Remarks at the Vibrant Gujarat Opening Ceremony
Secretary of State
Mahatma Mandir, Gandhinagar
January 11, 2015
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Prime Minister Modi and Secretary General Ban, many famous ministers, trade representatives, the prime ministers – ladies and gentlemen, I fear we have reached that magical moment in an event when just about everything has been said, but not everybody has said it. (Laughter.) For me it is a privilege to be able to be here for many reasons, but perhaps most importantly, I’m personally delighted to be back in India, and to join you for the seventh Vibrant Gujarat summit. Particularly because this is the home state of your visionary prime minister, your prime minister who has brought a particular energy to this transformational moment, but also because he has already made the name Gujarat synonymous with possibilities, with change, with energy. (Applause.)
And I know it is because of his reputation for what he achieved in the course of his leadership here in Gujarat, that the people of India have now given him this very special mandate to help make this the moment that we all come together to achieve the goals that Secretary Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Jim Kim, and others have described here this morning.
It is also particularly exciting for me, I’m told that this morning we are all of us talking to you about 95 percent of the people responsible for 95 percent of the GDP of India. So this is an amazing opportunity.
I know that President Obama is very excited and particularly pleased with the fact that he will be the first United States president to be honored as Chief Guest on Republic Day – (applause) – and he will be the first sitting United States president to visit India twice while in office. (Applause.) Let me make it clear: We believe that that purposefully says something important about the value that both countries place on our critically important relationship.
There are an amazing number of thoughtful leaders here today, some of whom like our friends from the Netherlands, the Dutch who have made themselves particularly visible and energetic this morning. (Laughter.) But let me just say something that I feel that I think everybody shares. We may all come from different walks of life, but we stand together this morning with the people of France as they march in tribute to the victims of last week’s murderous attack on the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. And we stand together not just in anger and outrage, but in solidarity and commitment to the cause of confronting extremism and in the cause that extremists fear so much and that has always united our countries – freedom. We stand together in freedom and together we make it clear that no act of terror will ever stop the march of freedom. (Applause.)
I want to emphasize, not to the exclusion of any other country – there are many countries here who share this particular belief – but the United States and India are two countries, literally defined in our documents that create us as a nation, defined by our commitment to freedom, to innovation, to the belief that all things are possible. President Obama often tells people that only in America would his particular journey have been possible. And Prime Minister Modi’s journey from a young man who sold tea right by the railroad right here in Gujarat to the Prime Minister’s residence on Race Course Road seems no less improbable. (Applause.) So we join you in celebrating the extraordinary chapter of India that is being written today.
I am especially pleased to be joined here today by two key leaders from our Administration, the leaders of the U.S.-India relationship: Ambassador Rich Verma and Assistant Secretary Nisha Desai Biswal. Half a century ago, Ambassador Verma’s parents left India – a country they loved and have never stopped loving – to build a life in the United States. Today, I couldn’t be more pleased that we have returned the favor by sending Rich Verma, our first Indian-American Ambassador, to India. (Applause.) And Nisha, who is here today, was born right here in Gujarat, and she is now here as the Assistant Secretary of State of the United States and my principal adviser on strengthening the U.S.-India partnership. (Applause.)
Every nation prides itself in any number of different things. One of the things that we share with a number of nations, but we particularly pride ourselves in, is the benefit that our country gains from diversity. And frankly, this belief in opportunity, even against long odds, is unique to India and the United States in many ways. Our founding documents begin with exactly the same three words: “We the people.” (Applause.) And our innovators and entrepreneurs are constantly pushing the curve of discovery, constantly believing in the possibilities of the future.
I’ve been coming to India now for many years. In fact, I remember traveling here at the end of the Cold War, a young senator, when nerves were still raw and suspicions still lingered. But as a senator, I began to see how profoundly this relationship could change quickly.
When I traveled to Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore with executives from companies and high-tech industries, I was immediately overwhelmed by the sense of possibility, by the promise, by the entrepreneurial passion. And I believe very strongly that today the moment has literally never been more ripe to deliver on the incredible possibilities of relationships between all of our countries.
