NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF SEYCHELLES
Monday 30th April 2012
The assembly met at 11.30am
The Indian National Anthem was played (Jana Gana Mana)
The Seychelles National Anthem was played
Mr. Speaker in the chair
Your Excellency, President of the Republic of India, Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Pathil, Leader of Government Business – Hon Marie-Antoinette Rose, Leader of the Opposition – Hon David Pierre,
Members of the National Assembly, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning.
Let me, first of all, Your Excellency, on behalf of all members of the National Assembly, extend my warm welcome to you and your delegation.
Your Excellency, we are very privileged to have your presence in our esteemed House this morning. Indeed, you are the first foreign Head of State to address the National Assembly of our Third Republic, thus guaranteeing you a place in the annals of our history.
We are greatly honored by this, and the fact that we will soon be addressed by a lady of your stature, one with a long and distinguished career and who has had her political teeth cut at the tender age of 27, and the woman with the privilege of being India’s first female President.
Your Excellency, many million years ago, as India drifted from the great continent of GondwanaLand towards Asia, it left a small group of islands in the midst of the Indian Ocean to fend for themselves. This archipelago is today our beautiful country, the Seychelles. But destiny would have it that that status quo would not last forever. The anthropological attachment of India to Seychelles, saw at the turn of the eighteenth century, the return of many Indians to our shores, bringing along with them their spices and culture as well as their genetic materials, to help create the melting pot that is today the Seychelles.
India, the world’s biggest democracy, Your Excellency, has also been instrumental in the development and consolidation of pluralism in our country, arguably the smallest democracy in the region. I am here reminded of the many training given by the Lok Shaba’s Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training, to both our Parliamentarians and to our staff.
Your August presence here, today, is further testimony of the strong and invincible relationship that exists between India and Seychelles, between our two parliaments and our two peoples; two nations inextricably intertwined by history. A relationship based on mutual respect!
Without further ado, I do now have the pleasure to invite The Excellency to address the House.
PRESIDENT PRATIBHA PATHIL
Honorable Speaker, Doctor Patrick Herminie, Honorable Leader of the Opposition, Mr David Pierre, Honorable Leader of Government Business, Ms Marie-Antoinette Rose. Distinguished Members of the National Assembly. Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
I bring to you warm greetings, good wishes and best regards from the people of India, from the Members of the Indian Parliament and from the Government of India. I am honored to have the privilege to address the special session of the National Assembly of Seychelles. The pillar of democracy of your beautiful country. I am fascinated by the unique splendor of this paradise island. I am deeply touched by the warm welcome extended to me and my delegation, by the friendly people of Seychelles.
Honorable Speaker, our peoples of our countries are connected by the Indian Ocean, the 3 wheels and the (-) The bonds between us are rich and infused with history We share a common legacy of colonialism and a struggle to free our nations. India struggled for freedom with a unique moment for democracy, justice and equality. It was led by Mahatma Ghandi, the father of our nation, an important bridge between India and the African continent. It was the cradle of Africa that turned the barrister into a Mahatma, who remains the symbol of peace and non voilence, as also hope all over the world as it strives for global stability and security.
India and Seychelles are wilder Democracies that share common values, like expression of popular will, respect for liberty and human rights, adult suffrage, rule of law and equality. India’s experience has shown to the world how development can be endless within the Constitutional and democratic frameworks, our aspirations of millions can flourish in the pluralistic society and how diversity can be unifying as well.
Democracy in India has remained strong and peoples’ faith in the system has remained alive and vibrant as reflected in huge turnout in all stages of elections, of all Parliament and State Assemblies. Be in India have created admiration for Seychelles strong democratic traditions for its economic reforms for the impressive human and social development indicators, it has attained. In democracy, Parliaments are the forums to understand and address people’s aspirations and their developmental needs, and to focus on various aspects of Governments which impact on the well being of the people.
We also believe that Parliaments can play a role in building greater understanding between the people of different countries. India would like to increase co-operation between our two Parliaments an there should be more exchange of visits between the members of our Parliaments.
With this aiming view, we invited young and peaceful African countries for mutually beneficial interactions with their Indian counterparts last month. I am happy that one of the young lady MPs from Seychelles has participated in the program. I am happy that MPs from India are with me during this visit. We would like to continue such interactions. India and Seychelles enjoy close relations.
The links between our two countries extend to every aspect of human life, be it social, economic, cultural, intellectual or politic. Our relations are characterized by regular high level visits and political consultations, both at the highest and official levels.
President Michel state visit to India in June 2010 was historic, as were his visits in 2011 and 2012. He has been instrumental in building up the relationship between our two countries over the years. These visits has strengthen co-operation in all fields. India would like to continue as an important partner of Seychelles in this development process. We are now entering a new phase of increased bilateral relationship. There is so much to gain and benefit through mutual help and understanding. Let us expand in co-operation in areas such as economic and commercial, tourism, including eco-tourism and environment. Apart from the existing co-operation in defense and security, education, health and human resource development.
