President Vladimir Putin:
Throughout the epochs the peoples of Russia and India have shown a great ability to understand each other and to absorb the spiritual values of the unique and distinctive cultures of East and West.
Our intellectual communities, our scientists, artists and outstanding figures in both countries, have always maintained particularly close ties and have proposed many joint programmes and initiatives and have used their authority and influence to create many new opportunities for carrying out cultural and education programmes together.
As you know, next year, 2008, has been declared the Year of Russia in India, and in 2009, we will hold the Year of India in Russia. I am sure that these large-scale events will enrich our cultural and public life with bright new colours and give our peoples the chance to get to know each other even better.
This year has been declared the Year of the Russian Language, and it will be marked by a large number of different events in which Russian-language specialists from around the world will take part. I hope that our Indian friends will also take part in these events.
Today, on Republic Day, it gives me special pleasure to present these Russian decorations to prominent figures from India, and it gives me particular pleasure to distinguish those who have put their heart and soul into serving the noble cause of bringing our peoples closer together.
We greatly value the energetic efforts Mrs Nirmala Deshpande has made to establish the India-Russia Friendship Society. This public organisation has enriched our cooperation with new ideas and projects.
We value the friendly feelings that Mr Sankar Basu has for our country. He is a well known expert in Russian studies and a brilliant teacher, and he has done a great deal to maintain our academic contacts and popularise the Russian language and the spiritual heritage of Russia and India.
The cooperation between the Russian Centre for National Glory and Jawaharlal Nehru University and the activities of the Dialogue of Civilisations Foundation are also a fine example of active dialogue between our social and academic circles. This organisation has made a big contribution to developing productive ties between our countries and building on the invaluable experience of tolerant relations between different ethnic groups, faiths and religions. Today, one of the heads of this organisation will award the foundation’s co-chairman, D. Kapoor, the International Prize of St. Andrei the First-Called.
An ancient Indian saying has it that “merits are the pleasing flowers of growing glory, collected with the help of good deeds”. Once again, I want to congratulate our dear Indian friends on their well-earned awards, and I have no doubt that they will perform many more good works for the benefit of our peoples.
I wish you prosperity, health, and, of course, success in your work to strengthen the friendship between Russia and India. Congratulations on the occasion of this national holiday.
Thank you for your attention.
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Vladimir Putin (Concluding remarks):
In conclusion to this official ceremony, allow me once again to congratulate everyone who received an award, including Russian state decorations, today.
I would like to thank all of our Indian friends who are contributing to developing the relations between our two countries.
There is no need, I think, to go right back into the depths of time, but I would just like to say here today that some scholars think that the relations between the peoples who lived in what is today’s Russia and today’s India go very far back indeed, right back to the times of Zarathustra. In modern history too, our peoples have always felt a pull towards each other and have always supported each other.
Today we watch what is happening in India with particular attention and friendly feeling. India has become a fast-growing country with excellent prospects. We are genuinely glad to see the Indian people’s achievements and we wish you success.
Thank you very much.