Toast Remarks at a State Dinner hosted
by The President of India
16 October 2003
Your Excellency, President of India, Shri Dr Abdul
Your Excellency, Prime Minister, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee,
Ladies and gentlemen:
Your Excellency, may I take this opportunity to offer
our belated congratulations on your birthday which you
celebrated yesterday. My wife, the entire South African
delegation and I rejoice in being here in New Delhi
in the midst of your gracious and generous hospitality.
India holds a special place in our hearts and we convey
the warmest greetings of the government and people of
South Africa to your Excellency, to Prime Minister Vajpayee,
to your government and to our special friends and comrades,
the people of India.
As we know, India and South Africa share a special
bond of kinship that goes back several centuries. Many
Indians were forcefully brought to South Africa as slaves
and as indentured labourers.
In time, they forged alliances with the Africans who
were engaged in the bitter struggle to defend their
land and independence. Indeed, one of those who best
represented this struggle for freedom and independence
in South Africa and India was the indomitable Mahatma
Gandhi who through his work in our two countries, has
taught all of us that one can be both foreign and at
Words cannot express our immense gratitude for your
outspoken and critical opposition to apartheid, the
material and moral support given to us, and the manner
in which you embraced our cause and gave many activists
and freedom fighters a home away from home.
This year marks the tenth year since our two countries
resumed diplomatic relations, a period in which we have
achieved many important milestones in our mutual efforts
to improve the lives of our peoples. In our common struggle
against poverty and underdevelopment, we have worked
together at various international forums to advance
the cause of the poor and the marginalised in the world.
Yet, we agree that much more needs to be done to ensure
faster change both in our countries and internationally.
I am confident that we will continue to further strengthen
our bonds and ensure that we work closer together to
accelerate the pace of development in both our countries.
We share common goals and values in the same spirit
in which our predecessors signed the Red Fort Declaration
on the occasion of the fiftieth year of India's independence,
which is based on a shared commitment for economic development,
social justice and co-operation for a global order that
is marked by peace, security and equity.
We recognise the sacrifices the Interim Government
of India made when it severed relations with apartheid
However, we are heartened that since the re-establishment
of relations between our countries a decade ago, our
trade has grown from an almost zero base to over R9
billion and the two-way investment in each others countries
now amounts to US$42 million. Clearly, while there is
some growth, the trade and investment flows are very
Undoubtedly, we need to increase the economic co-operation
between our countries and ensure a more vigorous inter
- action better co-operation between our business people.
Today, we have signed several bilateral agreements that
should further strengthen our relations.
We want to also thank you for your commitment to assisting
us in the areas of biotechnology, transport, training
and development, especially to the South African Navy
and ICT, benefiting young South African technicians
doing software development, focusing on solutions for
agriculture and rural development.
Your visionary leadership, of aspiring to reach developed
country status by year 2020 -through Science and Technology,
gives us more courage in this partnership.
Today, in less than a decade of freedom, we are confronted
with immense challenges of tackling poverty, hunger,
disease and underdevelopment. As we all know, this is
a grave phenomenon repeated across the developing world.
It is for this reason that, in July of this year, India,
Brazil and South Africa have signed a declaration to
constitute the IBSA Dialogue Forum.
As Africans, we are engaged in a very important programme
of the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa's
Development (NEPAD). We are confident that together
we will strengthen the partnership and ensure that the
India-Africa Fund makes the necessary impact in the
process of the renewal of Africa.
We will continue to do whatever we can to encourage
speedy resolutions to the conflicts in the Middle East.
We have an obligation to help deliver to the people
of Iraq, Palestine and Israel a permanent peace and
May I thank His Excellency for extending such cordial
and charming welcome to us. We look forward with much
enthusiasm to our visits to Mumbai and Hyderabad where
we hope to see at first hand why India has occupied
a pre-eminent role in the advancement of modern technology.
Naturally, we would be delighted and honoured for your
Excellencies to grace our shores where you would surely
be welcomed with much joy to your home-from-home.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:
Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health
of His Excellency, Shri Dr Abdul Kalam and to this very
special friendship between the people of India and South
I thank you.