In his second address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday urged the international community to stand against terrorism, calling it a challenge not just for one country but for the entire world and mankind.
Addressing the 74th General Assembly session, Modi said that the world needs to be united against terror as that was the basis on which the United Nations was founded. Delivering a 20-minute speech in Hindi, the prime minister said that India has always spread the message of peace and has contributed most significantly to the UN peace-keeping missions. “And that is the reason why, our voice against terrorism, to alert the world about this evil, rings with seriousness and outrage,” he said.
Modi said the world will celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, whose message of truth and non-violence remains relevant even today, “for peace, development and progress in the world.”
Announcing the formation of the ‘Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) to help build infrastructure which can withstand natural disasters, Modi also highlighted the issue of climate change.
He said that India is among the leading nations fighting global warming.
“On one hand, we are working towards achieving the target of 450 Giga Watts of renewable energy, and on the other hand, we have also taken the initiative to create the International Solar Alliance,” he said.
Modi also talked about his aim to make India a plastic-free nation and that a campaign has been launched to effectively execute this goal. “I am pleased to inform this august assembly that even as I am addressing you today, a very large campaign is being started across the entire country to make India free of single-use plastic,” he said.
The prime minister did not mention Kashmir or Pakistan in his address. He had last spoken at the 69th United Nations General Assembly after being elected in 2014. The September 2014 UNGA had witnessed the Prime Minister of India calling for the early adaptation of the Comprehensive Convention on Global Terrorism. Former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had represented India at the world body in the subsequent years.
Modi’s address at the General Assembly comes on the final day of his week-long visit to the US, which began with the Howdy, Modi! event in Houston, where he shared the stage with US president Donald Trump. Modi was also honoured with the controversial Global Goalkeeper Award by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for his contributions to the cleanliness drive and efforts to improve access to sanitation in India through Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.
He also met the CEOs of top global companies, including Boeing, Shell and Walmart, during the past week, urgin them to invest in India.
Laying emphasis on various welfare schemes and their success in India, such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, Ayushmann Bharat, Aadhaar initiative, among others, Modi said the experience derived out of these projects could be beneficial for other developing nations. “The very core of our approach is public welfare through public participation and this public welfare is not just for India but for the entire world,” he said.
Modi said that India’s motto is “collective efforts, for growth of all, with everyone’s trust”, adding that the endeavours are inspired by a sense of duty.
Quoting the Tamil poet Kaniyan Pungundranar’s famous quotes “Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelir” which means, ‘We belong to all places, and to everyone’, the prime minister said this sense of belonging beyond borders, is unique to India.
“In the last 5 years, India has worked towards strengthening its centuries-old great tradition of fraternity among nations and welfare of the world, which is, indeed, in line with the key objectives of the United Nations,” he said.
Modi also referred to Swami Vivekananda’s historic address at the convention of Parliament of Religions in Chicago and asserted that India’s message to the global community remained the message of harmony and peace which the spiritual guru gave in 1893. “One hundred and twenty-five years ago, the great spiritual guru Swami Vivekananda gave this message to the world during the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. The message was harmony and peace. And not dissension. Today, the message from the world’s largest democracy, for the International community is still the same: harmony and peace,” he said.
Urging the global community to give a new direction to multilateralism, Modi called for collective global efforts to address pressing challenges.
“A fragmented world, is in the interest of no one. Neither do we have the option to confine ourselves within our boundaries,” he said.