June 15, 2021
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For The Record

'Non-Alignment Has Lost Its Meaning'

The US foreign secretary gushed about the Indo-USA nuclear deal and the possibility of working together but let fly a barb on the irrelevance of NAM. The MEA says India remains committed to the ideals of NAM.

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'Non-Alignment Has Lost Its Meaning'
'Non-Alignment Has Lost Its Meaning'

Remarks At the U.S.-India Business Council 32nd Anniversary 'Global India' Summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC, June 27, 2007

Well, I'd first like to thank you for asking me to join you here at this wonderful gathering. I'd like to thank my good friend, Bob Blackwill, for that wonderful introduction. Bob and I go back a long way. I worked for Bob in the first Bush Administration, but I know that you all know him as someone who has been devoted to U.S.-India relations and who serves so admirably as United States Ambassador to India. Bob, thank you for your dedication.

I'd also like to note that I see one of Bob's very distinguished predecessors here from Embassy New Delhi. I think that Ambassador Frank Wisner is here and I want to thank him for joining us this afternoon.

I see a lot of friends here and I won't try to name them all, but I do want to note that my good friend, former Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen is here. Let me recognize from India Minister Nath and Ambassador Sen.

And I am very pleased also that I can join the members of the U.S.-India Business Council and its leadership, who have done so much. So thank you to Chairman Kaye, Mr. Ron Somers, for allowing me to be with you at this august occasion.

Now, I'm going to make just a very few comments because I thought that you might like to have a chance to ask questions of me instead. I am an academic, and academics have a habit of going on in 50-minute increments -- largely because the students before them have no choice but to sit there. But you do have a choice and you have chosen to spend this time with me, and so I'll make a few brief comments and then perhaps we can take two or three questions.

This Council has helped to lead the way in transforming the relationship between India and the United States. For decades, while our governments were estranged, it was groups like this one that nurtured the ties between our citizens, between our businesspeople, our entrepreneurs, our students and our teachers. It was groups like this that laid the firm foundations of partnership on which we in government are now building, both in Delhi and in Washington. It's not unusual that sometimes citizens are ahead of their governments. I'm just glad that our governments are finally catching up.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: As you well know, the recent burst in energy and activity between India and the United States, in fact, builds on a long history. But that relationship has reached new heights under the leadership of Prime Minister Singh and President Bush. It has reached new heights, though, not because of the government-to-government relationship, because -- but because this relationship is the story of peoples – one from the world’s largest democracy, one from the world’s oldest democracy – two peoples coming to know one another, cooperating with one another, and strengthening one another.

Today -- and this is something that I was very proud of as an academic -- more American students are electing to study abroad. They're studying -- many of them -- in India, in places like Delhi, and Mumbai, and Bangalore. And the number of Indian students studying in America is also growing dramatically. It grew by 50 percent last year alone. As you know, the trade and investment between our economies has never been higher – touching on nearly every sphere of human endeavor. Together, our scientists are examining the nature of life on earth and exploring the mysteries of the heavens. And then, of course, there are the many thousands of Americans living in India, drawn there by its rich culture and its surging economy – as well as the nearly 2.5 million Americans who trace their family history back to the towns, and the cities, and the villages of India.

This points to an enduring fact of American life that is absolutely essential to remember today, essential to remember as we debate in our country issues of immigration, seriously and passionately. The sons and daughters of India, like you, who have made your homes in the United States – who have worked hard and played by the rules, who have embraced democratic ideals and joined our social fabric – you have added to our country’s character, and you have made America more American for all of our fellow citizens. 

I'm happy to say that India and the United States are accomplishing a great deal together, these days, but I would submit that we're only just scratching the surface of what we can do.

The key that unlocks so much of our potential is our partnership: the fact that as partners, democratic partners, we can do much that is good in the world. And one of the keys to our partnership is the U.S.- India Civil Nuclear Initiative. I know that there are many in this room who have worked very hard with us to support the overwhelming, bipartisan passage of the Hyde Act – and I want to thank you for the role that you've played. This is a huge step forward. We're not quite there yet. But with will and determination and more hard work to do, I am certain that we will reach final agreement and be in a position to complete this deal by the end of the year.

Wrapping up this agreement will open new doors of cooperation for us in the nuclear field. I can remember that in many quarters, people did not think this possible. It is possible and when we have done this, we will open even more doors in business and science, in agriculture and development, for energy and the environment, and of course, perhaps most importantly, to help strengthen and safeguard international security.

