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Samantha and I are delighted to be here with you today. I must apologise that I am not in traditional dress but I am proud to come here with someone who is and who looks magnificent.
I want to say a big ‘thank you’ from both of us for the wonderful time that we have had – to Satyavrat Swami, the other Swamis at the Mandir, the Board of Trustees, the volunteers and everyone gathered here today, thank you.
Now, as Prime Minister, I have addressed some pretty big gatherings but I can’t remember the last time I spoke to an audience of several thousand people. And you know what, if I am honest, it is a bit nerve-wracking, so thank you for that warm welcome.
These are truly spectacular celebrations. No matter what you have heard about the Annakut – the mountain of food – seeing it really is quite something. I don’t think I have ever seen such a magnificent display of different foods – and I will quite happily help you finish some of it off.
Now Samantha and I are here, of course, to celebrate New Year with you, and as you know, every New Year begins with a wish, so I hope you will allow me two wishes today.
My first wish is this, that the British Indian community helps to strengthen our relationship with India. I have made two official visits to India since I became Prime Minister, and I can tell you today that very soon, I will be making my third. This is a vitally important friendship for the United Kingdom. Yes we have a shared language, we have cultural ties, we have a shared past – but what really matters is how we can work together now and in the future. We want to be the partner of choice for India – to grow, to do business and to make that case I want to have you right behind me. That is my first wish.
And the second wish is this, that the British Indian community becomes ever more involved in shaping the life of our country. I think of the values that you are celebrating today – family, community – those are the values that we in this country need more of. When I look around this magnificent mandir, built by thousands of volunteers who gave their time and their money – that is a spirit we can all celebrate today in Britain.
I see what the British Indian community has given to our country – the entrepreneurs who have enriched us, the artists who have inspired us, the sportsman who have entertained us, the doctors who have helped us, and of course, the fantastic cooks who have today, admirably fed us. Your contribution throughout this country shines out.
And let me say this: it is great that so many British Indians are contributing to British politics. And we want many more British Indians in our Parliament, Commons and Lords, and yes, in the Government of our country too. So that is why Samantha and I wanted to be here with you today.
So from the bottom of my heart, I would like to wish everyone here today, and all Hindus throughout Britain, a very Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year.