Seychelles has ethnic links with 3 continents. Asia, Africa and Europe. It is uniquely placed to play a role in our efforts to assure better integration of our policies with Africa. There is nothing but a oracle when we say that the third wings take us to Africa via Seychelles. Shared values have enabled our two countries to have a common vision and common goals in our bilateral and multi-lateral ties. As members of the NAM, United Nations, Commonwealth and IOARC, both the countries have played an important and co-operative role in this multi-lateral bodies. We have maintained close co-operations in multi-lateral forum, mindful of each of its vital interest and considering them as our own.
Peace and security has always remained the primary pre-condition for development. Attainable and sustainable peace can only be achieved by curbing the acts of violence, conflicts and terrors. There is a common need to be vigilant against this common threat.
I would like to thank the people of Seychelles for their principle and consistent support to India on the issues of terrorism. The issue of piracy though not new has brought a new dimension to the threat it posed. To the peaceful Indian Ocean. This is affecting India as well as Seychelles, and many other countries by threatening security of our sea lands of trade and communication.
India acknowledges the immense courage and conviction demonstrated by Seychelles in tackling the problem of piracy. India would continue to exchange co-operation to Seychelles in the fight against piracy as has been the case during the last few years. We are living in the era in which most global problems and solutions pertain to developing countries like ours, and it is the demand of time that our global institutions reflect this reality. There is a need to expand the UN Security Council to make it more representative and effective to address challenges of the 21st century.
In this contest, I would like to convey our sincere appreciation for the support of the Government of Seychelles to India’s candidature for the permanent membership of our expanded UN Security Council.
Honorable Speaker, once again, may I express my gratitude to you for having given me this unique opportunity to share my thoughts with Honorable Members of the National Assembly of Seychelles. It was indeed a great privilege and a rare honor to me.
I wish the very best for every one of you. May God bless your country and all the inhabitants with ever increasing prosperity, success and glory. Thank you.
Thank you very much Your Excellency. I will now call upon the Leader of the Opposition to say a few words.
HON DAVID PIERRE
Mr. Speaker, thank you.
Your Excellency, The President of the Republic of India, Mrs. Pratibha Patil, MNAs, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure and I am honored to be given the opportunity to reply to you on behalf of the Opposition in the National Assembly.
With more than 1.1 billion people, a population more than 3 times that of the United States, the Republic of India is the world’s largest democracy, and indeed in over the more than 60years of Independence, India has gone from being a British Colony to being a functioning, independent democracy. And with a rich history of good co-operation between our two countries, the experience of India can surely assist us in the development of our democracy.
Furthermore, as a democratic and progressive nation, India has pledged to co-operate with people of the world in furthering peace and justice, freedom and democracy and on this occasion, as you sit here today in one of the world’s smallest Parliamentary Institution, I will go as far as suggesting that India has an important role to play with respect to the sharing of its experience in the development of its democracy with countries like ours, which democracy is still in its very young age.
As a matter of fact, now that the country is fully engaged in amending our Electoral Laws, Seychelles should be able to look to India and be inspired by their success in relation to the very many successful elections India has organized over the more than sixty years of independence. Needless to say, such an important process in a democracy is vital for the continued well-being of our nation and surely, as a diverse, pluralistic society, Seychelles should be able to count on India to help show us the way to building an inclusive, tolerant society where our people understand that change can only come about through peaceful, democratic and Constitutional means.
And therefore, as I reply to you, Your Excellency, as the Leader of the Opposition in the house, I am inspired by the fact that over the last six decades or so, Indian democracy has permitted India to successfully hold regular and free elections which has led to the peaceful transition of power from Government to Opposition and vice versa. And to this day, I am indeed convinced that the Seychelles has almost all of the necessary ingredients for such a successful democracy which as has been said, is vital for peaceful change and transition of power. It suffices to say that our electorate are literate and politically conscious but it only remains for our people to understand that a successful democracy which can help maintain peace and bring about prosperity for our country, demands from its leaders as well as the ordinary man, a certain level of ability and character, like rational conducts, an intelligent understanding of public affairs, belief in peace and justice and unselfish devotion to public interest. I believe that this is part of the message, India, through Her Excellency, Mrs. Prathiba Pathil, brings to our beautiful country.
