Remarks by MOS MJ Akbar at the Ground breaking ceremony of TAPI gas pipeline project Serhetabad, Turkmenistan (February 23, 2018)

February 24, 2018

Your Excellency Mr. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, President of Turkmenistan,
Your Excellency Mr. Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan,
Your Excellency Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Prime Minister of Pakistan,
Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is always a pleasure to enjoy the hospitality of a great friend; today, it is also a privilege to share the joy and excitement of a landmark event in the economic history of Turkmenistan and the extended neighbourhood.

India and Turkmenistan live in each other’s memories, monuments, culture, civilization, values and vision.

Even as we look into the future with hope, past centuries beckon and encourage us to move forward with goodwill and Godspeed. One of the more magnificent monuments of Delhi is the tomb of Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khanna, son of Bairam Khan, and a poet-scholar-warrior; a Turkmen, who reached the highest ranks in the court of Emperor Akbar in the 16th century, also conquered the hearts of the people with his verses in Hindi. I am reminded of his humanism today. He said:

“Taruwar phal nahin khaat hai
Sarwar piyahi na paan;
Kahi Rahim par kaaj hit
Sampatisaanch hi sujaan”

The tree does not eat its fruit; the river does not drink its water. Says Rahim, the good person is he who gives away his wealth.

We have an old Sanskrit saying: Knowledge is one thing which grows when you give it away. Prosperity also increases when it is shared. TAPI is a symbol of what we can achieve if we energise the spirit of common purpose; of how we can build a new and better life for our people the moment we bury ghosts of past mistakes. TAPI gas emerges from our mother earth; it will now go to her children to improve the quality of their lives.

We are at Serhetabad: a frontier city of a new horizon. Let us make TAPI into a People’s Pipeline, reaffirming our resolve of development seeded by a principle: that people are more important than governments; that the poor are more important than elites; and power is potent only when it becomes an agent of service to the masses.

For us, in India, TAPI is integral to the vision of a new prosperity, rising from the base of the economic pyramid, for gas can light up lives as perhaps nothing else. Prime Minister NarendraModi believes that the first and the largest share of economic growth must go to those who need it most; that we must protect and nurture peace as the essential basis of shared prosperity, and work as one to defeat those who have become saboteurs of both peace and prosperity.

TAPI is also an important part of India’s energy security, with substantial collateral benefits. TAPI not only connects partner nations, but also opens up new options between Indian and Central Asia, particularly when complemented with other connectivity initiatives in the region. TAPI opens up geography – and opportunity.

India’s growth is already over 7% annually and every serious analyst believes that this will rise in the coming year. Our appetite for gas will be higher than what the markets foresee. Turkmenistan can be a strategic partner for the energy security of India. India can also bring its renowned capacities in IT to the project, which includes concept of laying fibre optic and power transmission lines alongside the TAPI connect. The future is resplendent with possibilities. But of course, in order to see anything you must keep your eyes open.

India applauds the vision and initiative of H.E. President GurbangulyBerdimuhamedov, without whose personal and dynamic leadership, TAPI would not have stepped out of a dream to become a reality. It is his vision that has brought us to a frontier town of the 21st century. We must not allow negative forces to disturb or interrupt this project. The greatest obstacle to growth can be obstinacy. We are confident that TAPI will also become a key to locked minds.

We wish all success to TAPI, a venture that will demand a chapter in history.