A strong India-U.S. partnership can anchor peace, prosperity and stability from Asia to Africa and from Indian Ocean to the Pacific. It can also help ensure security of the sea lanes of commerce and freedom of navigation on seas. But, the effectiveness of our cooperation would increase if international institutions framed with the mindset of the 20th century were to reflect the realities of today.
Mr. Speaker, before arriving in Washington D.C., I had visited Herat in Western Afghanistan to inaugurate Afghan-India Friendship Dam, built with Indian assistance. I was also there on the Christmas day last year to dedicate to that proud nation its Parliament, a testimony to our democratic ties. Afghans naturally recognize that the sacrifices of America have helped create a better life.
But, your contribution in keeping the region safe and secure is deeply appreciated even beyond. And India too has made an enormous contribution and sacrifices to support our friendship with Afghan people. A commitment to rebuild a peaceful, and stable and prosperous Afghanistan is our shared objective.
Yet, Distinguished Members, not just in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in South Asia, and globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat. In the territory stretching from West of India’s border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Laskhar-e-Taiba, to Taliban to ISIS. But its philosophy is common: of hate, murder and violence. Although its shadow is spreading across the world, it is incubated in India’s neighborhood.
I commend the members of the U.S. Congress for sending a clear message to those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains. Refusing to reward them is the first step towards holding them accountable for their actions. The fight against terrorism has to be fought at many levels. And, the traditional tools of military intelligence or diplomacy alone would not be able to win this fight.
Mr. Speaker, we have both lost civilians and soldiers in combating terrorism. The need of the hour is for us to deepen our security cooperation and, base it on a policy that isolates those who harbor, support and sponsor terrorists; that does not distinguish between “good” and “bad” terrorists; and that delinks religion from terrorism.
Also, for us to succeed, those who believe in humanity must come together to fight for it as one, and speak against this menace in one voice. Terrorism must be delegitimized.
Mr. Speaker, the benefits of our partnership extend not just to the nations and regions that need it most. On our own, and by combining our capacities, we are also responding to other global challenges including when disaster strikes and where humanitarian relief is needed.
Far from our shores, we have evacuated thousands from Yemen, Americans, Indians and others. Nearer home, we were the first responders during Nepal’s earthquake, in the Maldives water crisis and most recently during landslide in Sri Lanka.
We are also one of the largest contributors of troops to UN Peace Keeping Operations. Often, India and the U.S. have combined their strengths in science, technology and innovation to help fight hunger, poverty, diseases and illiteracy in different parts of the world.
The success of our partnership is also opening up new opportunities for learning, security and development from Asia to Africa. And, the protection of environment and caring for the planet is central to our shared vision of a just world.
For us in India, to live in harmony with mother earth is a part of our ancient belief. And, to take from nature only what is most essential is part of our Indian culture. Our partnership, therefore, aims to balance responsibilities with capabilities. And, it also focuses on new ways to increase the availability and use of renewable energy.
A strong U.S. support for our initiative to form an International Solar Alliance is one such effort. We are working together not just for a better future for ourselves, but for the whole world. This has also been the goal of our efforts in G-20, East Asia Summit and Climate Change summits.
Mr. Speaker, as we deepen our partnership, there would be times when we would have differing perspectives. But, since our interests and concerns converge, the autonomy in decision making and diversity in our perspectives can only add values to our partnership.
So, as we embark on a new journey, and seek new goals, let us focus not just on matters routine but also transformational ideas. Ideas which can focus: Not just on creating wealth but also creating value for our societies; not just on immediate gains but also long term benefits; not just on sharing best practices but also shaping partnerships; and not just on building a bright future for our peoples, but in being a bridge to a more united, humane and prosperous world.
And, important for the success of this journey would be a need to view it with new eyes and new sensitivities. When we do this, we will realize the full promise of this extraordinary relationship.
Mr. Speaker, in my final thoughts and words, let me emphasize that our relationship is primed for a momentous future. The constraints of the past are behind us and foundations of the future are firmly in place.
In the lines of Walt Whitman, “The Orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal.” And to that, if I might add, there is a new symphony in play.
Thank you Mr. Speaker and Mr. Vice President, Distinguished members for this honor. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thanks a lot.