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Toasts of the President and Acting President Hidayatullah at a State Dinner in New Delhi

July 31, 1969

Mr. President, Your Excellencies, and our friends from India and the United States:

I want to thank you first, Mr. President, for your very gracious and generous remarks, and to tell you, indeed, though this visit is a short one, that Mrs. Nixon and I have already felt the warmth of the friendship of the people of India.

We regret that we have only this brief time to be here, but we think that had we only planned this trip to come to India for one day, it would have been worthwhile-worthwhile because of the opportunity that was provided to see and know this country again; but, more important, for the opportunity that was provided to see and know the people of India and the leaders of India, and to talk to them face to face about some of the great problems that we face together.

It was appropriate that you spoke of peace and progress and cooperation. As you noted, this journey that I am now on is a journey in quest of peace. This afternoon I had a very great privilege, that of laying a wreath, a memorial, to a great man of peace, one of the truly great men of all time and of all nations.

It was an honor for me, a great honor, to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi, in this, his centennial year.

In responding to your remarks, Mr. President, I find myself reflecting on the lessons of Gandhi. If I would not presume before this audience that knew him much better than I, I would like to talk about those lessons, what they mean to me, what they mean to the world.

Forty years ago, speaking from a personal standpoint, when I was graduated from high school, my grandmother, who was a devout Quaker and a deeply believing pacifist, gave me as a graduation present a biography of Gandhi. I learned to know him through that book.

And since then I, of course, like many throughout the world who never met him, knew him through his writings, knew him for what he stood for Gandhi's life was inspired by truths which know no boundary of space or time, because they are eternal truths.

There is a greatness which transcends the ordinary meaning of that word, a greatness at once mysterious and self-evident, a greatness beyond the trappings of power, beyond the opinions of men, a greatness of the spirit. Such a greatness was his.

He was, above all, a man of peace, who knew both the need for peace and the power of peace. He once wrote: "Love is the strongest force the world possesses and yet it is the humblest imaginable." Love was at the center of his greatness: a love of India, a love of mankind, a love of peace; and he forged it into a power that moved nations and transformed the world.

As we reflect on his greatness, it is appropriate that we reflect also on the nature of peace.

The concept of peace is as old as civilization, but the requirements of peace change with a changing world. Today we need a new definition of peace--one which recognizes not only the many threats to peace, but also the many dimensions of peace.

Peace is much more than the absence of war and, as Gandhi's life reminds us, peace is not the absence of change. Gandhi was a disciple of peace. He also was an architect of profound and far-reaching change. He stood for the achievement of change through peaceful methods; for belief in the power of conscience; for faith in the dignity and grace of the human spirit, and in the rights of man.

In today's rapidly changing world, there is no such thing as a static peace or a stagnant order. To stand still is to build pressures that are bound to explode the peace; and more fundamentally, to stand still is to deny the universal aspirations of mankind. Peace today must be a creative force, a dynamic process, that embraces both the satisfaction of man's material needs and the fulfillment of his spiritual needs.

The pursuit of peace means building a structure of stability within which the rights of each nation are respected: the rights of national independence, of self-determination, the right to be secure within its own borders, to be free from intimidation.

This structure of stability can take many forms. Some may choose to join in formal alliances; some may choose to go their own independent way. We respect India's policy of nonalignment, its determination to play its role in the search for peace in its own way. What matters is not how peace is preserved, but that it be preserved; not the formal structure of treaties, but the informal network of common ideals and common purposes that together become a fabric of peace. What matters is not whether the principles of international behavior these represent are written or unwritten principles, but rather that they are accepted principles.

Peace demands restraint. The truest peace expresses itself in self-restraint in the voluntary acceptance, whether by men or by nations, of those basic rules of behavior that are rooted in mutual respect and demonstrated in mutual forbearance. When one nation claims the right to dictate the internal affairs of another, there is no peace.

When nations arm for the purpose of threatening their weaker neighbors, there is no peace.

There is true peace only when the weak are as safe as the strong; only when the poor can share the benefits of progress with the rich; and only when those who cherish freedom can exercise freedom.

