November 1st, 2009
'India, Britain natural partners'
Drawing a parallel between the traditions of diversity and democracy embraced by India and Britain, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil described the two countries as "natural partners" who were set to shape the course of the 21st century, in her recent visit to Britain in October.
"Our bilateral relations have been, for some time now, perhaps better than they have ever been before - we are conscious of the need to continuously nurture it," the president told a gathering of some 150 guests at a state banquet hosted in her honour by Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's reigning monarch, in Windsor Castle.
Excerpts from her speech:
"Since my arrival in London, I have been struck by the energy and vitality of the city. London, in the truest sense is a big, old but dynamic city. It represents a microcosm of the world with people of different religions and races living together. It seems to be everyone's city - much like Delhi, the capital of India. The conclusion of a friendship arrangement between our two capital cities was, thus, natural.
The ties between India and Britain are built upon shared values and traditions. There are numerous commonalities between our two countries. We are vibrant democracies with a free press and active civil societies. We both believe in freedom, dignity and respect for the individual. Our countries are forwardlooking, adapting to the challenges and trying to shape the outcome of the 21st Century. It is these shared experiences and objectives that have helped us to understand each other's vision and concerns leading to broad-based cooperation. Our two nations reached a new milestone when we upgraded our relationship to a 'Strategic Partnership' in 2004. This symbolises mutual trust and confidence in each other. It also signifies a desire to work together.
India and Britain are natural partners with an impressive array of complementarities. It is not surprising, therefore, that our two countries are now engaged in further strengthening our partnership in different areas including trade and investment, science and technology, education, counter-terrorism, culture, management of the global economy and issues relating to climate change. The real strength of any relationship lies in the people-to-people contacts. The fact that almost a million people from our two countries travel annually for tourism and business purposes, and that there are over hundred flights a week linking various cities of India and Britain, forms a strong foundation to build on these contacts. In conclusion, I would like to say that our bilateral relations have been, for some time now, perhaps better than they have ever been before."
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