Jimmy Carter photo

New Delhi, India Remarks at the American Embassy to Members of the American Community.

January 02, 1978

Ambassador Goheen and friends, both those who come from the United States and those who live here permanently, it's good to be on American soil. And as I walked down the path to shake hands with those in front of the crowd, I was impressed at the young age of your staff. I would say the average age is about 7 or 8. [Laughter] We are homesick for Amy. She happens to be in Colorado now, skiing for the first time. We don't have any snow in Georgia, and this is her first experience.

But our country is so great and so strong and, I hope, in its attitudes is enlightened, progressive, and also, benevolent.

It's almost 2 years ago that the people of Iowa, represented so beautifully by the group behind me,1 exercised their very sound political judgment by giving me my first victory in the long road to election as President of our country. And I want to thank them and the people of Iowa and all of the Americans who have their hearts, at this moment, focused on India because of the presence here of me and my wife.

1 Forty-six singers from Clarke and Loras Colleges in Dubuque, Iowa, had entertained the group prior to the President's remarks.

I've come, just a few moments ago, from the beautiful and simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, a man who represented in his simple, courageous, and dedicated life, principles which never change. He was, indeed, and still is a spiritual leader of the whole world, and he represents principles that I try to keep ever present in my own mind—a hope for peace, for nonviolence, for pure truth, for dedication, for compassion, for understanding, for love, for simplicity. And even in his great strength as a moral leader, he was able to exhibit all these characteristics.

It's a sobering thought to know the economic and military and political power of the United States. When I met last night and this morning with the leaders of India—President Reddy, Prime Minister Desai, members of the Cabinet-in almost every important discussion that arose concerning atomic weapons or the prohibition against them, or conventional arms sales to the Horn of Africa, the Middle East, international trade, the functions of the United Nations—in almost every instance, Prime Minister Desai said, "Well, the responsibility lies on the shoulders of you and the Soviet Union." And I think he has a tendency to exaggerate the influence of our country, perhaps, somewhat, but still it is a sobering thought to know that the world looks to us for the maintenance of peace and for mutual progress and for the solution of some of the economic and social ills that afflict the world.

I come here representing our Nation as a President sobered by power and also proud to represent the freedoms and the commitment to human rights and the search for peace that is our Nation and which exemplifies the deep yearnings of all the American people. So, I am an important representative here in India, one of our closest and most valued friends in the largest democracy on Earth.

But equally with me, you represent our country also in a very tangible way and in a permanent way—not just the Ambassador and his wife, but every member of the staff, both American and Indian. You represent the United States here on American soil and in your every contact with the people who look to you and say, "There goes a representative of America." And the wives and husbands of the staff members, and even the smallest child who's perhaps only 2 or 3 years old, you are part of the United States of America here in India. It's with a great sense of awareness that I recognize the professional commitment and the quality of your work in the Embassy here in New Delhi.

Your responsibility is to know this country—its strengths, its weaknesses, its achievements, its problems, its past, its present, and its future—and also to know the same characteristics of our own Nation; to search for common commitments and areas of agreement and means by which we can strengthen the valuable friendships which bind us together.

At the same time, it's incumbent upon you to let us know back in Washington in a continuing, routine way how I, as President, and the Secretary of State, other leaders in our administration and the Congress, can perform better to realize the tremendous hopes that we all share.

India is a special place because of Gandhi, because of Nehru, because of Desai and others. There is a sense in the world that moral leadership derives from the Indian people in a direct and continuing fashion. And I think the elections in India this past year have again shown a reconfirmation of commitment to democracy in its purest form: the right of individual citizens to make their own decisions through freely elected government officials.

It's no coincidence that we share those strong ties of friendship with this great country. We share mutual achievements. We share mutual problems. And we try to exercise our influence in a beneficent way toward areas of the world that might be troubled with conflict and even greater trial or tribulation.

So, as President, I come to express the appreciation of the American people who are at home for the American people who are here doing such a fine job, and to let you know how proud I am of you. We are partners in a noble effort to exemplify the finest hopes and aspirations of the American people throughout the Earth.

Thank you very much for letting me have this chance to share with you what we do together.

Note: The President spoke at 12:15 p.m. In his opening remarks, he referred to Robert F. Goheen, United States Ambassador to India.

Following his remarks, the President went to Roosevelt House, the Ambassador's residence, for a working luncheon with Prime Minister Desai.

Earlier in the day, the President met with Prime Minister Desai at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the Gandhi Memorial.

Jimmy Carter, New Delhi, India Remarks at the American Embassy to Members of the American Community. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244960

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