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10 things Prime Minister Modi told the UN

By Sheela Bhatt/
September 28, 2014 00:25 IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York. Photograph: Vijay Verma/PTI Photo

In his 33-minute address at the United Nations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi covered a number of subjects -- terrorism, globalisation to fight poverty and reforms of the United Nations.

It was an effort by politician Modi to transform into statesman Modi.

Here are 10 takeaways from the prime minister's UN speech:


India stands for multilateralism, always

Every nation's world view is shaped by its civilisation and philosophical tradition. India's ancient wisdom sees the world as one family.

It is this timeless current of thought that gives India an unwavering belief in multilateralism.



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. I am prepared to engage in a serious bilateral dialogue with Pakistan in a peaceful atmosphere without the shadow of terrorism to promote our friendship and cooperation.

However, Pakistan must also take its responsibility seriously to create an appropriate environment. Raising issues in this forum is not the way to make progress towards resolving issues between our two countries. Instead, today, we should be thinking about the victims of floods in Jammu and Kashmir. In India, we have organised massive flood relief operations and have also offered assistance for Pakistan occupied Kashmir.


Terrorism and conflicts

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 destabilising threat of terrorism. Africa faces the twin threat of rising terrorism and a health crisis.

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

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.

Today, even as sea, space and cyberspace have become new instruments of prosperity, they could also become a new theatre of conflicts.


Not G1, but G-All

Today, more than ever, the need for an international compact, which is the foundation of the United Nations, is stronger than before.

While we speak of an inter-dependent world, have we become more united as nations?

Today, we still operate in various Gs with different numbers. India, too, is involved in several. But, how much are we able to work together as G1 or G-All?

On the one side, we say that our destinies are inter-linked, on the other hand we still think in terms of zero sum game. If the other benefits, I stand to lose.


No to unilateralism

First, let us work for genuine peace, No one country or group of countries can determine the course of this world. There has to be a genuine international partnership. This is not just a moral position, but a practical reality.

We need a genuine dialogue and engagement between countries. I say this from the conviction of the philosophical tradition that I come from.

Our efforts must begin here -- in the United Nations.


UN reforms

We must reform the United Nations, including the Security Council, and make it more democratic and participative. Institutions that reflect the imperatives of the 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.

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.

We should ensure that there will be peace, stability and order in the outer space and cyberspace.


Globalisation to fight poverty

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.


Focus on removing poverty

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.

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


Three beliefs

One, we should be honest in shouldering our responsibilities in meeting the challenges.

The world had agreed on a beautiful balance of collective action -- common but differentiated responsibilities. That should form the basis of continued action.

This also means that the developed countries must fulfill their commitments for funding and technology transfer.

Second, national action is imperative. Technology has made many things possible. We need imagination and commitment.

India is prepared to share its technology and capabilities, just as we have announced a free satellite for the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries.

Third, we need to change our lifestyles. Energy not consumed is the cleanest energy.

We can achieve the same level of development, prosperity and well being without necessarily going down the path of reckless consumption. It doesn't mean that economies will suffer; it will mean that our economies will take on a different character.

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


Yoga is the invaluable gift of India

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.

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  • Please click here for the full coverage of Prime Minister Modi's US visit
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Sheela Bhatt/ in New York