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PM's Address at 75th UNGA (26 September 2020)

PM's Address at 75th UNGA (26 September 2020)

Why in News:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually addressed the 75th session of the UNGA (United Nations General Assembly)on September 26, 2020, in Hindi.

Context:

In his address to the landmark 75th United Nations General Assembly Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined the need for reforms in the processes and responses of the UN and said every Indian aspires for India's expanded role in United Nations.

Background:

The United Nations (UN) was set up, 75 years ago, with the principal aim of maintaining world peace and security.

The UN General Assembly this year is largely being held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This will be Modi's third address at UNGA.

The theme of the 75th UNGA is The future we want, the United Nations we need, reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism - confronting the COVID-19 through effective multilateral action'.

Summary of the Debate

Key Highlights of PM Modi speech at UNGA:

  • Multilateralism: The larger point seems to be that India is not simply demanding that India becomes a permanent member of the UNSC, the larger point that PM made was ‘The global multilateral order is under stress unlike any time in the past’. There are two major power which are pulling in opposite direction, the power which is rising and challenging the very fundamental of that order and the power which hUN Reforms & Indiaas established this, is no longer concerned about it. He urged the international community to give a new direction to multilateralism.
  • UN Peacekeeping Mission: India has made one of the largest contributions to the UN peacekeeping force which again signifies India’s commitment in the UN and India has lost largest numbers of people who have sacrificed their lives in keeping peace in the other parts of the world.
  • Terrorism: One of the policy measures, this government has taken over the last few years is to amplify the message about terrorism on all possible fora. To use this occasion, once again PM reiterates India’s commitment to fighting terror and also making sure that multilateral framework like the UN becomes more robust when it comes to tackling terror.
  • Neighbourhood: PM mentioned that the India always stressed on good for the whole world in the UN including its neigbours. He carried on by saying that India is looking for an extended role in the UN which again was takeoff from his earliest remarks that till when India will be kept away from the UN decision making process.
  • Health: PM Modi refer the world’s biggest health insurance scheme 'Ayushman Bharat' and he stressed how this scheme provided, free medical treatment up to Rs 5 lakh for over 50 crore people. He also recounted India’s achievements in the health sector and said that the country is committed to eradicating Tuberculosis by 2025.
  • Countering China: PM in his statement, without naming China, he was juxtaposing the differences between India and China, between a country that is a responsible global stakeholder on all issues versus other countries seemingly those countries that perhaps are not and the target was clearly China, whether he was retreating India’s commitment to fighting terrorism, whether it was India’s democratic credential, whether what India has been able to achieve domestically, what India has been to do with its neighbours in terms of neighbourhood first policy where India does not really provoke its neighbours.
  • Financial Inclusion: PM Modi referred to the 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana' and said that in just five years, more than 37 crore people have got bank accounts opened. This builds trust in the poor people across the world and prime example of financial inclusion.
  • India’s response to covid-19: PM also underlined the fact that over 150 countries was sent medical supplies by Indian pharmaceutical companies during covid crisis and he also said that the India’s vaccine production will help in bringing the world out of pandemic.
  • Governance: Unless, country like India given the due seat at the table, unless they brought at board, the larger problem that the world is facing in terms of global governance will only going to get magnify and also global order is not going to sustain if India is not there.

Demand of Reforms at United Nations:

  • Multilateralism: The world of 1945 gave very little importance to India, India was not even an independent country in 1945. Today India is one of the leading global players and that is why the PM in his addressed to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on 17th July earlier this year had called for reform multilateralism. He said “Only reform in multilateralism with a reform in UN at its centre can meet the aspiration of humanity”. A new model of the UN must be formulated, as current world order has changed from bipolar to unipolar to multi polar today.
  • Security Council Reforms: The larger question always was UNSC reform. In January 2021, India will be part of the non-permanent member of the UNSC. In UNSC, the permanent member countries (P5) have made the UN defunct in maintaining peace and order. Therefore, veto powers of P5 and composition of UNSC must be made more representative of the current world order.
  • Democratisation of UN: Developing countries like India are proposing reforms that seek to democratize the UN, such as UNSC reforms, UN peacekeeping reforms.
  • Financial Reforms: This holds the key to the future of the UN. The UN is in a permanent financial crisis due to the unwillingness of many members to pay their contributions on time. Without sufficient resources, the UN's activities and role would suffer.

