Statements, Speeches, Interviews

Speech by Hon'ble President of India, Shrimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil, at the reception for Indian community and interaction with students

Madrid, Spain, 20th April, 2009

Dear Countrymen,
Members of the Indian Community, and
Friends of India,

I am very happy to be in Spain on my first visit to this country. I reached here only a couple of hours earlier and it is only befitting that my visit to this beautiful country should begin with a meeting with the Indian community and friends of India. I bring with me, greetings and good wishes for you from India.

Relations between India and Spain go back in history. Inspite of the geographical distance we had contacts. After the Panchatantra fables started moving Westward from India in the 6th century, they found their way into Spanish literature in the 13th century, probably through the Arab world and Greece. In the last century the friendship that developed between the Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jimenez and Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore is well known. We all know Columbus, whose voyages across the Atlantic led to general European awareness of the American continents, had actually set out to discover a sea route to India. There have been other memorable journeys since then - Jawaharlal Nehru visited Spain in 1938 to express solidarity with the people of Spain at a very difficult time in Spain's history and spent some days in Barcelona.

Apart from the historical linkages there are many commonalities between the two countries. Both are vibrant democracies and follow the parliamentary system of government. Both countries have rich cultural heritage. Institutions have been set up in both countries for promotion of these cultures in each other's territory. There is regular exchange of cultural troupes and film delegations. This has resulted in growing interest among the people of both countries in each other, enhanced people-to-people contacts and larger number of visits.

The Government of Spain stood by us at the time of the Mumbai attacks in November last year. The expression of support received by us from the Government and the people of Spain was, indeed, heart-warming. There is no cause that justifies violence against unarmed civilians. There is no religion that preaches hatred and intolerance. The Mumbai attack and terrorist attacks in other parts of the world, including in Madrid have highlighted the importance of effective international cooperation against terrorism. All States have agreed to international commitments and obligations for preventing and countering terrorism and it is important that they be adhered to, so that such incidents do not happen.

Like India, Spain has some of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world and the number of Indian students studying here has been growing. I am glad that we have among us today some Indian students studying at the famous Instituto de Empresas. There are also students here who have achieved high proficiency in their studies in the frontier areas of science. Your studies and research are a valuable part of India's status as a knowledge power.

I am proud that Indians have made significant contributions to the development of this country and earned the respect of the local population. The Indian Diaspora is emerging as a major economic, social and cultural force. In recognition of this, the Government of India every year celebrates the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to honour the contribution made by overseas Indians. If Indian culture and Indians are known and loved in Spain, the credit for this goes to you - you have established societies and groups devoted to India. You have labored to add luster to India's profile and we thank you most warmly. I urge all of you to continue to contribute to the promotion of closer relations between the two countries.

I wish you all success in your endeavors.

Thank You,

Jai Hind!