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In US Congress, Modi makes strong push for UN reform

By Kumar Rakesh
June 23, 2023 13:24 IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday made a strong push for reforming multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, and spoke glowingly of India's ties with the United States, saying the two countries stand at a new dawn in their relationship that will not only shape their destiny but also that of the world.

IMAGE: US Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy applaud as Prime Minister Narendra Modi concludes his address to a joint meeting of the US Congress in the House Chamber of the Capitol in Washington, DC on June 22, 2023. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Becoming the first Indian prime minister to address the Joint Session of the US Congress for a second time, Modi also took a swipe at China as he spoke about 'dark clouds of coercion and confrontation casting their shadow in the Indo Pacific'.

The stability of the region has become one of the central concerns of our partnership, he said, shining a light on the shared concerns in India and the US about China, which he did not name.

"We share a vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo Pacific, connected by secure seas, defined by international law, free from domination...


"A region where all nations, small and large, are free and fearless in their choices, where progress is not suffocated by an impossible burden of debt, where connectivity is not leveraged for strategic purposes, where all nations are lifted by the high tide of shared prosperity," he said.

India and the US will be at the forefront, as partners in working for a world order based on international law, he said.

The prime minister also raised the issue of terrorism, noting that more than two decades after 9/11 in the US and more than a decade after 26/11 in Mumbai, radicalism and terrorism still remain a pressing danger for the whole world.

"These ideologies keep taking new identities and forms, but their intentions are the same. Terrorism is an enemy of humanity and there can be no ifs or buts in dealing with it. We must overcome all such forces sponsoring and exporting terror," he said.

Indian officials called Modi's speech historic and noted that it was marked by applause 79 times, 15 standing ovations, autographs, selfies, bipartisan support and 'Modi Modi' chants.

Noting that the COVID-19's biggest impact was the human loss and suffering it caused, Modi asserted that a new world order must be given shape as the global community emerges from the pandemic.

Consideration, care and concern are the need of the hour and giving a voice to the Global South is the way forward, he said, adding that the African Union be given full membership of G20.

"We must revive multilateralism and reform multilateral institutions, with better resources and representation. That applies to all our global institutions of governance, especially the United Nations. When the world has changed, our institutions too must change. Or, risk getting replaced by a world of rivalries without rules," he said.

Modi also paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, saying 'we remember many others who worked for liberty, equality and justice'.

Modi said the scope of India-US cooperation is endless, the potential of our synergies is limitless, and, the chemistry in our relations is effortless as lauded the feats of Indian Americans in the country.

He underscored the share democratic values and vision of the two countries and their celebration of diversity, noting that India has over 2,500 political parties and that 20 different parties govern various states in the country.

"We have twenty two official languages and thousands of dialects, and yet, we speak in one voice. We are home to all faiths in the world, and we celebrate all of them. In India, diversity is a natural way of life," he said in a clear rebuttal to the charges of India's democratic backsliding under him.

Asserting that everyone wants to understand India's development, democracy and diversity, he said noting that when he first visited the US as prime minister in 2014 India was the 10th largest economy in the world.

"Today, India is the fifth largest economy. And, India will be the third largest economy soon. We are not only growing bigger but we are also growing faster. When India grows, the whole world grows. After all, we are one sixth of the world's population," he said.

When American companies grow, their research and development centres in India thrive, when Indians fly more, a single order for aircraft creates more than a million of jobs in 44 states in the US, he said.

"I am told that Samosa Caucus is now flavour of House... I hope it grows and brings full diversity of Indian cuisine here," Modi said, referring to an informal grouping of Indian-American lawmakers who are either part of the House of Representatives or the Senate.

"Together, we shall demonstrate that democracies matter and democracies deliver," he added.

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Kumar Rakesh
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