Thank you! Such an honor!
I appreciate getting to see some of your magnificent city – this is 1st time here & I sincerely hope it won’t be my last! During my brief time here I’ve enjoyed India’s famous “Gift for Hospitality.” And next time, I want to visit the Taj Mahal with my husband, Todd. Considering how patiently he’s endured during my political career & been so supportive, it would be nice to reinforce our teamwork/commitment before that monument to eternal love. Todd is here with us tonight.
When I had the honour of meeting your Prime Minister a few years ago, I expressed my admiration for your country’s rich history & culture & most recent achievements! I now am humbled with this opportunity to express that to you, here, in this beautiful ancient land. This has so captured the imaginations of artists & poets & explorers throughout human history. Todd & I are honoured to be here to see the site of some of the world’s oldest civilizations…the birthplace of major religions, the crossroads of the ancient “Spice Route & Silk Road”.
All those precious resources of their day: spices, pepper, silk, indigo – My country was essentiallly “discovered” in the age of exploration, because Western Europeans were looking for a route to your country to exchange & enjoy those resources! (Yes, the connection between our two countries was there from the beginning!)
During the flight here, between our countries, it did not escape me that Japan lies about halfway between my Alaskan home & India. I trust you will join me in expressing solidarity with the Japanese people as they recover from such tragic events. Their determination & resiliency won’t fail them. The world community stands united to offer help to them in the “Land of the Rising Sun”. Thoughts and prayers are with you, Japan. Life is fragile – precious – we’re in this together; may Japan know our caring heart at this time.
I’ve been asked to speak today about my vision for America, & share with you a little about my background.
I grew up in a very small town, perhaps like some of you (though half-a-world-away). My town’s tucked between two grand mountain ranges, in a valley quite far from the avenues of political power. There, in my home state of Alaska, we’re so proud of nature’s beauty & our towering mountains, but certainly here relatively near the spectacular Himalayas can I appreciate an even greater sense of nature’s enormity!
One of the mountains near my home (I see it everyday from my kitchen window!) is called “Pioneer Peak” – named in honour of the brave pioneers who settled our Valley just a few generations ago. By the sweat of their brow & rugged work ethic – they turned raw land into a valuable agriculture community.
I have loved my upbringing thereâ€¦big family, Todd’s from a big family. I was a school teacher’s kid, loved sports & anything outdoor. I tell my parents the greatest gift they ever gave me was this upbringing in AK, the young, 49th state of the United States.
AK is known as the “Last Frontier” & it’s a place that IS rugged & you can still feel an optimistic, pioneering spirit – like the spirit that had inspired Americans to carve a nation out of the wilderness! It was “pioneer families” – strong & hopeful – who made a good life (though not an easy one) for themselves in the Northern Wilds!
That “pioneering spirit” shaped me. It instilled in me a sense of independence & self-reliance. And: a belief in the ‘Power of Ordinary People’ working together to help one another.
In a small community in such a vast state (AK’s about half the size of India), you learn to help your neighbour; & to help yourself. And you learn to value (& have faith in) personal freedom – especially the freedom to chart your own course! So, it was there I learned there’s no limit to what you can achieve with strong work ethic. That optimism & respect for (& empowerment of) individual liberty shaped both my political beliefs & my vision for my country.
I started in politics on the local level two decades ago; inspired by a desire to serve the ordinary folks in my hometown! As a city councilman, then a city mayor, I led the fastest growing area in our state. I experienced firsthand the power & success of the free market, & the proper role of government in fostering economic growth. I cut property taxes, I invited business in & focused on building infrastructure (roads, water & sewer systems); not a lot of glamour in that – but I have a solid belief in what government’s proper role is & it shouldn’t be glamorous.
It’s not government business to spend the working man’s tax dollars recklessly – & certainly not government’s business to centrally “plan” an economy & control an entrepreneurial spirit! That doesn’t work. Government should lay infrastructure, level the playing field, then get out of the way. Allow the private sector to grow/thrive/create jobs & generate wealth!
Then as governor of my state, my goal was to clean up corruption & develop our rich natural resources: Our abundant oil, gas, minerals & our robust fisheries! An important project that was a ‘center-point’ was jumpstarting a natural gas pipeline project that had been stalled for decades. We brought all stakeholders together for mutual benefit – our state, the energy industry, our neighboring country, consumers & together with ordinary citizens (who are the resource owners) & major energy producers who ‘bid on the right to develop our resources’, AK was finally able to move forward on a project that can help lead America towards energy independence.
