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State visit from India: His Majesty's speech

Speech given by His Majesty King Harald during gala dinner at the Royal Palace in honour of the state visit from India by His Excellency President Pranab Mukherjee and Madame Sharmistha Mukherjee, 13 October 2014.

Mr President,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to Oslo and to the Royal Palace. You are the first Indian Head of State to visit Norway.

We Norwegians have always felt a close connection with India. This is due to our longstanding bilateral relations, India’s rich cultural and artistic heritage, its scientific traditions and bold ideas – and, not least, the rapidly growing political and economic ties between our two countries.

In 1947, on your Independence Day, Norway was one of the first countries to recognise the Republic of India. But our bilateral relations extend much further back in time, largely due to shipping and commerce.

To us, the Indian people have always been pioneers of exploration, adventure and globalisation. You were among the first in the wave of immigration that subsequently transformed Norway into a multi-ethnic society.

Mr President, when I visited the Norwegian village of Alvdal some years ago, I learned about one of the first known Indians to have settled in Norway. He was a Hindu guru from Hooghly in your home state, West Bengal. He lived in this Norwegian village until his death in 1945. He once said that “A person who has not lived alone in the mountains, has not yet discovered his soul”.  As we Norwegians too enjoy and appreciate the greatness of nature, I am sure many of us would recognize his wisdom.

In the early 1970s, just after your own distinguished political career began, Mr President, a great many Indian people came to Europe, many to the English-speaking countries.

Also in Norway the Indian community is strong and vibrant, numbering roughly 13 000 in total. While you are here, I hope that you will gain a sense of how much we appreciate the contributions the Indian community makes to the development of our society and to our businesses and industries.

Similarly, Norwegian companies are increasingly investing, trading, and producing in India, as well as outsourcing services to your country. Our cooperation in the field of research and innovation is developing rapidly. We would also like to see more Norwegian students enrol at your excellent higher education institutions.

Mr President, the 21st century has been dubbed “the Asian century”. India will have a great stake in its development. The choices you make will have a real bearing on the rest of the world.

Together with partner countries, you play a pioneering role in bringing about new economic and social achievements – in the areas of climate change, global health and urbanisation, energy, telecommunications, research and innovation, and in the marine and maritime industries.

How can we combine high levels of economic growth with low levels of greenhouse gas emissions? How can we make the best use of polar research in our policies on climate change? How can we together “bend the curve” in our efforts to improve global health, by using innovative technologies to save more lives?

These are some of the areas in which Norway would like to cooperate more closely with India, to the benefit of both our countries.   

We have noted with great interest the ambitions of your newly-elected Government with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, including his agenda of rapid economic and social transformation, and his invitation to foreign investors to engage in commercial cooperation.

Norway stands ready to further expand our partnership, turning the differences between us into assets.

We can offer you technology and know-how, as well as resources and investments that will help to advance your development in the years to come.

You can help us to develop our businesses and industries, improve our ability to innovate and enhance our education, and explore new avenues for collaboration on the global stage. 

Mr President, relations between nations are about relations between people. Your visit will foster more friendships. Our visit to India in 1986, is for the Queen and I, among our most fond memories. The hospitality, colours and the diversity of your country made a strong impression.

Mr President, I would also like to congratulate you on the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr Kailash Satyarthi, which he shares with Ms Malala Yousafzay. A proud moment for your nation - an award to the vibrant Indian civil society! Children’s rights and education are among the most important things we can give our children. In the spirit of Ghandi, the laureate shows a peaceful and heroic engagement for a cause that is relevant to entire humankind.

On this note, looking forward to expanded cooperation and continued friendship, I would like to ask you all to join me in a toast to the President, to the people of India and to the excellent relations between our countries.

 

13.10.2014

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Kong Haralds tale under gallamiddagen til ære for Indias president, Pranab Mukherjee. Foto: NRK