The greatest opportunity for our countries, now and in the years ahead, is not just to continue, though, building a strong relationship, a strong partnership, but it's putting that partnership to use in the world, on behalf of the interests and the ideals that we share.

We in America look to the rise of India as an opportunity, a chance to work with a great fellow democracy to share not only the benefits of the international system, but indeed, the burdens and the responsibilities of maintaining it, of strengthening it, and defending it. We are eager to continue charting a global partnership with India, one that addresses the global challenges upon which the safety and success of every nation now depends: stemming nuclear proliferation, fighting terrorism, combating disease, protecting the environment, supporting education and upward mobility, expanding economic development, and promoting freedom under the rule of law.

And I would just say there is an area of our partnership that I hope we can revitalize and where we need to do somewhat better and that is in the support of global free trade for the benefit both of our citizens and for the poorest members of our international community. I have said before that failing to realize the promise of Doha would be a historic missed opportunity. I stand by that. It would be a tragedy and a true shame if we did not complete this historic agreement. And I hope that working together, we can make it possible to do so. Plus, in order to create a partnership for our future and to fully realize it, we are going to have to move past old ways of thinking and old ways of acting.

In some ways, we already have begun to do that. And I know that there are some who still talk about non-alignment in foreign policy. But maybe that made sense during the Cold War when the world really was divided into rival camps. Now the question that I would ask is, as fellow democracies with so many interests and principles in common at a time when people of every culture, every race, and every religion are embracing political and economic liberty, what is the meaning of non-alignment?

It has lost its meaning. One is aligned not with the interests and power of one bloc or another, but with the values of a common humanity. How can we not afford to join each other, on a global scale, to support opportunity and prosperity and justice and dignity and health and education and freedom and democracy? Oh, there will be differences; differences of policy, differences of tactics, from time to time, differences of strategy.

But with India, a good and strong emerging multiethnic democracy, there will not be differences about what we are trying to achieve: a world that is freer, a world that is more prosperous, and a world that is more just. We can do this not just bilaterally, but multilaterally as well, working with other free nations like Japan and Australia and Korea and our allies in Europe, working with other large multiethnic, multi-religious democracies like Brazil and Indonesia and South Africa.

Together, we can strive for effective, principled multilateralism, but based on our common values: to shape an international order in accordance with those values that we hold so dear.

It's not going to be easy, but it is a challenge that is worthy of two great democracies, worthy of India and the United States. It is a challenge to which I think we are equal. I know it is a challenge to which we are committed.

I thank you for all that you have done to lay the groundwork for addressing that challenge, to all that you have done to make it possible for this partnership to be built on the firmest foundation -- the friendships between peoples. Thank you very much and now I'd be happy to take your questions. 

Question: Madame Secretary, in the first -- what you have done to transform the U.S.-India relations is unbelievable and we as an Indian American community salute you for your work, number one.

Number two, U.S.-India civil nuclear is the relationship which we feel as Indian American that in this country for 27 years that's the best thing can happen for next 50 years. And we are with you and we strongly believe and optimistic that is happened. I hope that the United States Government and the Government of India, these ambassadors here, will work and make it happen next two months. It is very essential that it happens and I wanted to hear from you your comment and how you feel about that.

Condoleezza Rice: Yes, well, thank you. Well, I feel that we have strong commitment on the parts of --part of both governments because we have strong commitment on the part of our leaders. When President Bush and Prime Minister Singh went down this road of trying to break the barriers to civil nuclear cooperation, they knew that it would be historic. They knew that it would be path-breaking and they therefore knew that it would be difficult. Had this been easy, it would have been done a long time ago. And so the judgments that leaders make is -- not is it difficult, but is it worth it. And they have both clearly made the decision that it's worth it. That means that those of us who are then charged with making it happen have to be tireless in our efforts to make certain that it does happen.

What are we talking about here? We are talking about bringing into the international framework for nonproliferation a country that has a very good record on nonproliferation. We are talking about bringing into a framework that would allow civil nuclear energy cooperation a nation that has significant energy needs and would like to meet those energy needs while reducing its reliance on carbon-based sources of energy. We are doing this with a country that if it does not reduce its reliance on carbon-based sources of energy will continue to contribute and indeed that contribution will accelerate to greenhouse gas emissions and to the climate change problem. We are talking about doing this with a country for whom economic development cannot afford to slow given the population and, therefore, reliable clean sources of energy are critical. And we're talking about doing it in a way that will make it possible for American companies to become a vehicle for the realization of civil nuclear power in India.

