UNITED NATIONS – Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday exhorted the international community to stand united against terrorism, which he described as one of the biggest challenges not for any single country, but for the entire world.
Addressing the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, Modi lamented the lack of unanimity amongst the member states on the issue of terrorism, saying it dents those very principles, that are the basis for the creation of the United Nations.
“We believe, that this is one of the biggest challenges, not for any single country, but for the entire world and humanity,” Modi said while speaking in Hindi.
“We belong to a country that has given the world, not war, but Buddha’s message of peace,” the prime minister said.
“And that is the reason why, our voice against terrorism, to alert the world about this evil, rings with seriousness and the outrage,” he said in his nearly 18-minute address to the world body.
“And that is why, for the sake of humanity, I firmly believe, that it is absolutely imperative, that the world unites against terrorism, and that the world stands as one against terrorism,” he asserted.
But he rued that there was lack of unanimity among member countries on how to tackle terrorism.
“The lack of unanimity amongst us on the issue of terrorism, dents those very principles, that are the basis for the creation of the UN,” he said.
India had proposed a draft document in 1996 on the ‘Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism’ (CCIT) at the General Assembly but it remained a blueprint as the member states were unable to reach a consensus. The CCIT intends to criminalise all forms of terrorism and deny terrorists, their financiers and supporters access to funds, arms and safe havens.
This was Modi’s second address to the General Debate at the UN, five years after his maiden speech as Indian Prime Minister in 2014.
The prime minister also noted that the largest number of supreme sacrifices made by soldiers of any country for UN peacekeeping missions is from India.
At least 160 Indian peacekeepers have paid the ultimate price while serving with the United Nations.
Modi said the world is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, whose message of truth and non-violence is “very relevant for us even today, for peace, development and progress in the world.”
He said India was one of the leading nations in the fight against climate change, though its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions was “very low” as he elaborated on the steps taken by his government to fight climate change.
“On one hand, we are working towards achieving the target of 450 Giga Watts of renewable energy, and on the other hand, we have also taken the initiative to create the International Solar Alliance,” he said.
Modi said one of the effects of Global Warming was the increasing number and severity of natural disasters, and at the same time “they are appearing in new areas and in new forms.”
“In view of this, India has initiated the formation of the ‘Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure’ (CDRI). This coalition will help build infrastructure which can withstand natural disasters,” Modi said.
He told the gathering that India was initiating a very large campaign to make the country a plastic-free nation.
India has been advocating for the elimination of single-use plastic for long and Modi has used several international platforms to emphasise on the product’s ban.
Modi also elaborated on the various welfare schemes like ‘Clean India Mission’, ‘Ayushman Bharat’, ‘Aadhaar initiative’, ‘PM Jan Dhan Yojana’ etc, initiated by his government and said the experience from these projects could be beneficial to those nations, who like India, are striving for development.
“The very core of our approach is public welfare through public participation and this public welfare is not just for India but for the entire world,” Modi said.
Noting that modern technology is bringing about sweeping changes in every sphere of life and a fragmented world is in the interest of none, he pressed the international community to give a new direction to multilateralism.
He said as the world is going through a new era, the countries do not have the option to confine themselves within their boundaries.
His remarks came at a time when tech billionaires like Elon Musk and Jack Ma have put artificial intelligence (AI) in the spotlight, cautioning that the modern technology will inevitably change the way people live and work in an unprecedented manner.
Modi also referred to Swami Vivekananda’s historic address at the convention of Parliament of Religions in Chicago and asserted that India’s message to the global community remained the message of harmony and peace which the spiritual guru gave in 1893.
“One hundred and twenty five years ago, the great spiritual guru Swami Vivekananda gave this message to the world during the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago.
“The message was harmony and peace. And not dissension. Today, the message from the world’s largest democracy, for the International community is still the same: harmony and peace,” he said.
Quoting the Tamil poet Kaniyan Pungundranar’s famous quotes “Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelir” which means ‘We belong to all places, and to everyone, he said this sense of belonging beyond borders, is unique to India. (PTI)