April 11, 2013

PM’s remarks at the closing ceremony of the Days of India in Germany

"I am truly delighted to join you for the closing ceremony of the Days of India in Germany. It is a privilege to mark the end of wonderful celebration that was launched by Her Excellency Chancellor Angela Merkel in Delhi in May 2011. This series of events have been a tribute not just to sixty years of our diplomatic relations. They have also been a fitting reminder of the longstanding people-to-people relationship between the German people and the people of India.

Indeed, ladies and gentlemen, our bilateral relationship today is built on the foundations of centuries of association between our two peoples. As that great son of Germany, Prof. Max Mueller, reminded us more than a century ago, our two nations have been bound together by many strands that go deep into the recesses of our mind. We in India continue to celebrate the life and learning of Max Mueller. His expansive praise of India endeared him to the leaders of our national movement. Max Mueller once remarked: "If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions, I should point to India.”

In our ancient land that has rediscovered itself as a modern nation, such intellectual explorations filled us with a sense of pride. In so doing, Max Mueller contributed, like so many great scholars of his time, to a new consciousness that became the foundation of our national movement and struggle for independence.

Events such as the Days of India in Germany are, without doubt, meant to entertain. But, they are also meant to enlighten and educate. I do sincerely hope that the programmes undertaken as part of this series have served all three purposes – to entertain, educate and enlighten. I am also happy that we are marking this event in this great historic city of Berlin, a city of extraordinary history and character, of resilience and regeneration. Berlin’s transformation from a city at the edge of a great divide into one at the centre of Europe’s integration is a symbol of Germany’s international role and responsibility; of its contribution to the great European project; and of a future for Europe defined by unity, not by division.

These are difficult times, not just for Europe, but for the entire world. I am confident, however, that with national measures and collective efforts, Europe will overcome its present economic challenges. The world needs a successful, open and prosperous Europe. We in India too have a stake in Europe’s economic recovery, its growth and its role in world affairs.

The trials of the global economy have led to repercussions in India as well and our economic growth has slowed down in the past two years. In response, our government has considered several measures to revive the engines of growth. In a country of India’s size, diversity and complexity, intense debates on the policy choices we make are inevitable. But these debates have not stopped us from taking some hard decisions in the long term interest of our country and our people. In fact, we welcome the debates for the value that they add to our policies and thus make them more durable.

Looking to the future, we have set ourselves a target of over 8% annual growth for the Twelfth Five Year Plan. This is the rate of growth India recorded over the past decade and is, I believe, our potential rate of growth in the near future. We are confident that we can return to that growth path. Our economic fundamentals are strong. The spirit of adventure, enterprise and innovation in India is thriving. The opportunities for investment abound. Our government’s resolve to spur investments, attract foreign investors and boost economic growth remains unwavering. Towards this end, we have sought to make India more attractive to investors both at home and abroad and German investors have a special place in our hearts.

In recent months, we have introduced strong measures to achieve fiscal consolidation and further strengthen macroeconomic stability. We have taken steps to accelerate implementation of major infrastructure projects. Our message to the world is clear: India remains open and welcoming to foreign investment. We are aiming to attract an investment of nearly one trillion dollars in infrastructure over the next five years. I hope German companies and companies from across Europe will make good use of these opportunities and help accelerate our growth process to our mutual advantage.

India’s concern is not merely its rate of growth, but also the quality of that growth and living conditions of our people both in health and education. We want our growth to be inclusive and sustainable. This is not just a social and political imperative, but also a sound economic underpinning for sustained long term growth. Therefore, we have placed a special emphasis on livelihoods, food security, healthcare, education, skill development and on clean and renewable energy.

In our quest for strong and sustainable growth, Germany is one of India’s most important partners. It is not merely because of German excellence in science, technology, production and organisation. It is more because we share a relationship of comfort, candour and confidence, which rests on shared values and draws upon centuries of intellectual, cultural and philosophical exchanges. In every area of our national development goals – infrastructure, manufacturing, clean energy, science and technology, higher education and skill development – I see enormous opportunities for fruitful partnerships between our two countries.

This is amply reflected in the ten agreements that have been signed today, which include collaboration on a unique and potentially transformative green energy corridor in India and a joint fund for collaboration in higher education.

India and Germany also share common aspirations for their place in a reformed United Nations Security Council. Both of us support the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. We are engaging on a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement between India and the EU, and we consult closely in the G-20 on the directions of global economic recovery. We seek a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. We also share the goal of a stable global order, including in the rapidly transforming Asia Pacific region.

Today’s is a world of inter-dependent prosperity and shared vulnerability. This is a world not of declining and rising powers, but of broadening opportunities and more widespread hope. This is an age when change is rapid, but transformation can also be quick. This is an age that calls us to connect, to engage and to embrace each other.

On his first visit to Germany in 1956, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru spoke about the hopes for his country, his confidence in Germany and his optimism about India-Germany relations. In the long distance that we have travelled since, our two countries have redeemed that vision. I am confident that in the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century, India and Germany will continue to seek new pathways to a closer partnership for our people and for the benefit of peoples of this planet.

I want to thank everyone in India and Germany, in and outside the government, who have worked hard on these celebrations and this ceremony. I am privileged to be here this evening and I have no doubt that this celebration will be a foundation for an even closer partnership between our two countries in the years to come. This is the aspiration, hope and confidence that has brought me to this historical city of Berlin.

I thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen."