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Remarks by Ambassador Meera Shankar at the Conferment of Appeal of Conscience Foundation Annual Statesman Award 2010 on PM

New York

Thank you, Dr. Volker, Rabbi Schneier, Dr. Kissinger

I am greatly moved and honoured to accept the Appeal of Conscience World Statesman Award on behalf of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.  I know that the Prime Minister would have very much liked to be here with you today to accept the Award personally because he so highly values the work of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and its profound mission of fostering trust and understanding across religions and cultures.

Rabbi Schneier, your extraordinary mission addresses one of the most important challenges for humanity and one that more than at any other time in human history is critical for the future peace and prosperity of our world  which has become far more integrated and interdependent.

India with its amazing diversity truly represents a “confluence of civilizations”.  The waters of many streams have flowed and mingled into the broad river of Indian civilization. Its hallmark has been both tolerance of differences and universal acceptance; a belief that no one religion has a premium on truth and, indeed, a deep respect for the universal truth which lies at the core of all religions. 

  Today, India is a nation of a billion plus people which is seeking to lift its people out of poverty and build peace and prosperity within a deeply democratic framework which enshrines fundamental human freedoms, respect for human rights, protection of diversity and rule of law.  We have also over the last several years tried to usher in a peaceful and stable external environment, particularly in our neighbourhood. 

We do face enormous challenges, both social and economic. There are also challenges posed by the forces of terrorism and violent extremism that use the ideology of religious intolerance for their political ends.  Our strong democratic foundations and our values of pluralism and tolerance provide us the confidence that we will be able to overcome these challenges. As Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has said, the world has a stake in India’s success which will fundamentally alter the global landscape.  We see the United States as a strong partner in this process based on our shared commitment to democratic values, increasingly convergent interests and our commitment to work together to address global challenges.  We look forward to welcoming President Obama to India in November later this year.

In honouring Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation has honoured a leader of extraordinary statesmanship, vision, intellect and integrity who is guiding the destiny of the world’s largest democracy. 

With this, I would like to thank Rabbi Schneier and the Appeal of Conscience Foundation once again on behalf of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and convey his good wishes for their very important mission. 
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