Remarks by President Clinton and President Narayanan of India of India in an Exchange of Toasts


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate ReleaseMarch 21, 2000


Rashtrapati Bhavan
Delhi, India

8:55 P.M. (L)

PRESIDENT NARAYANAN: Your excellency, Mr. William Jefferson Clinton,President of the United States of America; excellencies and distinguishedguests. It is with great pleasure, Mr. President, that I welcome you andthe distinguished members of your delegation, the honorable representativesof the U.S. Congress and high officials of the U.S. government on behalf ofthe government and the people of India.

We are aware that ever since your inauguration as President you havewanted to visit India. As a harbinger of your intention, the First Lady ofthe United States, Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, made a visit to India inMarch, 1995. We have pleasant memories of that visit and I should like tosay that we miss her alongside you on this occasion.

India and the United States have been linked to each other by ideas,ideals and by enlightened interests. These go far beyond and deeper thanthe allurements of economics and trade, and the entanglement of anymilitary alliance. For most Indians, the United States of Americaresonates with the great names and the high ideas of Benjamin Franklin,George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, and thephilosophy and thoughts of outstanding American thinkers and writers likeEmerson, Thoreau, Walt Whitman who influenced great Indians likeVivekananda, Rabindranath Torgore, Jawaharlal Nehru, and of course, MahatmaGandhi.

The influence of Gandhi on Martin Luther King, Jr. in the struggle forthe equality of the blacks in America is well-known; so much so that whenMr. King was shot, the whole world said that another Gandhi has been shot.Thus, Mr. President, impulses greater than trade and commerce have linkedour two countries and peoples.

In 1961, at a time when we were facing particular issues, the thenPrime Minister Nehru wrote to President John F. Kennedy saying that even ifthe United States did not do anything, India would remain friendly to her.Expatiating on this idea, Nehru wrote to the chief ministers of Indianstates a little earlier -- and I quote -- "Many people imagine that ourrelations with the United States depend on the amount of financial aid thatthey can give us. This is a complete misapprehension. Whether the U.S.give us much or little, or nothing at all, our relations with them will notbe affected much, provided other factors are satisfactory. It is theseother and political factors that are constantly coming into the way."

A somewhat similar sentiment was expressed by Mahatma Gandhi muchearlier, in 1936, when a group of Christian workers from the USA met him.He said, answering their questions -- and I quote -- "When Americans comeand ask me what service they could render, I tell them, if you dangle yourmillions before us, you will make beggars of us and demoralize us. But inone thing I don't mind being a beggar. You can ask your engineers andagricultural experts to place their services at our disposal. They mustcome to us, not as lords and masters, but as voluntary workers."

Since Nehru and Gandhi gave expression to these sentiments, therelations between our two countries in economics and commerce and in thefield of scientific exchanges have grown enormously, both in quality andquantity. Millions of tons of wheat have been shipped to India by USA andAmerican agricultural experts have helped in igniting the green revolutionwhich is one of the major achievements of India since independence.

The USA has emerged today as the number one partner of India in therealms of trade and investment, and our economic cooperation promisesspectacular prospects for the good of our two countries and the world.

I must mention here the role of over 1 million people of Indian originresident in America who have made outstanding contributions to the countryof their adoption, and to cooperation between the United States and India.But there is no gainsaying that in the Cold War period our relations werebedeviled by military alignment and the ideological bloc politics, and thedifficulty in that age of extremes on the part of the United States inappreciating India's policy of nonalignment and peaceful coexistence.

The mind-set of the Cold War has perhaps not entirely disappeared.Vestiges of the Cold War strategies still return to haunt the world. Webelieve, Mr. President, that in the post-Cold War period, the nonalignedconcept of a pluralist world, order is more relevant than the politics ofmilitary blocs and alignments.

At this juncture, I recall the words of Jawaharlal Nehru who, onassuming office in 1946, said -- and I quote -- "We send our greetings tothe people of the United States of America to whom destiny has given amajor role in international affairs. We trust this tremendousresponsibility will be utilized for the furtherance of peace and humanfreedom everywhere."

