Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the first head of the world’s largest democracy to visit Australia in 28 years. After attending the G20 in Brisbane, he addressed the Australian Parliament today, outlining his vision for the way forward between the two countries. He’s an edited extract of his speech.
Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, my friend, Tony Abbott!
I am the third Head of Government you are listening to this week! I don’t know how you are doing this! May be, this is Prime Minister Abbott’s way of shirt fronting you! But, I am truly honoured and humbled by this opportunity to speak to you.
I stand here as one of you – a representative of the people; I come to you with the greetings of 1.25 billion people of a nation, linked to Australia by the great Indian Ocean; by our connected history and our many shared inheritances- and, even more by our deeply interlinked destinies. And, today I have come to unite in spirit, as we were once by geography – spirit that is fed by many stirring stories of human success and sacrifice.
This morning, Prime Minister and I honoured our soldiers, who 100 years ago made the supreme sacrifice together in the battle of Gallipoli. The man who designed this beautiful capital of Canberra, Walter Burley Griffin, lies buried in the old city of Lucknow in India.
More than 150 years ago, an Australian novelist and lawyer John Lang fought the legal battle for a brave Indian freedom fighter, the Queen of Jhansi, Rani Laxmi Bai against the British East India Company in India’s first War of Independence. He also lies buried in the Indian hill town of Mussoorie.
The statue of Gandhi in Canberra is a symbol of our shared values.
We celebrate the legend of Bradman and the class of Tendulkar together. We are impressed by Australian speed as you are charmed by the Indian spin until of course Shane Warne came along!
But, above all, we are united by the ideals of democracy.
Today, as I stand in this temple of democracy, I consider nations such as ours to be blessed, because democracy offers the best opportunity for the human spirit to flourish, because we have the freedom to choose, the right to speak and the power to remove – and, for us in politics, with no option but to leave with grace.
Generations of people’s representatives have made Australia one of the great nations of the world today. From the vast stretch of territory to the abundance of resources, Nature has been generous to you. But, it is the people of Australia, who have made Australia what it is today: A beacon of democracy and rule of law; a nation that willingly leads the search of a lost aircraft; one of the most prosperous nations in the world;among the best in human development index; a nation with some of the best cities in the world; some of the most productive farms and mines; some of its best universities and research centres; an advanced technology base; and, a nation with great sporting skills.
Australia evokes images not just of immense beauty, but also of a great quality of life. Today, its cities are alive with richness of this world’s diversity. And, it is home to 450,000 Indians, who are as proud to be part of Australia as they are of their Indian heritage.
There was a time when, for many of us, Australia was a distant land on the southern edge of the world.
Today, the world sees Australia to be at the heart of the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean region. This dynamic region holds the key to this world’s future; and Australia is at its cross-currents. And, as Australia has become more engaged in this part of the world, we welcome its growing role in driving this region’s prosperity and shaping its security.
Because we, in India, seek the same future for this world.
We also see Australia as a vital partner in India’s quest for progress and prosperity. There are few countries in the world where we see so much synergy as we do in Australia. India a nation of more than a billion seeking development; Australia a developed country of a few million people and vast resource. Since the turn of this century, India has been the second fastest growing economy in the world. Millions have lifted themselves out of poverty into a new life of possibilities.
Today, we have a government with a clear majority after thirty years. From the remotest village to the biggest cities, there is a new high tide of hope in India; a new energy.
It is the energy of our youth – the 800 million people below the age of 35 – eager for change, willing to work for it – because, now they believe that it is possible. That they can make it happen. It is this force of transformation that we will unleash.
In the six months that we have been in office, we have moved forward, thinking with ambition, acting with speed; seeking growth not just for growth, but to transform the quality of life of every Indian –
I see Australia as a major partner in every area of our national priority.
In providing skills and education to our youth; a roof over every head and electricity in every household; the most affordable healthcare for the most difficult diseases; the next generation of infrastructure that does not take a toll on our environment; Energy that does not cause our glaciers to melt – clean coal and gas, renewable energy or fuel for nuclear power; cities that are smart, sustainable and livable; villages that offer opportunities; agriculture that yields more and farms that are better connected to markets; practices and technology that save water.