Through my work in AK (as an oil & gas regulator, then as governor), I’ve seen firsthand how energy development, job creation & national security are inextricably linked. Access to affordable, reliable energy is the key to economic growth, which is the key to job growth. Securing that stable domestic supply of fuel will lead to a more peaceful & prosperous America – an America that’s not subject to the whims of foreign dictators who could cut off energy supplies & seek to control.
Of course, energy issues are critical to the whole world’s stability & economic opportunities! By 2030, the world’s energy consumption will increase by 50% & almost half of that will come from here in India & from China. We all face similar challenges in this arena & this makes America’s quest for energy security all the more crucial as we seek to stabilize our economy, secure our homeland & cooperate with our allies who would also seek peace on earth.
Energy is key! My vision for a free & prosperous America has much to do with energy.
Now, we hear a lot about “green energy” today. And I am a true believer in environmental conservation & responsible stewardship of our lands. (It’s why I live in AK! A pristine environment to be passed on to future generations – I don’t want to mess it up! I am a conservationist. I married into an Alaska native family, where Todd’s connection to the land through his Yupik Eskimo heritage, an indigenous people, reinforces my respect for God’s creation. And we’ve made our living off the land – as commercial fishermen & Todd working in North Slope oil fields – so we don’t want to mess it up!)
So, I’m in favour of “all-of-the-above” approach to energy security. But “all-of-the-above” means including “conventional” resources! That means, the kind we actually use to reliably fuel our economy. That means crude oil, for example. And our natural gas, our coal, nuclear power.
Unfortunately, some have stymied resource development – like responsible domestic oil drilling. As a result, hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs won’t be created in the U.S. until we change course; it means Americans get hit with huge gas prices at the pump unless we change course; it means we’re continuing to transfer hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars to foreign regimes to purchase energy from them – regimes that don’t have our best interests at heart.
And I’m not just talking about gasoline here. Remember that ‘petroleum products’ are all around you! Look at your everyday surroundings – the foodstuffs; the agriculture products grown with fertilizer; the plastics all around you; medical supplies; the transportation of all these products. It’s not just gas that increases as the price of crude increases: Everything is affected. Basic commodities.
So as government locks up land & we lose good jobs in the ‘Conventional Resource’ arena, you may hear that “green jobs” will be the saviour! But look around the world & try telling that to the thousands of English & Scottish workers who’ve lost jobs as a result of government investments in “green energy” projects. A recent UK study shows that for every “green job” created, nearly four jobs were lost elsewhere in the economy due to lack of affordable energy! Same story in Spain – investment in “green jobs” brought massive debt, skyrocketing energy costs & 20% unemployment.
This push for ‘green’ at the expense of ‘conventional, reliable’ sources is not a credible energy policy or economic policy. It’s “Social Engineering” by Central Government Planners. And it leads to nothing but more debt & more job loss. And taxpayers will be stuck subsidizing the failure and paying more for energy.
The good news is there’s a choice/another option! Instead of funding non-viable special interest projects, Americans can capitalize on our own viable resources that are just waiting to be tapped – they’re right on our doorstep! Billions of barrels of oil warehoused underground in AK!
And so much natural gas – Clean, green, affordable! Easy to transport, abundant across the U.S. – Whether used conventionally, or to power natural gas cars, or run power plants that charge electric cars, natural gas is an ideal “bridge fuel” to the future. (A future when renewable gas can someday become more available, reliable & affordable.)
I warn Americans so often: it’s a ‘false, utopian fairytale’ told that would want you to believe we don’t need to drill for oil today. No, government manipulating energy supplies? Manipulating any aspect of an economy – it leads to more people becoming more dependent upon government to meet needs – it is social engineering, it’s immoral, & it’s a problem we-the-people must be brave enough to take on.
Our need for energy independence is only one of the strategic challenges we face today. The other is an unsustainable government debt which hampers economic growth.
On this: there are no “easy” solutions, but there are “simple” ones, if we just apply courage & political will to confront the problem squarely. Obviously, we need to stop digging the hole we’re in; cut spending; cut government back down to size; get rid of overly-burdensome regulations. And most of all, we need job growth! And that won’t come from ‘top-down government planning’! It’ll come from the ‘Free Market Ingenuity’ of ordinary American entrepreneurs!
