Mumbai: Terming India a partner of choice of the UN, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that New Delhi has increased its impact on the international stage due to the donation of medicines, equipment, and vaccines at height of Covid-19 to neighbouring countries.
Addressing the students at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, Guterres said, "From your donations of medicines, equipment and vaccines at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, to your humanitarian assistance and development finance to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, you're increasing impact on the international stage. India is today a partner of choice of the UN." UN Chief, who arrived in Mumbai today, said that India's digital platform Cowin is the largest vaccination program for Covid-19 which is delivering more than 2 billion doses.
He further said that India was the first country to launch a single-country south-south cooperation support framework via the India-UN development framework partnership.
Talking about India's contribution to UN Peacekeeping, Guterres said, "India is also the biggest provider of military and police personnel to UN missions, including the first all-women UN police contingent to a peacekeeping mission. Over 200,000 Indian men and women have served in 49 peacekeeping missions since 1948, a remarkable contribution to peace in the world. " "As a member of UNSC for two years, India's contributed significantly to promoting multilateral solutions and addressing crises," he added.
In the opening of his statement, UN Chief said that he is delighted to celebrate with India, the 75th anniversary of independence. He also congratulated India on its achievement over the last 75 years "as the world's largest democracy and now as the fastest-growing major economy." Guterres said that India was a founding member of the United Nations. The drafters of the UN Charter took great inspiration from Gandhiji's message of peace, non-violence, and tolerance.
Earlier, UN Chief paid tributes to the victims of the 26/11 terror attacks at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai.
"Terror is absolute evil. There are no reasons, no pretext, no causes, and no grievances that can justify terrorism. terrorism is absolute evil. It has no room in today's world," Guterres said while addressing the presser at Taj Hotel.
UN Chief further said, "I feel deeply moved to be here where one of the barbaric terrorist acts in history took place where 166 people lost their lives. I want to pay tribute to the victims they are heroes of all world and I want to express my deepest condolences to their families, to their friends, to the people of India, and to all those that are coming from other parts of the world that have lost their lives in Mumbai."
He also said that "fighting terrorism must be a global priority for every country on earth and fighting terrorism is a central priority for the UN".
On the very next day, in Gujarat (Ekta Nagar, Kevadiya), he will join Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the launch of the Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) booklet, logo, and tagline.
External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar would hold bilateral discussions with the UN chief on issues of global concern, and steps to deepen India's engagement with the UN, including through India's upcoming Presidency of the G20 and reformed multilateralism, added the release.
In Kevadiya, Guterres is expected to pay floral tributes at the Statue of Unity. He will also be visiting India's first solar-powered village in Modhera (Gujarat) and other development projects in the area. UNSG will also be visiting the Sun Temple in Modhera, before departing for his onward destination.