Mr. Speaker, India has a long history of relations with our country and persons of Indian Origin have been among the earliest inhabitants of our islands and today they have become well integrated into our nation. Today many Indian nationals continue to work in the Seychelles, either in formal employment or are engaged in private business. Nearly 90 percent of retailing is done by persons of Indian Origin. Large construction companies are owned by persons of Indian Origin in this country and they employ hundreds of Indian workers. We have Indian experts in schools, hospitals, hotels, banks, financial set-ups and in Ministries and Parastatals. But as much as we value the important contributions that foreign nationals make to the development of this country, we in the Opposition will always press that they work free from political interference, in the spirit of professionalism, and by always maintaining respect for our laws and democratic values. Needless to say, this will earn them respect and love from this beautiful and peace loving nation.
As I conclude, I sincerely hope that the experience you are gathering during your stay in our country will greatly help India understand the assistance we require as a nation, in relation to further progress in the development of our democracy.
And once again, Mr.Speaker I thank you for giving me this opportunity to address the House, on this important occasion and on behalf of the Opposition, I wish, Her Excellency, Mrs. Prathiba Pathil as well as her delegation a pleasant stay in our country. Thank You Mr Speaker.
Thank you Honorable Leader of the Opposition. I will now call the Leader of the Government Business Honorable Rose to say a few words.
HON MARIE ANTOINETTE ROSE
Thank You Mr Speaker. The President of the Republic of India, Your Excellency Shrimati – Pratibha Pathil Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Dr Patrick Herminie, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Hon. David Pierre, Honorable members of the House, Members of the Indian delegations, Distinguished Guests.
The historical and geographical bonds between incredible India and small Seychelles are the solid foundation that has held the friendship between our two nations. Like the Honorable Speaker reminded us earlier, when the Seychelles islands were being molded by the hands of nature, a piece of the sub Continent which we now call India, was cut off from the mainland and swept by the currents across the Oceans to be close to this archipelago of ours, and to share the same ocean.
At the turn of the 18th century, once more as destiny would have it, a group of brave men and women from India, made the same journey across the Oceans and landed in our harbor. They had come to Seychelles to help establish amongst the first commercial enterprise and then started to put in place the first building blocks of a more modern Seychelles. Today, once again, our generation and in our time, we meet, to continue to seal the historic and fraternal ties which exist between Seychelles and India.
Your Excellency, the honor and privilege, to be tied at birth with this wonderful country of yours, is ours. Ours, because we value the importance of unbreakable bonds between nations. Ours, because we continue to strive to learn from each other for the greater good of both our nations. Ours, because we understand the real value of co-operation in our ongoing pursuit to greater development.
Ours, because as we steer through the rough waters of our time, we know that with such enduring friendship, we can truly find inspiration and strength. It is indeed an honor and privilege for me to address, our Parliament on this historic occasion and in welcoming, your Excellency and your delegation to the Seychelles and to the National Assembly of Seychelles. Your presence, from one of the World’s largest democracies to one of the world’s smallest Parliaments, is testimony to the fact that in spite of challenging times, countries irrespective of their sizes can effectively work towards greatness.
Your Excellency, your presence as a woman and your extraordinary legacy in India’s Governance, reaffirms the two country’s commitment for greater participation of women in the affairs of the state. Today, our small Parliament ranks fifth in the world, in terms of women representation. A strong voice indeed and a reaffirmation that our role of women in the public discourse, has never been more important, never been more needed, valued and appreciated.
Your address to the National Assembly today bears testimony to the unparalleled importance of the role of legislature in all democracies. The cardinal role of the legislature, to truly respond to the aspirations of citizens, has to be reiterated at every fork of the road and your Excellency I thank you for your words of wisdom and support, in this endeavor.
The National Assembly of Seychelles and the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have much to share and our new crop of Members of Parliament can partake of much knowledge and guidance from the Indian experience.
At this juncture, your Excellency, I am reminded of your very own words, when you once said that “India is a land of creativity where an advanced civilization has flourished from ancient times”. It is reminiscent, of what our own President, President James Michel once said and I quote: “We have to learn from our past if we want to pave the way for brighter tomorrow which awaits us”. I unquote.
In a rapidly changing world, there is no more profound decision, than to revisit the past and make a commitment to continue to uphold the fundamental tenets of leadership that our founding fathers have laid down and on which we proudly stand today. Seychelles and India’s legacy, emerging from a tested and proven past to today when the status quo is continuously being challenged, should always serve as a reminder, of what our democracies stand for, of our guiding philosophies, of our unsaying beliefs and principles, of what we are all about.
As we look to the future with new frontiers of friendship, co-operation and development in sight, let us hold dear the legacies of the past and preserve present moments such as these as defining markers of our time.
Your Excellency, the Honorable Mr. Speaker, Honorable members, I thank you.
Your Excellency, after all those eloquent speeches it remains for me to thank you, for having spent this unforgettable and your precious time with us. Like they say in your country Dunyewad!
The House stands recessed.