Relations between India and Europe go back many centuries and today a new dynamism has entered the relationship. Moreover India, the second most populous country in the world with its 950 million people, has great economic potential and shares many social and democratic values with the member states of the European Union.
India is emerging as a major player in the Asian economy, just as Europe intensifies its economic integration with the launch of the single currency. Europe has always been India's largest source of investment and biggest trading partner and this trend will doubtless continue to an even greater extent with the on-going integration of the European Union. At the same time, India’s bold record of achievement in the field of science, industry and information technology is starting to create a totally fresh image of the sub-continent within the European Union. More that ever there is scope for enlarging and accelerating economic relations.
Through the "EU-India Economic Cross-Cultural Programme", both India and the European Union confirm their commitment to better understanding and awareness of each other to promote trade and stronger economic relations. There is a shared belief that healthy economic co-operation is a guarantor of increasing prosperity and improvements in the quality of life of all citizens. It will also reinforce conditions for democracy, wider opportunities for individuals and peace and stability. The programme, I hope, will be a catalyst for partnership and co-operation. The objective should be to boost contacts, direct communication and better understanding between Europeans and Indians which would enhance and enrich the lives of people in these countries.
I am happy that the project "Europe and India: Past, Present and Future" envisages a cross-cultural linkage, involving exchanges of expertise between India and Europe with supporting workshops and seminars. The project should include courses, both in India and Europe, in the fields of mechanical sciences, computer science, industrial management and environment. The project should also aim to develop networks and relations through a series of initiatives in all these areas. I am happy that under this project the B.M. Birla Science Centre has networked with the Società Indologica "Luigi Pio Tessitori" in Udine, the International Centre for Mechanical Sciences also in Udine and the ÖFPZ Arsenal in Vienna.
The State Government is to launch soon under the Sankhya Vahini Project a Fibre Optic hi-speed digital network connecting cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Vizag and Calcutta. The State Government has also facilitated the setting up of many institutes of excellence like IIT, Indian School of Business, National Academy of Construction, Sri Ramananda Theertha Institute of Rural Development, etc.
My aim is to make Andhra Pradesh a knowledge society and Hyderabad an international technology centre and knowledge capital. I want the best technologies, knowledge and practices to come to Andhra Pradesh so that we can adopt them for the development of our State. I strongly believe that the next millennium will be that of a knowledge society. Those who adopt the latest technologies like IT will survive the international competition and the others will be left far behind. Hence, our aim should be to have access to the vast knowledge and technologies available in different parts of the world and to have interconnectivity with them so that our students and researchers can make use of them.
I congratulate the B.M. Birla Science Centre for taking the initiative in this Cross-Cultural Programme and organising this workshop here. I am sure that the deliberations in the present workshop would benefit the participants from various parts of the world and the country, and that it would come out with purposeful suggestions for better connectivity between the countries involved in studies and research.