India promotes peace, not war, says PM Modi in UNGA speech

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New Delhi: Terrorism is a global problem that needs to be tackled in a united manner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the United Nations on Friday as he burnished India’s credentials as a messenger of peace, rather than of war or dissension.

“Harmony and peace, and not dissension,” declared Modi, quoting from the speech of Swami Vivekananda, made in Chicago 125 years ago. “The message from the world’s largest democracy today is the same.”

In his much-awaited speech to the UN General Assembly that lasted about 15 minutes, Modi stressed on India’s many global contributions that held lessons for other nations, rather than allowing himself to be limited by regional matters.

The Prime Minister called for strengthening multilateralism to address the challenges of the 21st century, including those brought by technological advancements.

Reformed multilateralism has been a theme Modi has been driving home at all international forums, most recently in the G-20 meet in Osaka in June.

India’s position has been that institutions like the UN need to be strengthened and also reformed because its current structure does not reflect the state of play in global politics.

Modi also showcased India’s achievements of the past five years, including the national sanitation mission, the launch of the world’s biggest health insurance scheme, besides the largest financial inclusion and biometric identity programmes, the experience and benefits of which, he added, could be shared by all countries.

Modi’s crisp speech was in sharp contrast to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address, which focused entirely on the Kashmir dispute, and warnings of possible ethnic cleansing in the region.

Khan also launched a personal attack on Modi, recalling the 2002 riots in Gujarat and describing the events as a “pogrom” against Muslims.

Modi, who spoke first, recalled the massive mandate given by Indian voters to his government in the April-May general elections, noting that this was accomplished in the world’s largest democratic exercise.

(Photo: Reuters)
Listing out the achievements of his government in his first term in office, Modi said as a developing country, India had managed to ensure it was an open defecation-free society, made sure that the world’s largest health insurance scheme had reached all the needy people, and millions of bank accounts opened to ensure financial inclusion.

India’s achievements—that of a developing country—could inspire other countries to draw lessons from, Modi said.

“In the past five years (since the Modi government came to power for the first time in 2014) India has only promoted the values of global brotherhood and welfare.”

The issues India has raised are global and the forums at which they have been highlighted are also global, he added.

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