Remarks at the 17th annual session of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) - Anaheim on June 25, 1999

I am most delighted to be invited to the Inaugural Luncheon of the 17thAAPI Convention. Today, I have three responsibilities to discharge. First, I would like to bring to you the greetings and good wishes of the Government and the people of India and of Ambassador Naresh Chandra, who is unable to be here. We regard AAPI as one of the most influential professional organisations of the people of Indian origin in the United States. The mightiest and the wealthiest in the world find themselves vulnerable and helpless when they are struck down by ailments. They have to submit themselves to doctors unconditionally as only doctors can heal them. You bring comfort and solace to Millions of people when they need you most. No wonder the world considers yours the noblest of professions. As the organisation of lifesavers, AAPI commands universal respect and admiration.


My second responsibility is to congratulate Dr. Kalpalata Guntupalli and her team on having completed a most successful tenure at the helm of the AAPI. You may recall Dr. Guntupalli's words at her inauguration. She said at that time that, for a woman to be successful at her job, she had to be twice as successful as a man. She then added after a pause that it was not difficult to do that! She proved beyond any doubt during the last year that she could be twice as successful as any man. Congratulations. Dr. Satya Ahuja and his team have a hard act to follow. We wish them well as the AAPI's success is important for Indo-US relations.


My third task is to update you on Indo-US relations in which Indians, whether in India or in the United States, have a vital stake. Indo-US relations over the last fifty years have been compared to a roller coaster ride. Hardly a year ago, Indo-US relations reached an all time low when, following our nuclear tests, most severe sanctions were imposed against us. But today, we have reason to rejoice that we are once again in a happy phase. Today, there is greater understanding in the US of India's security and defence needs. Today, there is greater confidence in India's ability to put its technological skills to the benefit of mankind as a whole. Today, there is greater faith that the interests of the two great democracies can only coincide, not collide.


The US position on the latest crisis in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistani armed intrusion into Kargil, is the manifestation of this new understanding. The assessment of the US on the origin of the current conflict and its suggestions for remedial action are very similar to those of India. The US has categorically stated that it was Pakistan that violated the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir that was solemnly agreed upon between the two countries in 1972. The US has asked for the withdrawal of Pakistani forces from the Indian side and exhorted the two sides to respect the Line of Control. It has also called for the restoration of the Lahore process, the credit for which should go to the Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The US does not attempt to be even-handed between India and Pakistan on this particular occasion. The treachery of engaging 'in systematic intrusion and occupation of Indian territory even at the very moment when the Lahore Declaration was being signed has shocked not only the US, but also the entire international community. The US administration, the Congress and the media have unequivocally supported India's legitimate right to eject the intruders. Of course, the US is on the side of truth and justice. The fact is that India has been legally and constitutionally right and it has sought justice 'in the case of Jamrnu and Kashmir over the last fifty years or so. I have no doubt that our brave soldiers and our resolute Government will throw out the aggressor, whatever be the sacrifices involved. It is however, good to know that the US and the international community are solidly behind us in this struggle. As friends of India and citizens of the US, you have reason to feel gratified that the US is supportive of India at this crucial juncture. The Indian-American community should take much of the credit for creating so much goodwill for India in the US.


Let me not mislead you into thinking that all is well in Indo-US relations. Several sanctions against India are still in force, particularly in the most crucial area of high technology. The authority given to the President by the Congress to waive some of the sanctions will expire shortly. Some of the legislative measures contemplated to deal with the situation are riddled with difficulties. For example, several Congressmen have spoken of the 'inadvisability of repealing the Pressler Amendment. We are banking on you to continue to work for the removal of the remaining sanctions against India which serve no purpose, either for the US or for India. I hope and trust that the Embassy and the AAPI can work together to turn the present happy season in Indo-US relations into eternal spring.


Thank you.