To release creative energy, we need to do on a national level what President Ronald Reagan did in the 1980’s. It’s what I believed in as a ‘Reforming Mayor & Governor’ in my state, because I want the free economic choices of ordinary men & women to power the marketplace – rather than distant bureaucrats thinking they can plan & grow an economy by “government decree”. (That just doesn’t work!)
I know you understand this, because in the early 1990’s, due to clear, commonsense, pro free-market reforms, India’s economy took off!
You abolished import licenses; cut import duties; removed investment caps & broke the union’s grip on industry.
You unleashed the creativity & hard work of the Indian people; you turned away from a system where ‘Central Government’ sets targets for all sectors of the economy, to a system that lets the market set its own targets. That works.
People no longer speak of India as a “struggling economy” as they would have 30 years ago. Today we speak of India as a “dynamic & vibrant economy”. You empowered individuals & in doing so, you’ve reminded America of the free, entrepreneurial model that made our country great, prosperous & exceptional!
See, if we unshackle the creative energy of our workers, & entrepreneurs, there is no reason in the world why we can’t get back to rapid growth & prosperity!
Friends: some people want to claim that the geopolitical stage is ‘so changing’ & some actually claim ‘America is in decline’. “The United States,” they’d say, “will soon be a shadow of its former self.” I completely reject this! It represents wrong-headed thinking by some friends & wishful thinking by our enemies! America’s demise has been predicted before. It didn’t happen then. It won’t happen now.
No, America is not in decline! What is in decline? It is the idea of a ‘Tax-&-Spend, Centralized Bureaucracy’ that has brought America to the point of debt & deficits in the first place. These “Big Government” ideas are once again being consigned to the ash heap of history – though they won’t go quietly to the grave.
From the beginning: my faith has never been in Big Govt. My faith is in the American people, & we are turning things around!
All great nations face the challenges that come with a changing economy, demographics, & new technologies. The nations that succeed in the face of these challenges are the ones that show innovation & ingenuity – & will empower a free power! These qualities are the hallmarks of the “American Experience” & the unique strengths of the American people.
My vision for my country is a strong America that unleashes those strengths & confidently engages in leadership in the world & can welcome the healthy competition & partnership of rising economic powers in a democracy, like India.
The relationship between our countries could shape the course of the next century! Tilting it in the direction of free people & free markets! The future lies with us! We’re half-a-world apart geographically, but connected with much in common!
We both have deep & historical ‘democratic traditions’. We are the world’s most diverse, tolerant & dynamic societies. Our peoples enjoy very close ties (& in recent years our governments have been catching up!) There are few limits to what India & America can do together to allow a more peaceful & prosperous world.
Tragically, we have both been the targets of terrorism. We have both witnessed the courage of our people in combating terror. Both our peoples want it defeated.
And we both want to ensure that China’s rise is peaceful – while hedging against risks that it could be otherwise.
We both want to expand trade & investment with allies in a liberal international order that will soon boast India as its fastest-growing major economy.
Our diplomatic, military & political ties are deepening, because we have a genuine strategic partnership! But it is our people who are driving this relationship!
Indian entrepreneurs are investing in the U.S., even as U.S. businesses expand here.
Indian students are throughout American universities & more Americans seek to study here – including through an expanded Fulbright programme.
Our tech companies are working together in impressive ways. And our ethical partnerships could transform both our development trajectories.
Our ties & bonds are deep! And they’re not driven so much by “political leadership summits” & bureaucrats – they’re driven by free people & free markets! That’s why there are no natural limits to the future of U.S.- India relations. And that is why the world’s largest democracies – NOT its largest autocracy – will lead the 21st century.
We will lead because we are on the side of empowering individuals to make choices for themselves. Not government /not some New World Order organization making decisions & decrees for us.
We are on the side of religious tolerance & women’s rights! (And in recent years, India has helped lead by example in the area of women’s education by narrowing the gender gap in women’s literacy. You’ve helped remind the world that a culture cannot advance when it holds back half its creative & intellectual power!)
And its political power! I admire India’s tradition of strong women leaders – at home & abroad! In fact, last year, I had the honour of supporting a strong American woman of Indian descent when I endorsed the candidacy of South Carolina’s new governor – their first female – Nikki Haley!