If we work together, with partners who are here and some who are not here today, I am convinced that the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy can help to forge a new era of shared possibility and security for hundreds of millions of people in India, but indeed, across Asia, and across the world. We can do exactly what Jim Kim said: We could end extreme poverty in our lifetimes. (Applause.)
In fact, our economic partnership is already growing stronger by the day. Annual trade in goods and services between the United States and India has grown nearly five-fold since 2000 alone. Bilateral foreign direct investment now stands at nearly $30 billion. And our trade and investment supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in both of our countries and in other countries that are partnering here. The fruits of this kind of partnership are extraordinary, and the supply chain for goods and services now stretches not just one country to another but between many different countries.
Here’s the truth, and this is what is important at a meeting like this: We can do more together, and we must do more together, and we have to do it faster. That’s why I’m here this week, because I want to ensure that our economic relationship grows stronger in every respect. We share Prime Minister Modi’s goal of increasing our countries’ annual trade fivefold in the years ahead, and we want to expand our commercial ties and change the way our businesses talk with one another so we can take this relationship, and these relationships is plural, to the new heights that we envision.
And I want to emphasize, we do not view this as a zero-sum competition where we have to fight exclusively for what we want or what India, United States would have – all of us have an ability to take charge of the opportunities that are staring us in the face. When you consider – I think Jim Kim mentioned these numbers – the number of people living in extreme poverty around the world today, the numbers of schools that need to be built, the number of hospitals that need to be built, the roads that need to be built, the energy grids that need to be changed, the unbelievable opportunity to tourism by (inaudible) travel, we are building an endless set of possibilities, and it through this kind of meeting that we will harness the energy to make the most of those possibilities.
I am convinced, as we look to the relationship of the future though, just as Ban Ki-moon mentioned a few minutes ago, there is one enormous cloud hanging over all of us which requires responsibility from leaders. Global climate change is already violently affecting communities not just across India but around the world. It is disrupting commerce, development, and economic growth. It’s costing farmers crops. It’s costing insurance companies unbelievable payouts. It’s raising the cost of doing business, and believe me, if it continues down the current trend-line, we will see climate refugees fighting each other for water and seeking food and new opportunity.
So this is a relationship between India and the United States where we believe very deeply that we could turn sustainable economic growth opportunities into a prosperity we have ever seen before. And it means one very simply thing: Unlike many problems in public life where you struggle sometimes between the plusses and minuses of a particular choice you make – and leaders here all know and business leaders all know what I’m talking about – the choices of climate change offer an unprecedented number of plusses, and frankly, almost no downside. If we make the choices that are staring us in the face, the fact is that a solution to climate change is already here. It’s called energy policy. Sustainable energy policy. And in a sustainable energy policy comes a whole set of benefits to our economy, something many countries of the world are screaming for today.
The world that changed the United States creation of wealth in the 1990s was a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users. And we created wealth through every single sector of the American economy. It was the technology revolution – communications, principally. The world we’re looking at today, the energy market, is a $6 trillion market with four to five billion users today, potentially, and up to 9 billion users by the year 2050, if population meets the current trends. My friends, that’s the greatest market human beings have ever known. And if we seize it properly, our ability to bring modern resources to the task is unlimited.
That means we need to join together to take advantage of the challenge that was laid down by Prime Minister Modi who has now committed to greatly expand India’s wind resources, make your agricultural systems more resilient, increase your national solar mission fivefold. And together, we can create an environment where all of our companies play leading roles in bringing cutting-edge technologies, equipment, capital, and know-how not just to India but to countless countries that need this growth and development now. That’s how we will turn Prime Minister Modi’s “Make in India” initiative a win-win opportunity for the planet as a whole. (Applause.)
So I just close by saying to all of you that I can’t think of a moment in the years I’ve been in public life when our destinies are converging as significantly as they are today. India and the United States I think have a common responsibility, together with our other country partners, a common opportunity to prove that democracies can deliver for their citizens, and frankly, that by doing so that is when we are at our strongest. It is also when we’re at our most secure. And that’s how we will capitalize on the full potential inherent in this partnership now and for generations to come.
I was very taken during Prime Minister Modi’s campaign by (in Hindi) – (applause) – participate in the (inaudible). I tell you what, that sounds like a pretty good slogan for all of us to adopt, and if we adopt it, we can get the job done. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)