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We love the Bhangra rap from London just as you like the English novel from India: Narendra Modi

Excerpts from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech to the British parliament on Thursday, November 12.

Written by Narendra Modi | Updated: November 14, 2015 12:00:59 am
The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow (L) listens as India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses members of the British Parliament in London, November 12, 2015. REUTERS/Dan Kitwood/Pool The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow (L) listens as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses members of the British Parliament in London. (Source: Reuters)

I am truly honoured to speak at the British parliament.

So much of the modern history of India is linked to this building. So much history looms across our relationship. There are others who have spoken forcefully on the debts and dues of history. I will only say that many freedom fighters of India found their calling in the institutions of Britain. And, many makers of modern India, including several of my distinguished predecessors, from Jawaharlal Nehru to Dr Manmohan Singh, passed through their doors.

There are many things on which it is hard to tell anymore if they are British or Indian: The Jaguar or Scotland Yard, for example. The Brooke Bond tea or my friend the late Lord Gulam Noon’s curry. And, our strongest debates are whether the Lord’s pitch swings unfairly or the wicket at Eden Gardens cracks too early. And, we love the Bhangra rap from London just as you like the English novel from India.

On the way to this event, Prime Minister Cameron and I paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi outside parliament. I was reminded of a question I was asked on a tour abroad. How is it that the statue of Gandhi stands outside the British parliament? To that question, my answer is: The British are wise enough to recognise his greatness, Indians are generous enough to share him, we are both fortunate enough to have been touched by his life and mission, and we are both smart enough to use the strengths of our connected histories to power the future of our relationship.

So I stand here today not as a visiting head of government given the honour to speak in this temple of democracy. I am here as a representative of a fellow institution and a shared tradition. And tomorrow, the prime minister and I will be at Wembley. Even in India, every young footballer wants to bend it like Beckham. Wembley will be a celebration of one-and-a-half million threads of life that bind us; 1.5 million people — proud of their heritage in India, proud of their home in Britain. It will be an expression of joy for all that we share: Values, institutions, political system, sports, culture and art. And it will be a recognition of our vibrant partnerships and a shared future.

The UK is the third largest investor in India, behind Singapore and Mauritius. India is the third largest source of foreign direct investment projects in the UK. Indians invest more in Britain than in the rest of the European Union combined. It is not because they want to save on interpretation costs, but because they find an environment that is welcoming and familiar.

Strong as our partnership is, for a relationship such as ours, we must set higher ambitions. We are two democracies, two strong economies, and two innovative societies. We have the comfort of familiarity and the experience of a long partnership. Britain’s resurgence is impressive. Its influence on the future of the global economy remains strong. And India is the new bright spot of hope and opportunity for the world. This is not just the universal judgement of international institutions. It is not just the logic of numbers: A nation of 1.25 billion people with 800 million under the age of 35 years. This optimism comes from the energy and enterprise of our youth; eager for change and confident of achieving it. It is the result of bold and sustained measures to reform our laws, policies, institutions and processes.

The motto of sabka saath, sabka vikas is our vision of a nation in which every citizen belongs, participates and prospers. It is not just a call for economic inclusion. It is also a celebration of our diversity, the creed of social harmony, and a commitment to individual liberties and rights. This is the timeless ethos of our culture; this is the basis of our Constitution; and this will be the foundation of our future.

This is a huge moment for our two great nations. So, we must seize our opportunities, remove the obstacles to cooperation, instil full confidence in our relations and remain sensitive to each other’s interests. In doing so, we will transform our strategic partnership, and we will make this relationship count as one of the leading global partnerships. Ever so often, in the call of Britain’s most famous Bard that we must seize the tide in the affairs of men, the world has sought the inspiration to act. And so must we.

But, in defining the purpose of our partnership, we must turn to a great son of India, whose house in London I shall dedicate to the cause of social justice on Saturday. Dr B.R. Ambedkar, whose 125th birth anniversary we are celebrating now, was not just an architect of India’s Constitution and our parliamentary democracy. He also stood for the upliftment of the weak, the oppressed and the excluded. And he lifted us all to a higher cause in the service of humanity, to build a future of justice, equality, opportunity and dignity for all humans, and peace among people. That is the cause to which India and the UK have dedicated themselves today.

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