I met Nikki’s parents & was impressed by their story, work ethic! And, by Nikki’s upbringing that led her to become part of a ‘grassroots movement in American politics’ that’s known as “The Tea Party”! (I’m proud to be a part of this movement as well.)
The “Tea Party” is named after that famous event in American politics that was a precursor to our Independence! In 1773, when American patriots were upset about British taxes, they dumped tea into the Boston Harbor. (The British had forced a monopoly on the American people that prevented us from importing tea from anyone but the British East India Company. See, even back then we believed in free trade!) Today’s “Tea Party” is a strong & vibrant movement in the U.S. & it’s only going to grow & become more influential!
India Conclave: the theme of this conference is the “Changing Balance of Power”. Well, the present day Tea Party is a perfect example of that! It’s all about the empowerment of ordinary, everyday, independent patriots who are rising up & making their voices heard to positively change the “Balance of Power”! To protect our U.S. Constitution & live out our Declaration of Independence!
It reminds our ‘Central Govt’ that our Constitution gives great power to our 50 individual states – and to individual citizens – & that these powers (these God-given ‘RIGHTS’) aren’t to be trampled on.
The “Changing Balance of Power” throughout the world today is driven by the empowerment of the individual – & mankind’s desire for freedom!
The American people understand this. And India understands this, too.
Back home in AK, where the fresh snow blankets the ground today, where my kids texted me to report they see a Mama Moose & her two baby calves outside our door by the firewood pile: There at home, I have a beautiful pencil drawing on my kitchen wall. A framed drawing by Robin Coran. It’s a picture of Mother Teresa, of Calcutta. She’s holding a precious child (a baby).
It was said of Mother Teresa that “perhaps the greatest message she has given to the world is the value & dignity of human life!” From India, she was able to share this crucial message with the world! And it is a crucial message because the freedom & empowerment of the individual is rooted in an understanding of every man & woman’s inherent dignity & worth! I looked at the picture as I typed out this speech on my home computer set up there in the kitchen.
I was struck with this: Countries that deny that message of individual worth (& destiny) inevitably stifle their own advancement because the fire of human progress is sparked by the aspirations of ordinary men & women seeking a better life!
These simple “working class” aspirations for a good job, a home, a good education for our children are what motivate economic progress & positive change! Not bureaucrats! Not ‘Central Planners’! Not government decrees! Just hard-working women & men seeking the freedom to chart their own course & succeed by their own merits!
When people realise even the briefest glimpse of this freedom & opportunity – even a hint that they can succeed through honest hard work – they run towards it! They embrace the promise of “better days ahead!” They will sacrifice today for a better tomorrow for their children & grandchildren. With individual responsibility, drive & determination, they will work together to carve a life for themselves out of the wilderness!
They’ll voluntarily contribute to help their neighbours even those half-a-world-away!
That’s the ‘Optimistic/Pioneering Spirit of America’s Frontier’! That’s the spirit of India’s progress too.
America has long been famous for our rags-to-riches stories. Now India is, too. Take pride in this – it’s inspiring! Together, as the worlds’ largest democracies, we are a testament to the positive force of human aspirations!
Today, all across the world, we see individuals, “ordinary” men & women, rising up/moving to advance (& a great tool they’re using in this ‘demand of human rights’ is social media).
We don’t know where all of this will lead. But we should look at it as opportunity to advance the cause of human freedom – not naively, but optimistically.
Friends: our two democracies understand this struggle for freedom. It’s the struggle of those who defiantly dumped tea in Boston Harbor to protest a British tea tax. & it’s the struggle of those who courageously marched to the seacoast near Don-dee to make their own salt in defiance of a British salt tax!
This hunger for ‘Freedom & Opportunity’ is proof that what we call the “American Dream” is not just “American.” It is the universal dream of people everywhere! I believe it’s created within us! And that is where the march for freedom has found its most eager advocates: ‘ordinary people’ who have ‘extraordinary determination’ to seek justice & make a better life for their families. This is as true in AK, as in Andhra Pradesh.
Half-a-world-apart? And yet we are connected by this.
My ‘Vision for America’ is one of a country that lives that dream! And, in turn, inspires & empowers women & men around the world to live it, too! We can lead by example.
What America can show the world is what is possible – the potential of human possibilities when women & men are freeâ€¦Yes, may we be free!
Thank you & God bless you!