I think that this is a win/win if ever there were one. And I know that it has broken some of the old taboos about how to deal with this problem. But I'm quite confident that if we keep after it, if we stay faithful to the agreements that our leaders signed, if we stay faithful to the legislation that we have passed, we can work out the 123 implementing agreement, we can get the approval of our Congress, ratification in India, and we can move forward.

I would note it's not the last step. We still have other work to do with Nuclear Suppliers Group and so forth. But I cannot tell you how much the world is watching to see if we can complete this, because if we can we are on our way to a tremendous future not just in this area but in many other areas as well.

So thank you for the very nice words, but I think it was -- frankly, it was only a matter of time before two leaders who were visionary enough realized that they had to break this particular logjam so that the U.S.-India relationship can flourish. And I myself am dedicated to getting it done and we need to get it done by the end of the year.

Question: Hello. Yes, Madame Secretary, I think I've had a long relationship with the United States in my profession and I've always believed that the two people were so similar the countries would come together. The question that still remains a bit grey in my mind is we have both the countries being democracies have domestic politics, domestic compulsions, and they have growth and the international aspect of globalization.

I find still difficult to reconcile fully how these can be measured up to the expectations of each of the peoples of the countries and I would be very grateful if you could share some insight and your views in this regard. Thank you.

Condoleezza Rice:  Yes. Well, one of the hardest challenges for democratically elected governments is not only do they have expectations that when their people actually participate in electing their leaders, they expect a lot of them, and of course, they also have the means to tell those elected leaders that they haven't measured up. That's the very nature of democracy.

And yes, it's hard, because I do think that in a globalized world, in a world in which media is so prevalent, 24-hour media and everyone can see what's going on everywhere, the expectations of citizens about the ability of nations, countries, to deliver benefits to the widest possible range of citizens has just grown exponentially. If you think about the access to information even now in the most remote areas of any country, people's expectations of what their lives ought to be are much ahead of certainly what their parents' or grandparents' expectations were. That's just the nature of modern society.

But we know a couple of things. We know that democratic societies are those that tend to unleash the creativity of their people in order to be able to help meet those challenges. I have said very often when I have been asked about models where you continue to have authoritarian government and emerging market economies, well, that's fine. But eventually, those are going to come into conflict because you cannot tell people, "Think at work, but not at home." It won't work.

Sooner or later, if you want them to be creative at work and think freely and have ideas and communicate them freely, they're going to do it in the political sphere too. And there, the fact that India, even though it is still a developing country, has, in a sense, a political system that has all of the accordion-like character of a democracy, where differences and interests can be represented, I think puts India ahead of many countries where growth is very rapid but where the political system isn't yet in place to accommodate some of those rising interests.

The second thing that we know is that in order for a democracy to really prosper, people have to believe that even if their lives are not what they would like to be, that their children's lives can be better. The need for democracies to have a strong commitment to and a strong realization of the concept of upward mobility is absolutely fundamental. And so education is more key in a democracy than in any other kind of system.

And one of the things that I have been very proud of is that we do have students going back and forth and some of the brightest students of India come to the United States and indeed, some of the brightest students of the United States -- I taught some of them at Stanford -- go to India. But primary and secondary education so that those great universities are available to the widest possible swath of the population is absolutely critical to a democracy.

I've said many times that one of the great things about being a professor at Stanford was that I would stand in front of a class, and sitting right next to a student who was a fourth-generation Stanford legatee was a student who was the child of an itinerant farm worker. And at the end of the experience of going to higher education, it really wasn't going to matter where they came from. It was only going to matter where they were going. So upward mobility in democratic societies is absolutely critical to their stability.

Finally, we know, and this is now affirmed worldwide, that the power of the market, the power of private enterprise, the power of letting people have an idea and commercialize it and make money from it and therefore employ a lot of others who can then benefit as a result of that idea, is the key to economic development. It is the only development model that's left in the world.

So if we think about how to meet rising expectations, I think we've put together three elements. We put together a democratic political system, we put together a free market system, and we put together a system that protects and promotes upward mobility so that people of all classes and people of all races and religions and of both genders can progress. I see that both in India and the United States it's possible to see those elements. It's not that the work is done, whether you are in an emergency democracy like -- in an emerging state like India or a mature democracy like the United States. It's something that you have to work at every day. But I think if we are very attentive to those elements, we will have democracies that can -- can indeed meet the expectations of their people.

And in fact, just to make one final comment, one reason that I love talking about places like India, Brazil or the United States, is great multiethnic democracies are the wave of the future.

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