Gandhi touched something deep in the spirit of man. He forced the world to confront its conscience, and the world is better for having done so. Yet we still hear other cries, other appeals to our collective conscience as a community of man.

The process of peace is one of answering those cries--yet doing so in a manner that preserves the right of each people to seek its own destiny in its own way, and strengthens the principles of national sovereignty and national integrity on which the structure of peace among nations depends.

However fervently we believe in our own ideals, we cannot impose those ideals on others and still call ourselves men of peace. But we can assist others who share those ideals, and who seek to give them life. As fellow members of the world community, we can assist the people of India in their heroic struggle to make the world's most populous democracy a model of orderly development and progress.

There is a relationship between peace and freedom. Because man yearns for peace, when the people are free to choose, their choice is more likely to be peace among nations; and because man yearns for freedom, when peace is secure, the thrust of social evolution is toward greater freedom within nations.

Essentially, peace is rooted in a sense of community, in a recognition of the common destiny of mankind, in a respect for the common dignity of mankind, and in the patterns of cooperation that make common enterprises possible. This is why the new patterns of regional cooperation emerging in Asia can be bulwarks of peace.

In the final analysis, however, peace is a spiritual condition. All religions pray for it. Man must build it by reason and patience.

On the moon, now, is a plaque bearing these simple words: "We came in peace for all mankind."

Mahatma Gandhi came in peace to all mankind.

In this spirit, then, let us all together commit ourselves to a new concept of peace:

--A peace that combines continuity and change, stability and progress, tradition and innovation.

--A peace that turns the wonders of science to the service of man.

--A peace that is both a condition and a process; a state of being and a pattern of change; a renunciation of war and a constructive alternative to revolution.

--A peace that values diversity and respects the right of different peoples to live by different systems--and freely to choose the systems they live by.

--A peace that rests on the determination of those who value it to preserve it, but that looks forward to the reduction of arms and the ascendancy of reason.

--A peace responsive to the human spirit, respectful of the divinely inspired dignity of man; one that lifts the eyes of all to what man in brotherhood can accomplish, and that now, as man crosses the threshold of the heavens, is more necessary than ever. It is, then, in a spirit of peace, in a spirit of brotherhood, and in a spirit of confident hope, that I ask you to join me in a toast to the Acting President, the Prime Minister, and the people of India, a nation rich in spirit, proud of its heritage, advancing toward a future bright with promise, and marked by destiny to play an historic role in man's progress toward that peace we all so fervently seek.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 10 p.m. in the Banquet Hall at Rashtrapti Bhavan in response to a toast proposed by Acting President Mohammed Hidayatullah. The Acting President's remarks follow: Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

Your visit, Mr. President, though very brief, brings the United States of America close to India. Such visits are helpful in promoting international understanding. It would be a better world if all the sovereign states came close in harmony and became interdependent. It is fortunate that the advance of science and technology has conquered space, and nations far apart are yet near enough for their leaders to get together and frame policies. We value this opportunity to welcome you and to be able to exchange thoughts on subjects of great moment.

Mr. President, you come to us after your country and particularly your space men have blazed a new trail. The epic flight to the moon and back by three of your countrymen has amazed the world and marks a new stage in science and technology. On behalf of the Government and people of India, and myself, I congratulate you and, through you, the people of your country on this historic occasion.

This achievement is symbolic of the restless spirit of mart and his desire to widen the horizons. We are glad to know that you are sharing the knowledge you have gained with the rest of the world and this leads us to hope that the new knowledge of science and technology will always be shared between the more advanced and the less developed countries of the world.

We, of course, wish that you and Mrs. Nixon had spent some more time in our country, traveled in it, and seen the problems we face and the efforts we are making to overcome those problems and the measure of our success. This would have also given you an opportunity to sense and feel the warmth of our friendship and the depth of our good will for you and the people of your great country. We can only hope that you and Mrs. Nixon will come to India again soon and for a longer visit. You will be most welcome.

Mr. President, your journey to India and some other countries of Asia in the wake of peaceful exploration of our satellite may be described as a journey in quest of peace. We sincerely appreciate it. We firmly believe that peace and security, progress arid stability, particularly in the developing countries, can only come by waging a ceaseless war on poverty, hunger, ignorance and disease.