United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

  • The UN Charter established ECOSOC in 1945 as one of the six main organs of the United Nations.
  • It is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as implementation of internationally agreed development goals.
  • It has 54 Members, elected by the General Assembly for overlapping three-year terms. India is the member of ECOSOC (From 1 January 2018 – 31 December 2020)

Way Forward:

  • It is the responsibility of major powers in particular to rise up to the occasion and make sure that the challenges like terrorism is confronted and dealt with.
  • There is going to be new world post pandemic. So, how the world will prepare for itself while the challenges exist as of now. But the world is going to be vastly different, this is what most policy makers looking at and UN being a multilateral forum offers that kind of platform.
  • India very clearly sent a message that it will continue to play the role that India has always played but if India’s involvement is not increase in the UN then it is the UN credibility that goes down, the multilateral order that UN wants to create gets weakened. So, it is not simply about India gets seat on high table, it is about how UN see its future at a critical juncture of 75 years of its inception.

Important points made by the Guests

Prabhu Dayal, Former Ambassador      

  • The main focus of PM speech was call for reforms in UN and also put across India’s friends. The PM very rightly said that the world was significantly different in 1945, the problems, the solutions were all different and he also said that the challenges of our present and future are different.
  • Today, he again called for reform in UN because he said reform is needed in the UN and he also said Indians belief in UN unparallel but the Indians are waiting for the reforms in UN and the fact that he made this statement on virtually the eve of India entering the UN as a non-permanent of the Security Council.
  • After the 75th years of its establishment, the UN in its present form and its present structure does not reflect global reality today.
  • In the context of terrorism, PM was trying to point out that the entire world needs to be concerned about it. There was a terrorist attack in Paris today and the person who was involved in it turned out to be person of Pakistani origin. Now the global community is increasingly realizing Pakistan’s involvement directly or indirectly in terrorist activities all over the world and the PM did not mentioned any country by the name but the world realizes where the problem is.
  • PM was pointing out the new challenges that confront the global community. The fact that the UN should be at the centre of combatting all the challenges but the fact that the UN has not been able to keep pace with reform prevents the UN from fulfilling its role properly.

Prof. Harsh V. Pant, Head, Strategic Studies Programme, ORF 

  • In the early stage of covid-19, the China was involved in its own internal constraints, USA was looking more and more inverse, European Union (EU) was busy with its own internal dysfunctionalities, India emerged as a country with a very responsible take on this problem, not only galvanizing response in its neighborhood but also calling for a larger G20 response to this problem.
  • So, in a sense, leadership was represented, not in the traditional leadership structure, but in an emerging power like India that embodied that leadership.
  • There was a larger narrative emerging from the PM statement which was about telling UN that You have in UNSC, a country like China that have been very detrimental to larger framework of the multilateralism and here is a country like India that has always been building or strengthening that multilateral framework despite being on the outside.
  • It was the message that conveyed the role that India has traditionally played in multilateral forums like UN. It was a message about India’s global engagement over the last few decades and continued global engagement today.

K.V. Prasad, Senior Associate Editor, The Tribune

  • One of the biggest thing PM has said that the issue of relevance at United Nation itself because he very clearly mentioned that ‘The UN was formed in 1945 and the world has changed in the last 75 years and India has kept pace with the changing pace of the world’.
  • India has been pressing for long for reforms and he said Indians are waiting with lot of patience to see.
  • The second aspect of it also was India’s contribution in this time of pandemic, the dual pandemic that has affected in the last 6 months has played a different role in different country.
  • The PM has made a very big announcement by saying that India is ready to serve the world in terms of supply of vaccine and that is something he gave an assurance to General Assembly.
  • One of the issues that has always been pointed out by PM that ‘We have to perform and reform with the human pace because it’s a humanitarian effort that when everybody was looking inward India supplied medicines and other things to the world and many countries acknowledges the India’s effort’.

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