Prime Minister Nehru had enjoyed a warm equation with PresidentEisenhower, and years later with President John F. Kennedy. Of the later,Nehru said, "Wealth and prosperity came to his country. To these,President Kennedy added a deeper human and moral outlook which embraced inits scope the peoples of the world."

It is a measure of your own far-sightedness, Mr. President, that you,too, have thrown your great energy for the advancement of developingnations and the alleviation of poverty in the world. You have also strivento turn a major challenge in our bilateral relationship into an opportunitythat both sides have grasped whole-heartedly.

Mr. President, one remarkable feature of the post-Cold War world isthis emergence of a large number of developing nations in the political andeconomic arena of the world. And the other dominant fact is the emergenceof the United States of America as the major economic, technological andmilitary factor in the world. The USA holds a tremendous responsibilityfor strengthening peace and stability in the world. For that purpose, theUnited Nations organization should be strengthened and made the centerpieceof the new global architecture.

We believe, Mr. President, that the United Nations can be strengthenedby the unstinting support of the United States of America and by reformingits major organs by giving the developing countries their due place in itscentral structure, reflecting the realities of the world today. We believethat among the developing nations, India has, in terms not only of itsimmense size and population, its economic and technological status andpotentialities, but also in terms of its great services to the cause of theU.N., every right to be represented on a reformed and expanded SecurityCouncil.

Throughout its independent history, especially in the early years whenthe U.N. itself was under jeopardy, India had served the cause of the worldbody. Mr. President, we do recognize and welcome the fact that the worldhas been moving inevitably toward one world. From the earliest times,India has had intimations of an emerging one world of humanity as a singlefamily.

But for us, globalization does not mean the end of history andgeography, and of the lively and exciting diversities of the world. As anAfrican statesman has observed to us, the fact that the world is a globalvillage does not mean that it will have only one village headman. In thisage of democracy, it will be headed by a panchayat. For us, the UnitedNations is the global panchayat, and that is why we wanted to bedemocratized and sustained.

Globalization means that global societies should be sustained by eachunit -- the nation states, groups, families and individuals who have theirown inextinguishable identities and unique characteristics. Long ago,Mahatma Gandhi described his version of a one world in the following manner-- and I quote -- "The better mind of the world desires today notabsolutely independent states, but a federation of friendly interdependentstates. I desire the ability to be totally independent without assertingthat independence."

In such a globalized world society, there would be no place forhegemonistic controls or cutthroat competition. India, Mr. President, is acountry that has wrested its independence from one of the mightiest empireson Earth by the method of nonviolence. It is not a desire of this nationto solve such problems as we have with our neighbors by the use of force.

With Pakistan, which was carved out of our body politic, it was ourdesire to have friendly cooperation in a hundred ways after partition. Butif India's integrity and independence is threatened, it becomes the duty ofthe Indian state -- its duty to the 1 billion people who inhabit our vastland -- to defend them with all the resources and strength at its disposal.

We are open to a dialogue and a peaceful settlement of differences.But should they have the divine right of aggression and of indiscriminateand well-organized terrorism across the international borders or the agreedline of control sanctified by solemn treaties and commitments?

It has been suggested that the Indian subcontinent is the mostdangerous place in the world today, and Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint.These alarmist descriptions will only encourage those who want to break thepeace and indulge in terrorism and violence. The danger is not from us whohave declared solemnly that we will not be the first to use nuclearweapons, but rather it is from those who refuse to make any suchcommitment.

We are publicly committed to the abolition of nuclear weapons togetherwith other nuclear powers who possess them in awesome stockpiles capable ofdestroying the world many times over. India does not threaten any othercountry and will not engage in an arms race, but India will maintain aminimum credible nuclear deterrent -- no more, no less -- for her ownsecurity.

We continue to be anxious to work with the USA to prevent the spreadof weapons of mass destruction and to promote a goal of a world free ofweapons of mass destruction. On this historic, auspicious occasion of yourvisit to India, Mr. President, let us appeal to the world to take steps,concrete and substantive, towards nuclear disarmament along withnonproliferation, so that we do not consolidate the existing inequalitiesand sanctify the possession of nuclear weapons in the armouries of thenations.

