Visits Visits

Speech by President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at the Banquet hosted by President of Philippines

February 04, 2006

Your Excellency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic of the Philippines and Atty.
Jose Miguel Arroyo Hon'ble members of the Philippine Congress and
Secretaries of the Government of the Philippines
Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

At the start of the New Year for which I greet you most warmly it is indeed an honour and a delight for me to be in this beautiful country of majestic islands and people known for their warmth, graciousness and hospitality. Philippines is verily the "Pearl of the Orient Sea" as described by your national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Permit me, Madame President, to express my most sincere thanks for the cordiality and courtesies extended to me and to my delegation during our visit.

Excellency, the countries of South East Asia, including the Philippines, constitute an extended neighbourhood with whom India's links go back many centuries. There is a distinctive Indian impress in this part of Asia, a religious, cultural and linguistic stamp which our seafarers brought via Indonesia and the Malaya peninsula, well before the era of European colonisation. Over the years, the Western world brought in its own cultural baggage which overlies this matrix, changing earlier layers in interesting ways, but never entirely obliterating them. National heroes like Dr. Jose Rizal and Mahatma Gandhi, on return from long years of study in the West, fused modern scientific humanism with nationalistic yearnings and sowed thereby, the seeds of freedom in our countries. They showed us how it is possible to be ourselves, while taking pride in our wider connections, to keep the windows of our houses open as it were, to breezes of different cultures, while yet not getting blown off our feet!

In a rapidly globalising world, these lessons are again becoming relevant for countries like ours which today face a dual challenge. The domestic one of managing political, economic and social change in an environment of rising expectations and growing disparities and the global challenge of securing an international environment conducive to meeting our developmental aspirations. These challenges are interlinked and any individual success or failure has the potential to affect all of us.

Fortunately, India and the Philippines are demographically young countries, with an overwhelming percentage of people still below the age of 40. A nation's wealth is its young generation and Governments' role is best performed in energising our youth to achieve their dreams. In my country, this young generation, aided by early and massive Governmental support to Institutions of higher education and a heritage fortuitous in this case of English language proficiency, has enabled India to emerge as a world class service provider in Information Technology. We are now endeavouring to develop core competencies in selected critical technologies of a higher order, both to address our national priorities and to market our companies abroad.

Your country too, has worked hard and become a credible IT enabled service provider to the world and India is ready and willing to join hands in selective partnership with you. In some areas we are in competition with each other for world markets: however, this should only make us more respectful of each others abilities and willing to engage in serious "co-optition", a word coined, I believe, by a prominent Filipino gentlemen, Dr. Bernardo Villegas. However, in IT both our countries have to travel together to transform our nations as a knowledge powered society. On our part, we would like to learn from your animation and graphic skills and also to develop caring and nurturing services, such as Tourism and Nursing, for which the Philippino is justly renowned.

Madame President, it is matter of satisfaction that our bilateral relations are beginning, after a long period of stagnation, to deepen and diversify. Our trade last year grew by 30 percent to US$ 577 million and for the first time, exports from the Philippines to India grew faster than did our exports to you. Our companies have been showing interest in exploring, separately and jointly, opportunities for investment in IT, pharmaceuticals, steel, textiles, motorcycles and auto-parts, in mining and infrastructure. Prospects for technical cooperation between India and the Philippines are excellent in sectors such as dairy and other agro-based industry, CNG for public transport, bio-and thermal energy and in space and defence- related industries. We should work together to increase our bilateral trade to $ US 2 billion before 2010. With our common facility in English there is a world of educational opportunities to explore by institutionalising University level exchanges of students and faculty.

Convergence of our views on global trade issues under the WTO and our common resolve to combat Terrorism provide a valuable base for mutual understanding. Let us resolve to unleash the existing human resource for which our two countries are famous and enable easier access to each other's shores. I am certain that in doing so, we shall find much gain. We are grateful to the Philippines for supporting our participation, in the first East Asia Summit, which we hope would lead to an Asian Economic Community over time. Our Prime Minister is looking forward to visiting the Philippines later this year when it assumes Chairmanship of ASEAN. We hope that you too Madame President will find an early opportunity to visit India as your father did as Vice President in 1960s.

Independent India has always viewed its destiny as inseparable from that of Asia. The quest at Bandung in 1955 to establish a peaceful, prosperous and equitable world, led India's Government to unveil, a decade ago, its "Look East Policy", which has today become a very dynamic part of our diplomacy. The rapid growth of trade and investment and multiple links today between India and East Asia, are witness to its positive results. The Philippines, which lies in the cusp of Southeast and East Asia, is of great interest to this strategic vision which remains incomplete without your country's fullest participation in it.

The memory of Jawaharlal Nehru of India and Carlos P. Romulo of the Philippines, friends who played a major part in Bandung, at the least deserves that we pay attention to completing their unfinished task. Given our mutual commitment to democratic ideals, our talented diasporas, our shared history and geography and above all, our shared desire for national growth with dignity, it is logical that we work together, to realise our vital common stake in the emerging world order.

May I request Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, to join me in a toast:

  • to the health and well being of the President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,
  • the prosperity and well being of the country and its friendly people
  • to abiding friendship and cooperation between India and the Philippines


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