Sunday, 28 September 2014

Indian PM Modi's UNGA address - Some extracts & comments

Some extracts from and comments on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address (translated from Hindi to English) to the UN General Assembly yesterday, from http://pib.nic.in/newsite/pmreleases.aspx?mincode=3 (click link on left table titled, "English rendering of the Statement by Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi at the General Debate of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) (27-September 2014)", currently 6th entry):

India is a country that constitutes one-sixth of humanity; a nation experiencing economic and social transformation on a scale rarely seen in history.

Every nation's world view is shaped by its civilization and philosophical tradition. India's ancient wisdom sees the world as one family. It is reflected in a tradition of openness and diversity; co-existence and cooperation.

This is why India speaks not just for itself, but also for the cause of justice, dignity, opportunity and prosperity around the world.

It is also because of this timeless current of thought that India has an unwavering belief in multilateralism.

[Ravi: Great opening remarks, IMHO.]

...

An extraordinary vision and a clear recognition of our shared destiny brought us together to build this institution for advancing peace and security, the rights of every human being and economic development for all. From 51 nations then, today 193 sovereign flags fly at this building. Each nation, born into freedom, has sought a place here with the same belief and hope.

We have achieved much in the past six decades in our mission in ending wars, preventing conflict, maintaining peace, feeding the hungry, striving to save our planet and creating opportunities for children. 69 UN peacekeeping missions since 1948 have made the blue helmet the colour of peace.

[Ravi: I think the UN peacekeeping missions are far more non-controversial than individual nations or groups of nations intervening militarily in other nations' affairs. However, I do not know how effective the UN peacekeeping force is, and what challenges they face in terms of funding and manpower.]

Today, there is a surge to democracy across the world; including in South Asia; in Afghanistan, we are at a historic moment of democratic transition and affirmation of unity. Afghans are showing that their desire for a peaceful and democratic future will prevail over violence. Nepal has moved from violence to peace and democracy; Bhutan's young democracy is flourishing. Democracy is trying to find a voice in West Asia and North Africa; Tunisia's success makes us believe that it is possible.

There is a new stirring for stability, progress and progress in Africa. There is unprecedented spread of prosperity in Asia and beyond, rising on the strength of peace and stability. Latin America, a continent of enormous potential, is coming together in shared pursuit of stability and prosperity, which could make it an important anchor of the world.

India desires a peaceful and stable environment for its development. A nation's destiny is linked to its neighbourhood. That is why my Government has placed the highest priority on advancing friendship and cooperation with her neighbours.

This includes Pakistan. ...

[Ravi: Well said. It is heartwarming to note the surge of democracy in the Indian sub-continent/South Asia. Latin America and Africa prospering is also great stuff.]

India is part of the developing world, but we are prepared to share our modest resources with those countries that need this assistance as much as we do.

[Ravi: I am so happy that PM Modi has clearly stated that India is a developing country. I mean, sometimes some Indians seem to get carried away by the achievements and glitz of some sections of India, and think that India is as economically and socially developed as the advanced economies of the world like USA and Western Europe. The fact is that the poverty levels in India are shocking when compared to the advanced economies of the world. But it must also be said that the lot of the poor in India has improved significantly over the past few decades with a lot of social welfare programmes including big subsidies made possible by India's growing economic prosperity as a whole.]

This is a time of great flux and change. The world is witnessing tensions and turmoil on a scale rarely seen in recent history. There are no major wars, but tensions and conflicts abound; and, there is absence of real peace and uncertainty about the future. An integrating Asia Pacific region is still concerned about maritime security that is fundamental to its future. Europe faces risk of new division. In West Asia, extremism and fault lines are growing. Our own region continues to face the destabilizing threat of terrorism. Africa faces the twin threat of rising terrorism and a health crisis.

Terrorism is taking new shape and new name. No country, big or small, in the north or the south, east or west, is free from its threat.

Are we really making concerted international efforts to fight these forces, or are we still hobbled by our politics, our divisions, our discrimination between countries, distinction between good and bad terrorists? Even today, states allow terrorist sanctuaries on their territory or use terrorism as instruments of their policy.

We welcome efforts to combat terrorism's resurgence in West Asia, which is affecting countries near and far. The effort should involve the support of all countries in the region.

...

We must reform the United Nations, including the Security Council, and make it more democratic and participative. Institutions that reflect the imperatives of 20th century won't be effective in the 21st. It would face the risk of irrelevance; and we will face the risk of continuing turbulence with no one capable of addressing it.

[Ravi: Well said, sir!]

We should put aside our differences and mount a concerted international effort to combat terrorism and extremism. As a symbol of this effort, I urge you to adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

...

Globalisation has created new poles of growth; new industries; and new source of employment.

At the same time, billions live on the edge of poverty and want; countries that are barely able to survive a global economic storm.

There has never been a time when it has seemed more possible than now to change this.

Technology has made things possible; the cost of providing it has reduced. We no longer are totally dependent on bricks and mortars.

If you think of the speed with which Facebook or Twitter has spread around the world, if you think of the speed with which cell phones have spread, then you must also believe that development and empowerment can spread with the same speed.

[Ravi: Very interesting!]

...

When we think of the scale of want in the world – 2.5 billion people without access to basic sanitation; 1.3 billion people without access to electricity; or 1.1 billion people without access to drinking water, we need a more comprehensive and concerted direct international action.

In India, the most important aspects of my development agenda are precisely to focus on these issues and address them in a definite time frame.

The eradication of poverty must remain at the core of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and command our fullest attention.

[Ravi: Very laudable goals. I am very happy that India's honourable prime minister has mentioned these matters related to the poor (the Daridra Narayana, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daridra_Narayana) in his UNGA address.]

...

For us in India, respect for nature is an integral part of spiritualism. We treat nature's bounties as sacred.

[Ravi: Well, India's record in terms of respect for nature in recent years is not great. The river Ganga, mother Ganga to so many Indians, is in terrible shape due to pollution. One can imagine what the state of other rivers may be. So these words may not be treated seriously unless India improves its record.]

Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition.

Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change.

Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.

[Ravi: Interesting!]

Let us fulfill our promise to reform the United Nations Security Council. Let us fulfill our pledge on a Post-2015 Development Agenda so that there is new hope and belief in us around the world. Let us make 2015 also a new watershed for a sustainable world. Let it be the beginning of a new journey together.

Thank you.

[Ravi: Those were the concluding words.]

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