Your Excellency, Mr. Benjamin William Mkapa,
President of the United Republic of Tanzania
Madam Anna Benjamin Mkapa,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I extend my greetings to you and to the people of Tanzania. It is an honour for me to be in your midst today in your beautiful country. I would like to thank you for the very warm welcome given to me and to our delegation on arrival in Dar-es-Salaam. I am sure that my visit will strengthen our mutual friendship and solidarity. India has always had a special place for Tanzania in its foreign policy. Similarly Tanzania has a special place for India.

Mr. President, a geographical distance exists between our nations, but there are many commonalities between us. Some 2000 years ago, Indian travellers began sailing across the Indian Ocean to reach the East African coast mainly for the purpose of trade and commerce. Their small and sometimes sporadic ventures became more regular in the early 19th Century. This is the result of the Indian Philosophy.

It means, the whole world is our home, and every person in the world is a kith and kin. This process led to many Indians making your great nation as their home, leading to the creation of a pluralist and multi-religious society, which is a shining example of the African continent. I understand that the immigrant community has made many contributions to the economic and social development of your nation, especially in trade and industry. I am told that some of them even participated in Tanzania’s Independence Movement. As we in India, had struggled to rid ourselves of the colonial yoke, we also watched the continued dominance of Africa by colonial forces with concern and extended our full support for your freedom movement.

Ever since you attained your freedom, we in India have seen with admiration your nation’s uninterrupted march as a standard bearer of unity, democracy, civilian rule, social cohesion and stability. The Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s role and leadership in the fight against colonialism and racism is very well known in our country. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was for long years in the vanguard of the anti-colonial struggle, racism and apartheid. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundations for our strong mutual understanding on a wide cross-section of major global issues. This mutual understanding also extended to areas of vital interest to each other. Our leaders have since maintained a regular exchange of visits at the highest levels.

You have visited India in December 2002, which we remember with happiness. That led to the nucleation of a number of proposals for promoting bi-lateral relationship between our countries. I am visiting the African Continent when we together face the challenge of globalization and rapid technological advancement. Globalization today is a reality and a compulsion and the challenge is to implement policies, which cause minimum social disruption in our developmental process. In this, your visionary leadership is evident, Mr. President, as you have been a unanimous choice for the Co-chairmanship of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization.

Tanzania is a symbol of the evolving aspirations of a resurgent Africa wishing to pursue a democratic path for responsible governance and finding internal solutions to regional conflicts. Your country is a firm supporter of regional organizations and cooperation reflected by your personal efforts to revitalize regional integration efforts through institutions such as the South African Development Community and the East African Community. We in India are interested in seeing the robust economic development of your nation. We are very happy to note that Tanzania’s economy has grown at a rate of about 5.5% in recent years, which is one of the highest rates of growth in Africa. Your government like ours has its major focus on economic reforms, liberalization, development and poverty alleviation.

Mr. President, my nation is also determined to forge ahead on the fast track of progress. We have a vision to become a developed nation by the year 2020. We are focusing on five areas of importance in an integrated manner. These are education and health care, agriculture and food processing, Information and Communication Technology, infrastructure development and self-sufficiency in critical technologies.

Both our nations have to face the challenges of the new millennium jointly through the strengthening of institutions. Tanzania has been a steady co-partner with India on this journey. There is an urgent need to democratize the functioning of the United Nations and the Security Council through its expansion to reflect the new global realities. One of the biggest challenges of the new millennium is the rise of terrorism across the globe, which is being experienced by every nation. We in India are determined to fight it. Terrorism has the potential to damage economies and the social harmony of open societies like ours. We in India understand your concerns on this account as terrorism in your neighbourhood can have an adverse impact on your tourism industry as well.

When I am back in the African continent, in your beautiful country, with many rivers and lakes including the Nile, I remember the poem which occurred to me while we sailed in the Blue Nile and reached the confluence of White and Blue Nile at Khartoum. Let me recite a small part of that poem: …When we rivers confluence Oh humanity why not your hearts confluence And you blossom with happiness. … It has been translated in Arabic by one of the Professors in Sudan.

Today, Mr. President, in the new evolving world, cooperation between India and Tanzania has taken new shape. Tanzanian students are making use of India’s educational programmes. India’s higher educational infrastructure is being made use of by many of your students who are enrolled in various institutions of learning. A sizeable number of Tanzanian students are studying in Bangalore, which is one of our prime Information Technology centers with world class IT companies operating from this city.

Tanzania and India can work on their many commonalities to develop synergies, which can lead to a win-win situation for both nations. Tanzania has minerals such as gold, diamonds and the semi-precious stone – Tanzanite. India has the expertise to process and add value to these minerals. Co-operation in this area could be thought of. Joint ventures could be worked out in the field of power generation where we have experience in handling large grids. India can provide support in developing your nation’s hydel power potential through induction of necessary inputs. Cooperation in the development of Tanzania’s railway network can be thought of as India has one of the largest railway networks in the world. India’s expertise and experience in operating a large railway network can be utilized by Tanzania to help it provide greater connectivity with its neighbouring countries. The oil and natural gas sector can be another area with promise in which avenues for co-operation can be explored. Since independence, India has achieved agricultural self-sufficiency and developed capabilities in this sector. India is willing to extend help in this sector by sharing its experience of growing hybrid varieties of rice and maize, which would be suitable for your land. On our part, we would like to gain from the experience of Tanzania in managing its world-famous wildlife sanctuaries and utilizing the associated eco-tourism potential.

I am visiting the island Zanzibar tomorrow and meeting the President of Zanzibar and his team. Also I will interact with the people of Zanzibar. I am sure it will be a memorable visit.

Excellency, before I end, I would like to take this opportunity to convey my greetings and that of my delegation for the warm and friendly hospitality that you have extended. This has further strengthened the deep bonds of friendship between our nations and their people.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I now request you to join me in a toast to the:

  • health and well being of His Excellency President Mkapa and Madam Anna Benjamin Mkapa;
  • progress and prosperity of the friendly people of Tanzania; and
  • further consolidation and strengthening of the traditional friendship between India and Tanzania.