Asian countries can have security and stability only if the economic conditions are healthy. Political stability is tied to economic well-being.

Most of the countries of Asia have won their independence recently and they desire to achieve stability and economic self-sufficiency under their own leadership. They do not want to work alone, but in cooperation with other friendly countries in Asia and outside.

In this behalf, your country, Mr. President, has a distinguished record of economic aid to and cooperation with many countries in this region. We ourselves have received much assistance from your country, for which we are grateful.

We have, however, many difficult problems, which we are trying to solve in our own way and according to our own traditions and convictions. Our policy of nonalignment and peaceful coexistence is not a mere slogan but stems from our history, traditions, and beliefs and from our determination to remain independent and to exist in peace and friendship with others. As Jawaharlal Nehru said: Our freedom and independence are but a part of freedom and independence of all nations.

Mr. President, I believe this world is now entering a new era. It has already learned the hard way that slogans must be mistrusted and seldom relate to the complex realities of changing situations. Decision making today requires thinkers and intellectuals who share the hopes and aspirations of the masses and feel with them, thus winning their willing consent.

Our two countries have a very similar system of government and we have adopted a social organization which is based on the cornerstones of individual liberty, democracy, and security.

We, in India, are at the same time face to face with the problem of ensuring that the weaker elements in our society are not made victims of uncontrolled economic forces. For this purpose we believe that capital, which is scarce, must often be employed in certain priority sectors for the nation's collective good.

We are apt to hear that ours is a mixed economy but our economy, by reason of our situation, is incapable of being interpreted in strict ideological terms. The real and practical problem in India today is how to increase production and attain equitable distribution of wealth with equal opportunity for all. Our Constitution emphasizes these as the directive principles in the governance of the country.

In many ways, your country, Mr. President, was a pioneer in what we are ourselves trying to achieve but in more difficult circumstances and in a comparatively shorter time.

We, in Asia, are facing major changes, more fundamental than elsewhere in the world. It is no coincidence that everywhere there is a call for a fresh look at old presumptions. The traditional concepts of friend and enemy, of war and peace, of spheres of influence and balance of power, have to be modified.

In Asia we have to remove the basic causes of tension and insecurity. The discontent of a deprived and underprivileged people is a more potent danger than any that an enemy can devise. The people must have rights to protect and happiness to defend. If they have these, they will gladly share responsibilities and make sacrifices.

There are tensions, both national and international, which arise from basic factors--economic, social, and political. They are not amenable to simple explanations of power politics and power vacuum. A military solution cannot remove the main causes of weakness and tension.

The emphasis must, therefore, shift from a military solution to peaceful settlement, to economic and social development, so that people may have adequate food and shelter, health and education, employment and leisure, with peace and freedom.

Mr. President, we are making, in India, a concerted effort both to improve the lot of our people and build friendships with our neighbors and with others. We are glad that relations between most Asian nations are better today than before. Certain tensions and conflicts remain still but they can and must be resolved only through peaceful means and not by force.

Your country, Mr. President, has a deep and abiding interest in the peace and progress of this region. The prestige and potential of America can be of great help in strengthening the framework of economic cooperation in this area. We in this country have admiration for the high sense of responsibility and earnestness and the new and realistic approach to Asia which has been shown by your administration.

We hope that your visit to India and other countries will open a new era of friendships. We also hope that your visit, brief though it is, will enable you to have a glimpse of the immense good will and friendship that exists in India for your country. Though sometimes there have been differences, they are but natural between friendly sovereign and independent countries. These differences are not in the aims and objectives but only in the means to achieve them.

It is our hope, Mr. President, that India and the United States can go forward together in friendship and cooperation for their mutual benefit and for the benefit of Asia and the world community.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, may I request you to join me in a toast to the health of the President and Mrs. Nixon, to the happiness and welfare of the people of the United States of America, and to the growing friendship between our two countries, and peace in the world. To your health, Mr. President, and to the prosperity and greatness of the American people.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and Acting President Hidayatullah at a State Dinner in New Delhi Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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