Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
Prime Minister's opening statement:- Ladies and Gentlemen I have had two very fruitful meetings. One was the BRICS meeting in Sanya in China. You have seen the Sanya Declaration and Plan of Action and NSA has also briefed you from day to day. Yesterday I came to Kazakhstan, I had meeting with the President and followed the meeting with the Prime Minister and other ministers. We have discussed wide ranging political, economic, regional and international issues and there is almost complete unanimity in our desire to work together and give added meaning and thrust to our strategic partnership. The visit of mine was the first visit to Kazakhstan, and was in response to the 2009 initiative when we had invited President Nazarbayev as Chief Guest of our Republic Day. We had on that occasion agreed to upgrade our strategic partnership and my visit today was in pursuance issues and there is almost complete unanimity in our desire to work together and give added meaning and thrust to our strategic partnership. The visit of mine was the first visit to Kazakhstan, and was in response to the 2009 initiative when we had invited President Nazarbayev as Chief Guest of our Republic Day. We had on that occasion agreed to upgrade our strategic partnership and my visit today was in pursuance of that objective of giving added weight and depth to our strategic partnership.
Question - 1: Was the stapled visa issue taken up in your meeting with President Hu Jintao
Ans: Well, we discussed… It was a very cordial meeting. We discussed bilateral economic issues, the trade imbalances. We also discussed other relevant issues relating to international situation, possibility of cooperation between the two countries in international foras of G20, in WTO and in the Security Council. With regard to defence exchanges, my expectation is that they would be continued and also there was a proposal from the Chinese side, when Premier Wen Jiabao came to India to look at a new mechanism to maintain peace and tranquillity on the border. Work is in progress. I hope some concrete results will be visible in the near future.
Q - 2: After the BRICS Summit, is our goal of getting a permanent seat in the Security Council near?
Ans: Well, I think there is a growing support that the Security Council and other international organisations must reflect realities of the contemporary age, rather than being embedded in an era which is dead and gone. But I would not say that we are there, as such, it is a work in progress, there is growing support for India’s permanent membership of the Security Council.
Q-3 : Excess volatility to commodity prices, especially in the energy and food sectors, a grave threat has been posed to the ongoing global economy. How the BRICS would control and what would be India’s role?
Ans: Well, the BRICS by themselves cannot control. This has to be a collective international effort. We have all agreed that the Group of 20 is the appropriate international forum to discuss global economic issues and I am confident that when President Sarkozy convenes the meeting of the G20 later in the year, issues like fluctuations and volatility of food prices and oil prices would figure high on the agenda.
Q - 4: Regarding the comprehensive nuclear cooperation agreement with Kazakhstan, is India planning to sell nuclear reactors to Kazakhstan?
Ans: Well I think it takes two to strike a deal, we have I think a capability to produce small nuclear reactors choosing natural uranium and there has been discussion on that but no concrete decision has been taken.
Q - 5: In the last few months, you have come under lot of attack from civil society, how much has the last few months disturbed you personally?
Ans: Well I am not disturbed but I have always believed when winter comes, can spring be far behind!
Q - 6: On West Bengal elections, and reasons for Left being on a losing wicket?
Ans: Well, I am not the best judge on what went wrong with the Left. It is for the people to decide and I would not like to speculate all that.
Q-7: Post Fukushima, why are we still so convinced about going ahead with nuclear power?
Ans: Well I think we are too close to the Japanese disaster and in the background of what has happened, there is a certain amount of nervousness about extensive use of nuclear energy even for peaceful purposes. But I am convinced that when all is said and done, when cool headed discussions take place about the future of energy, what are problems with coal, what are the problems with other hydrocarbons, in terms of their impact on climate change. I think there would be a reconsideration of the role of nuclear energy as one of the essential options which all countries must keep in order to deal with the problems like climate change and energy security.
Q- 8: In one of your statements at the BRICS, you said about the shift of power to the common people, was it in the context of the ongoing international situation or the domestic context?
Ans: Well, I think there is both, a domestic…I think we have to take note of the fact that people’s power is some thing which we have to reckon with, which is also happening internationally in the Middle East, in North Africa. I would not like to pronounce authoritatively that I have the answer on what went wrong in West Asia.
Q -9: Market access for Indian pharma products & IT in China, Dr. Reddy’s US FDA approved drugs are facing problems in entering China. Has this been taken up with the Chinese?
Ans: Well I did raise the question of the trade imbalance. We import goods and services which give rise to the severe trade imbalances. President Hu Jintao recognised that it is the problem. I also specifically mentioned two areas, one pharmaceutical industry and the other IT. These happen to the sectors where we feel, Chinese could do, and I can not say he said precisely this with regard to these two areas, but he did say that he did recognise that China has also the responsibility to tackle the problem of trade imbalances.
Q- 10: There is a great deal of interest in your initiatives with regard to Pakistan. What are the five things that you would like to achieve in your relationship with Pakistan?
Ans: I think five is too much, well, if I can succeed in normalising relations between India and Pakistan, as they should prevail between two normal states, I will consider my job well done.
Q - 11: On the likelihood of a cabinet reshuffle soon?
Ans: Well there is still some time to go…
Q-12: Two questions, one on the possibility of induction of Indonesia in the BRICS and second on your opinion of Anna Hazare?
Ans: Well, as far as increase in membership of BRICS is concerned, this was not the subject matter which came up for discussion in the BRICS meetings.
As far as Anna Hazare ji is concerned, I respect him as an important leader, who had done lot of good work in rural development and that’s why the whole country respects him.