your tiger population. It's an important part ofIndia's heritage.
But I think we all understand that the stronger and more diversified theeconomy gets, the easier it will be to preserve the species, to preservethe environment, to restore the magnificent historical and culturalartifacts that dot the countryside in every part of this magnificentcountry.
So we have a lot at stake in this. So does the United States. We have inSilicon Valley alone 750 companies started by Indian Americans -- 750 inSilicon Valley alone. (Applause.) We have seen the country literallytransform because of the infusion of new talent from people from all overthe world. But we have been especially blessed by people from India and,indeed, from throughout South Asia.
And as I look at the world of tomorrow -- a world that I hope will becharacterized by peace and prosperity; by a genuine commitment to hedignity of all people; by societies which celebrate their ethnic, theirracial, their tribal, their religious diversity, but are bound together bya common acceptance that the humanity we all share is even more importantthan the differences among us -- I know the world will never be that wayunless South Asia is that way.
And I have seen in these local experiments in India something I wish forall the world. Yesterday, in that little village where I am known now onlyfor dancing not very well with the village women, I talked to people on thelocal government council who told me that they now had 10 of their tribesand castes represented in their local government; that, for the first timein the history of the village, people from different groups were regularlydining together.
Now, it seems like a little thing, but if you consider the fact that800,000 people, more or less, were killed in the Rwandan tribal wars in thespace of 100 days, that a million people were driven from their homes inKosovo simply because they were Muslim in a country that was mostly Serbianand Orthodox Christian, that the Irish Troubles have been going on for 30years, and in the Middle East people still die because of their faith andethnic background, and I could go on and on and on -- it was a trulyremarkable thing to see that, in a local community in India, people wereworried about how they could get clean water, and it didn't matter muchwhat your caste or tribe was. And they were rather proud of the fact thatwomen as well as men were in the government, and that their positions were,to some extent, guaranteed. And they couldn't even remember why theydidn't want to have dinner together anymore.
This may seem small to you, but if you have seen people like I have seenthem -- a widow in Rwanda who woke up to see her husband and six childrencut to death all around her, just because of the tribe they were in; if youhad been in the refugee camps that I've been in, in the Balkans in Bosniaand Kosovo, to see people run out just because of their religious faith --it is not something to be lightly discarded.
If you can figure out how to take what I saw yesterday at the village leveland keep working until you reach some sort of acceptable accommodation onthe other larger problems on this subcontinent, there's no stopping you.
I really do believe that if India -- and, of course, as I said in my speechto the Parliament, you'll have to make all these decisions yourself. Andwe don't agree on every issue, and we shouldn't. And friends don't have toagree on every issue, they just have to have an honest relationship aboutit. And then whoever is supposed to make the decision has to make thedecision.
But I do believe if we can lead the region -- or you can -- away from theproliferation of dangerous weapons, toward the proliferation of new ideas,new companies and new technologies; away from the kind of racial and ethnictensions that we see now in the trouble spots in South Asia, toward thesort of harmony I saw in that little village yesterday -- then the dreamsthat your Chief Minister spoke of are well within your grasp.
I believe that if we work together to turn our common vision into commonprogress, to educate our children as partners, to fight disease aspartners, to protect our environment as partners, to expand commerce aspartners, to lift the lives of the poorest among us as partners, to fightterrorism and work for tolerance as partners, I believe if we do that thenwhat Gandhi said of India so long ago will certainly be true. He oncesaid, "It is my conviction that India, numbering one-fifth of the humanrace, can be a great force of service to the whole of mankind."
If we have the right kind of partnership and the best of India that I haveseen in these last few days becomes the guiding force for all of India,then Gandhi's cherished hope will become the accepted reality for yourchildren and America's children in this new century.
Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)