In address to UNGA, PM questions India’s exclusion from decision-making structures

United Nations Pitching for India’s big role in world affairs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly pressed for reforms in the United Nations and asked how long India would be "kept out of the decision-making structures" of the global body, even as he raised questions on UN's "effective response" in combating the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged the world. The prime minister's strong push for reforms in the process and responses of the UN, and the much-delayed expansion of the powerful Security Council came as India will beginits 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 in his pre-recorded video statement in Hindi to the landmark General Debate of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly on Saturday. As the world's largest democracy, he asserted,India will bring years of rich experience for the benefit of the whole world. While the faithand respectthatthe UN enjoys among the 1.3 billion people in India is "unparalleled", it is also true that Indians have been waiting for a long time for the process for the reforms of the world body to get completed, he said.

"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. During his address, the Prime Minister also underscored the disconnect between the UN and contemporary global realities, saying 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, and raised questions on the response of the UN incombating the COVID19 pandemic "Over the last 8 to 9 months, the whole world has been battling the pandemic of the coronavirus. Where is the United Nations in this joint fight against the pandemic? Where is its effective response?" Modi said as he asserted that reform in the responses, in the processes, and in the very character of the UN is the need of the hour.

In his nearly 23-minute address, the prime minister said that even during these very difficult times of the raging pandemic, India's pharmaceutical industry has sent essential medicines to over 150 countries.

"As the largest vaccine producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today. India's vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis," Modi said in a strong assurance to the international community that is battling the devastating coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has so far infected over 32 million people and more than 993,500 people have died across the world. In India, the virus has infected nearly 6 million people and killed more than 93,000.

Modi told the 193-member UN General Assembly that in India and the neighbourhood, "we are moving ahead with phase 3 clinical trials in India." He further assured that India will also help all the countries in enhancing their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of the vaccines.

In his address, the prime minister also noted that India with more than 18 per cent of the world population and a leading global economy for centuries has 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.

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.

"With the changing times, if we don't change, then the drive needed to bring change will also get weakened," 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.

He pointed out 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.

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