Ambassador Mansingh, Ambassador Mulford, Senator Clinton, Mayor Williams, Distinguished Guests, Ladies, and Gentlemen. Speaking last reminds me of what someone once remarked about discourse in the U.S. Senate: “Everything has been said, but not everyone has said it!”
Fifty-four years ago, the Republic of India adopted its Constitution. It thereby realized the dream of Mahatma Gandhi by becoming the world’s largest democracy and certainly one of the most diverse democracies. As the democratic movement spreads across the globe, India thus stands as a beacon for how a pluralistic society can function as an effective democracy.
That is why it is such a great pleasure today to celebrate not only the 54th anniversary of India as a Democratic Republic, but the transformation in relations that has occurred between the world’s largest democracy and the world’s oldest democracy. As I am sure this audience knows, there has been an enormous change in the last few years in U.S.-India relations. This was perhaps best epitomized by the recent announcement by President Bush and Prime Minister Vajpayee of the Next Steps in our Strategic Partnership, and by the visit last week of Minister of External Affairs Sinha, who not only met with Secretary Powell, but had two separate meetings at the White House, including an extended visit with the President on the day that he was preparing to deliver his State of the Union address.
Today, India and the United States are facing critical challenges:
Building stability in Asia and beyond,
Most importantly, we will be addressing these challenges together and as partners. And, in doing so, we will be aided by the large and vibrant Indian-America community, which is nearly two million strong and provides a key bond and source of energy between over two countries.
So it is my great privilege, on behalf of the U.S. Government, to extend our best wishes and offer this toast to the Prime Minister of India and the people of the Republic of India, as we celebrate the Republic Day of India and work together in partnership on important issues of our time.