Mr. President, your visit provides us an opportunity to lay thefoundation of a new, dynamic, and multifaceted partnership between ourgreat democratic nations. Our peoples now expect us to advance ourrelationship based on a shared commitment to peace and democracy,reenforced by a growing mutuality of interest in political andtechnological fields, and by an increasing convergence of a world view.This will require us to remain engaged in frank dialogue on the linesdescribed by Henry David Thoreau. He said, it takes two to speak the truth-- one to speak, and another to hear.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, may I now invite you to join me inproposing a toast to the health and well-being of the President of theUnited States of America, Mr. William Jefferson Clinton; to the abidingfriendship between our peoples, the peoples of India and the United States;to the success of our joint endeavors for peace and justice in the world.

(A toast is offered.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, distinguishedguests. First, on behalf of the American delegation, let me thank you foryour warm hospitality and, indeed, I thank all of you for making us feel sowelcome.

As you pointed out, Mr. President, it was five years ago next weekwhen my wife and daughter first came to New Delhi. I confess I was alittle jealous of them then because I wanted to come. And I am delightedfinally to be here today.

One of my country's most beloved writers, Mark Twain, once wrote thatIndia -- and I quote -- "is the sole country under the sun that all desireto see, and having seen once, would not trade that glimpse for the shows ofall the rest of globe combined."

India has given profound gifts to the world for thousands of yearsnow. Nearly half of humanity practices the four great religions that wereborn here -- Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism. The whole world hasbeen influenced by Indian culture. Indian thinkers have enriched everyscience known to humanity. And I welcome the presence of so many of yourscientists here tonight.

However, I must confess there are many American high school studentswho wish that Aryabhatiya had kept his work on trigonometry to himself.(Laughter.)

The computer age would hardly be possible at all without the decimalsystem invented in India. And, appropriately enough, 30 percent of theworld's software engineers today are Indian. Every American who has beenmoved by the universal philosophy of nonviolence, every American whose lifewas transformed by the civil rights movement, owes a debt to India.

Today I had the great honor of visiting the Gandhi Memorial. Twoweeks ago, in my own country, I visited Selma, Alabama, which is one of thesacred sites of our civil rights movement -- where the words of MartinLuther King and the marches of ordinary citizens both echoed the ideas ofGandhi.

My country has been enriched by the contributions of more than amillion Indian Americans, from Vinod Dahm, the father of the pentium chip;to Deepak Chopra, pioneer of alternative medicine; to Saveer Bhatia,creator of the free mail system, hotmail -- the e-mail system.

Now, next Sunday, when the Academy Awards are given out in LosAngeles, more than a few people not only in India, but in America, will berooting for director M. Night Shyamalan, and his remarkable movie, TheSixth Sense, nominated for best picture.

So we have gotten a lot from India, and we have neglected ourfriendship for too long. Today we are proud to be your partners, yourallies, your friends in freedom. As a President who has the good fortuneto have been selected by an electorate that casts about 100 million votes,I can hardly imagine a nation with over 600 million eligible voters. Idon't know how you please them all. Or should I say, 60 crore.

I didn't know what a crore was until I got here this time. Now I cango home and suggest to my Vice President that he have a new slogan -- Fourcrore for Al Gore. (Laughter.)

We have a lot to give the world in the richness of democracy. One ofthe great things about a democracy is it is a system which allows us toresolve our differences through conversation, not confrontation. I'veenjoyed the conversation that we began here today. I am grateful that wefound common ground. I am convinced we have laid the foundation for a newrespectful partnership, based on our oldest and most enduring values.

In the days to come, may our two nations always remain examples oftolerance and the power of diversity. May we build societies that drawupon the talents and energies of all our people. May we preserve thebeauty and natural richness of this small planet that we share. May wework together to make the difficult choices and the necessary investments,as Nehru once instructed, "to advance the larger cause of humanity." Inthe spirit of that partnership and that vision, I ask you all to join me inraising a glass to the President, the Prime Minister, and the people ofthis wonderful nation which has welcomed us.

(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)  


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