SPEECH AT THE BANQUET HOSTED BY THE VICE-PRESIDENT OF INDIA - 1992-11-14
Your Excellency the Vice President, Your Excellencies, Members of Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is for me a sincere pleasure, indeed, to be back in India, this great country with which my family and I have had close historical links that go back no less than five generations. Your generosity and courtesy have been so gracious to me.
Your Excellency, you have been warm and complimentary in your remarks about my family, myself and the contribution that the Ismaili community and the institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network have made here in India. But this contribution would not have been possible without the encouragement, support and cooperation that we have received from the government of India and its various institutions.
Since my last visit, many changes have taken place in our world. The end of the Cold War, the dismantling of the Soviet Union, the emergence of newly-independent states, worldwide economic uncertainty, exploding ethnic forces - all must cause us to reflect on the horizons of our future.
One result of these changes is that the imposition of certain long-held political and economic dogma on the human mind is disappearing, leaving greater space for the human intellect to make pragmatic decisions. Also, resources, hopefully, will, but only in due course, be available in larger quantities, permitting development to be quicker. Society is thus likely to become more meritocratic, demanding performance at the highest levels of competence, and concomitant accountability.
As a founder member of the non-aligned movement and a respected forerunner of the trend that led to independence from colonial rule for so many countries in Asia and Africa, India stands, once again, at the threshold of a new world order. Only this time India brings to the world its deep experience of the vicissitudes of development in an increasingly technology-oriented world of globally inter-linked economies. India, by virtue of its strong democratic traditions, has been able to brave the vagaries of economic fortune and the multitude of societal pressures to which they have given rise. It also offers opportunities for individuals and institutions in the private sector, as well as non-governmental organisations, to effect, with the cooperation of public sector agencies and multi-lateral organisations, greater improvements in the living conditions of people in the developing world.
The initiatives that the government has taken towards liberalising the economy have been widely welcomed. These efforts, it must be acknowledged, are not easy to undertake. The government of India's courageous steps in this direction bear witness to its recognition of the need for an enabling environment.
As the possibilities increase for unleashing India's vast energies for the betterment of its populations, those of its regional neighbours and the developing world, this enabling environment will, I am sure, continue to reflect the spirit of tolerance and understanding among peoples of all faiths and opinions that has been a constant goal for India's actions nationally and internationally.
The Aga Khan Development Network and I are convinced that within the spirit of enlarged cooperation and partnership with government, which has been such a welcome feature of this visit, we will be able to enlarge, enhance and accelerate our contribution to India's development.
I am most grateful to the government and the people of India for the warm and most generous hospitality that has been accorded to me.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I request you to join me in proposing a toast -- to the President of the Republic of India, the Vice President Shri K. R. Narayanan and the people of India for good health, happiness and prosperity.