UNITED NATIONS: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday questioned for how long will India, the world’s largest democracy and home to 1.3 billion people, be kept out of the decision-making structures of the United Nations, asserting that reform in the responses, processes and in the very character of the global body is the “need of the hour.”
In his pre-recorded video statement to the landmark General Debate of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, Modi said the stability in the United Nations and empowerment of the world body are essential for the welfare of the world.
The prime minister’s strong push for UN reforms and the much-delayed expansion of the powerful Security Council came as India will begin its two-year term as an elected non-permanent member of the 15-member Council from January 1 next year.
“For how long will India be kept out of the decision-making structures of the United Nations? How long would a country have to wait particularly when the transformational changes happening in that country affect a large part of the world?” Modi asked.
He said that while it is a fact that the faith and respect that the United Nations enjoys among the 1.
3 billion people in India is “unparalleled”, it is also true that the people of India have been waiting for a long time for the process for the reforms of the United Nations to get completed.
“Today, people of India are concerned whether this reform-process will ever reach its logical conclusion,” he said, adding that every Indian today, while seeing the contribution of India in the world organisation, aspires for India’s expanded role in the United Nations.
“Reform in the responses, in the processes, and in the very character of the United Nations is the need of the hour,” he emphasised.
India has been spearheading decades-long efforts to reform the Security Council, saying a structure set up in 1945 does not reflect contemporary realities of the 21st Century and is ill-equipped to handle current challenges.
There is widespread support, including by four out of the five permanent members of the Security Council – US, UK, France and Russia – for a permanent seat for India at the Council.
Modi said India is a country which is the largest democracy of the world, with more than 18 per cent of the world population, has hundreds of languages, dialects, many sects and ideologies, which was a leading global economy for centuries and also endured hundreds of years of foreign rule.
“When we were strong, we were never a threat to the world, when we were weak, we never became a burden on the world,” he said.
Modi emphasised that the world of today is a completely different era from the world of 1945 when the global situation, sources-resources, problems-solutions were all quite different.
“With the changing times, if we don’t change, then the drive needed to bring change will also get weakened,” he said.
An objective assessment of the performance of the United Nations over the last 75 years would yield several stellar achievements but at the same time, there are also several instances that point to the need for a “serious introspection of the work of the United Nations,” he said.
“Several terrorist attacks shook the world and rivers of blood have continued to flow by,” he said.
“During those times and even today, can we suggest that efforts of the United Nations to tackle these issues were sufficient,” he said.
Modi said India will not hesitate to raise its voice against the enemies of humanity, including terrorism, smuggling of illegal weapons, drugs and money-laundering, and will always speak in support of peace, security and prosperity.
“Starting from January next year, India will also fulfill its responsibility as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. I express my gratitude to all fellow member states who have bestowed this trust upon India,” he said, referring to the overwhelming support the country received during the election in June.
“As the world’s largest democracy, we will bring our years of rich experience for the benefit of the whole world,” he added.
Modi underscored that the ideals on which the UN was founded and India’s own fundamental philosophy has a lot of commonality and are not different from each other.
“Within the halls of the United Nations, one has often heard the words ‘the world is one family’,” he said, adding that it is part of India’s culture, character and thinking to treat the whole world as one family.
“In the United Nations too, India has always given priority to the welfare of the whole world,” he said, outlining that India has sent its brave soldiers to about 50 peacekeeping missions the world over to keep peace and in the course of maintaining peace, has lost the maximum number of its brave soldiers.
“India’s experiences, and India’s developmental journey marked with its ups and downs will only add to strengthening the path to global welfare,” he said.
“In the changed circumstances of the post-pandemic era, we are moving forward with the vision of a “Self-reliant India’,” which will also be a force multiplier for the global economy, he said.
“In its journey towards progress, India wants to learn from the world as well as share its own experiences with the world,” Modi added.
This year’s high-level UN General Assembly is being held in a largely virtual format due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, T S Tirumurti, introduced Modi’s pre-recorded statement from the General Assembly Hall.