President lauds Egypt's nascent democracy
New Delhi, March 20 : Indian President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday lauded Egypt's nascent democracy and said the two countries must find new ways of engagement between their youthful populations.
Speaking at a banquet in the honour of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy at Rashtrapati Bhavan Tuesday, the president said commercial and cultural interactions continue to be at the forefront of relations between the two countries.
Mukherjee said: "India and Egypt may be ancient cultures but our people are young, and their aspirations, hopes and grievances will determine our progress. We must find new ways of engagement within our societies and between our countries. Democracy is incomplete without equity. The yearning for bread, social justice and equality is universal, Mukherjee said.
Referring to the "historic events" at Tahrir Square in Cairo two years ago, Mukherjee said that people in India watched with admiration as the young crowds chanted "selmiyya, selmiyya (peacefully, peacefully)" and echoed the words of Mahatma Gandhi.
Mukherjee said traders, artisans and philosophers had crossed the seas time and again to enrich composite cultures of India and Egypt.
"It is no surprise that commercial and cultural interactions continue to be at the forefront of our relations," he said, and added that the bilateral trade between India and Egypt had increased steadily in the last five years, crossing $5 billion, despite the global economic slowdown.
The president said India and Egypt had worked closely on international issues, "particularly in the Non-Aligned Movement and in the Group of 77."
He said people of Egypt had chosen to walk the long and difficult path of democracy two years ago.
"We in India know today, 65 years after independence, that democracy is neither a destination nor an absolute principle. It is more in the nature of a journey with the steady creation of independent institutions and the careful accretion of compromises, all the while remaining faithful to the essential values of human dignity and freedom," Mukherjee said.