We have a new mission for turning “Made in India” into a global name just as Computer in India is. But, we want to find new pathways to prosperity, not simply travel down the roads of the previous century.
Much of India’s future cities and infrastructure is yet to be built and so we have a unique opportunity to make our choices now. And, in every sector – agriculture, food processing, mining, infrastructure, manufacturing, finance and technology, energy; from providing funds and resources to technology and expertise; working as partners and investors -Australia has immense opportunities to participate in India’s progress.
In turn, India will be the answer to your search for new economic opportunities and your desire to diversify your global economic engagement; your source for world class skills at home or for a manufacturing location abroad.
India’s development, demography and demand provide a unique long term opportunity for Australia – and all in the familiar framework of democracy. There is no other example of this nature in the world.
Indian investors, too, are coming here in growing numbers and commitments.
This is an age rich in promise, but also filled with challenges. We can only pursue our dreams, if we have the confidence that our cities are safe, our nations are secure, our region is stable and our world is peaceful.
This vast region has many unsettled questions and new challenges. Historical differences persist despite growing inter-dependence. The oceans are our lifelines. But, we worry about its access and security in our part of the world more than ever before.
Our region has seen huge progress on the foundation of peace and stability.
But, we cannot take this for granted. Preserving it will be the most important task in the region. India and Australia can play their part in it – by expanding our security cooperation and deepening our international partnerships in the region.
But, we do not have to rely on borrowed architecture of the past. Nor do we have the luxury to choose who we work with and who we don’t. But, what we do need is to work together and with others to create environment and culture that promotes the currency of co-existence and cooperation; in which all nations, small and big, abide by international law and norms, even when they have bitter disputes.
We should collaborate more on maintaining maritime security. We should work together on the seas and collaborate in international forums. And, we should work for a universal respect for international law and global norms.
We must also support the process of economic integration across the region and an open global trading system that remains integrated. We must guard against regional trade initiatives becoming instruments of political competition. However, economic integration by itself won’t be a strong basis for peace and stability, without strong regional institutions.
India and Australia are members of several institutions that are critical for this region and the world. We should coordinate more closely in East Asia Summit, G20 and the Indian Ocean Region Association.
In our inter-connected world, our shared challenges extend beyond our region. Terrorism has become a major threat for us all. In India, we have seen its face closely for three decades. And, we see it with the clarity that comes with it.
Terrorism is changing in character and expanding in its reach. Internet has made recruitment and call to violence self-generated. It also feeds off money laundering, drug trafficking and arms smuggling.
We have to deepen our bilateral security cooperation. But, we need a comprehensive global strategy for a global problem. It will require closer security cooperation; but, even more,a policy of no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between nations; a resolve to isolate those who harbour terrorists, willingness to empower states that will fight them; a social movement against extremism in countries where it is most prevalent; and, every effort to delink religion and terrorism.
As I look to the future, we would also need to ensure that outer Space and cyber space remain instruments of connectivity and prosperity, not new frontiers of conflict.
Responding to the region’s disasters, combating proliferation, acting against piracy, we can work together on a full range of security challenges.
Since my Government entered office, no region has seen more intense engagement on India’s part than Asia Pacific region – because we understand how deeply our future is linked to this region. India and Australia can play cricket hard with each other – and I suspect we will next month. But we see Australia as one of our foremost partners in the region.
I was pleased to host Prime Minister Tony Abbott as my first State Guest in September.
Australia will not be at the periphery of our vision, but at the centre of our thought. So, we stand together at a moment of enormous opportunity and great responsibility. I see a great future of partnership between India and Australia and, a shared commitment to realize it. I have come here to set our two countries more firmly on that course. With your help, and with the help of the great people of India and Australia.
I wish you the best for hosting a great and successful World Cup Cricket early next year.
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