Statements, Speeches, Interviews

Welcome Remarks by Ambassador at Reception in Honour of the President of India

April 21, 2009 at 1900 hrs. Hotel Ritz, Madrid

Madam President,

It is an honour and privilege for me to be given this opportunity to open your first engagement in Madrid.

Today is an historic day for India in Spain - the first time an Indian Head of State has visited this country.

The contact between India in the modern day and contemporary Spain may not have been as frequent as we would have wished - but there are some very noteworthy encounters to recall. From among the most gigantic personalities of modern India, several had a deep interest in Spain and Spanish culture; from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, an ardent internationalist who visited Spain at a difficult time in this country's history, to Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore's interest in literature in the Spanish language, Spain had a hold on the imagination. In our day the encounters between India and Spain have taken many and diverse forms; to cite one extraordinary example, the contemporary philosopher and theologian Raimon Panikkar has synthesized and has come to symbolize the richness of the two cultures.

Madam, it is a privilege for me to request you to address this gathering of the Indian community in Madrid - those who have come here today for this event are our compatriots - Indians who are living, working or studying here; some are Indians whose families left the shores of India more than a generation ago and who have created their new homes in Spain, and some of our guests here today are Indians in spirit and in their hearts because the friendship they bear for India is deep and all encompassing.

Madam, it would be a pleasure for all of us if you would address us.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of India.