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President’s Interview in Accra to Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (June 13, 2016)

June 13, 2016

Interviewer: We are most delighted at your visit to our country Ghana, and a hearty welcome from the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation to you. At the outset, may I ask Your Excellency to place this historic visit in perspective?

Hon. President (Shri Pranab Mukherjee): Thank you very much. I am truly delighted to have the opportunity and respond to the invitation of His Excellency President Mahama for visiting Ghana.

You are aware of the fact that even before actual independence, India built up close relationship with the African continent. Our Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi was baptized to fight against colonial regime in South Africa. India even a year before full independence, snapped trade relations with South Africa which accounted for five per cent of India’s total foreign trade at that point of time. This speaks of our deep relationship with the African continent. And my visit to Ghana at the invitation of His Excellency the President is to deepen and expand our ties.

We deeply appreciate His Excellency President Mahama’s contribution in the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit held in October, 2015 in New Delhi. Therefore, this is a pleasant visit to your beautiful country to reiterate our commitment to African people in general and to people of Ghana in particular.

Surely you are aware of the founding President of the Republic of Ghana Mr. Nkrumah. He and the first Prime Minister of India Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru were the founding pillars of the Non-Aligned Movement. In fact, two African leaders - Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and His Excellency President Kwame Nkrumah - contributed substantially to the Non-Aligned Movement and Indo-African, Afro-Asian combination. Thank you.

Interviewer: Your Excellency, we are most enthused at these initial remarks from you. Going forward, I would like to say that you have been the Head of State of the largest democracy in the world. You also have a public life which spans over five decades. How can Ghana share your experience and wisdom, Excellency?

Hon. President: Our essential bond of friendship and cooperation is democracy. India is the largest democratic country in the world managing a huge diversity in one single country. We have 1.28 billion people, about 1600 dialects, more than 120 languages that are used everyday, all three major ethnic groups - Caucasians, Dravidians and Mongoloids - yet under one Constitution, under one flag. And democracy is the bond between us and Ghana. We consider Ghana as the role model of democracy, peace and stability not only to West Africa but to the whole of Africa.

Interviewer: Your Excellency, Ghana and India have maintained very close relations since their Independence and the relations keep growing and growing for the betterment of the peoples of these two countries. Would you tell us briefly how you see the relations between India and Ghana today?

Hon. President: As I mentioned to you, not only democracy is a strong bond between the two of us, but its manifestation in our multifaceted relationship - trade, investment, economic cooperation, close cooperation in various regional and multilateral fora - speaks of deep relationship and understanding between our two nations. Our trade is expanding. It is around USD one billion. Our investment is about USD one billion and we are expecting to have substantial improvement in investment, in trade as Ghana is already recognized as a low middle income economic and first among the West African countries to reduce its poverty line substantially.

Therefore, I do feel there is immense scope to expand our economic cooperation, create more conducive atmosphere for trade and investment and also share common perceptions on various important international issues like climate change, like counterterrorism which is against the terrorist forces which are a great menace to the peace and tranquility to the whole world.

Interviewer: Your Excellency, we would like to find out from you humbly enough some of your engagements you will be having in Ghana during this historic visit to our country in the context of taking the relations between Ghana and India to another level.

Hon. President: As I mentioned to you, we had many commonalities. Both these countries were exploited by the colonial rulers and they did not allow the full economic and political potentialities of these countries. We got Independence a little ahead of Ghana. From our own experiences we found that the best way to develop a country is to create its own capacity and in our developmental experiences we found that if we can help our friendly countries to develop their capacity, if we can be an instrument in building capacity in those countries, it would be of immense help. I will just give you just a small example.

Take the case of a programme of India which we call ITEC. It is a training programme under Indian technical cooperation arrangement. Every year we give a large number of slots to different countries. We appreciate Ghana has fully utilized the slots given to it by Indian ITEC programme, our scholarship programmes under our Indian Cultural Relations. Therefore we have decided to double these slots. It was one of the important decisions in the 3rd India-Africa Summit that within the next five years we will enhance our support to the extent of USD 10 billion to all the African countries through our line of credit with concessional rate of interests, bilateral aids, and also facilitate the training opportunities because a large number of African statesmen, army personnel from different countries have got their training in Indian training institutes. In this way, we are trying to deepen and expand our cooperation.

Interviewer: Excellent! Mr. President, I am happy you mentioned ITEC because I am a beneficiary of an ITEC programme. I am happy about that one. In 2008 I was in India for that one. So, congratulations for all of us and our gratitude to you. Excellency, moving forward, you are in Ghana for a couple of days. What actually brought you to Ghana? Today, what will you be doing?

Hon. President: Immediately after Independence, our agriculture was highly undeveloped. Emphasizing on research and development on agricultural science, today we have emerged as one of the most leading producers of rice, wheat and instead of being a net importer of food grains, India is now an exporter of food grains. In a couple of years we became the largest producer of rice and wheat. Our total grain production reached 268 million tonnes just a couple of years back. These are the examples of our substantial cooperation in the field of economy.

Take for example investment. We believe that we can be of assistance because the technology which we use is appropriate for the developing countries. The technologies which we borrow from the highly developed countries may be more relatively sophisticated but they are not necessarily appropriate. We emphasize on appropriate technology. Therefore, as I mentioned to you, our whole objective in the developmental cooperation is to share our experiences and learn from each other.

We do not consider that we are superior to anybody; we are equal. We are equal partners in our sufferings, exploitation by the colonial masters, and we are equal in our developmental objectives and moving ahead. Therefore, we do believe our relationship stands on equal footing and we can be benefited from each other’s cooperation, understanding and trust.

Interviewer: This sounds very refreshing to me actually. Going forward, Mr. President, we are living in an increasingly volatile world. India being a major power today, how would you see India’s role in today’s geopolitical context?

Hon. President: I agree with you that it is a volatile situation. For instance, India is suffering from cross-border terrorism for more than three decades and we fully appreciate and understand the efforts made by Ghana to contain terrorism. As we believe, terrorism has no respect for borders, no ideology except wanton destruction, and not even any religion. They believe in destruction.

Therefore what is necessary is that unified action by the civilized world working together in close cooperation with each other to fight against this menace and to save the world from the scourge of terrorism. And here we are hand in hand with the Government and people of Ghana in fighting against terror.

Interviewer: Your Excellency, we come to the end of our discussion. I must humbly say that India started off as a developing nation but today India is brushing shoulders with developed world at all levels …(Inaudible)… and I am sure you must be a proud President of India. How can Ghana emulate the example of India going forward, as you give us your final thoughts on this discussion, Excellency?

Hon. President: As I told you, in our developmental experiences we come across various problems and we can learn from each other’s experiences. It is not that one country has mastery over everything. I will give you an example. From the very beginning India started with democracy, and in course of implementing our democratic process, we recognized that democracy can be successful with the establishment of institutions and without institutional support democratic functioning becomes difficult. After 1992 Constitution, people and Government of Ghana are steadfastly proceeding because of their belief in strengthening their democratic institutions, like Indians. And here the way we can expand and deepen our cooperation, we can share and exchange our views, share our experiences, and adopt the best practices followed by each other to be beneficial to each of us.

Interviewer: Your Excellency, we are most grateful. Thank you very much.

Hon. President: Thank you. And I would like to convey my best wishes to the people of Ghana on behalf of the one billion plus people of India and the Government of India.
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