In his address to the high-level debate at the UN General Assembly on Saturday, Narendra Modi reaffirmed India’s commitment to democracy, highlighted its great strides in developing and manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines, and warned against “countries with regressive thinking.”
In a pre-recorded address, Prime Minister Modi highlighted that India is a country that has been known by its tradition on democracy. “India is proud to be known to be the mother of democracy”, he said, adding that: “Diversity is the identity of our strong democracy.”
India is moving forward
Mr. Modi said that his country’s priority was that development should be all-inclusive, all-pervasive, universal and one that nurtures all.
Listing insurance coverage, access to quality health services, and housing, as areas where India has showed progress in the past years, Mr. Modi went on to speak about the problem of water pollution.
“Polluted water is a problem not only for India, but for the entire world, and in particular for poor and developing countries.”
In order to address this challenge in India, Mr. Modi said that the country is carrying out a campaign to ensure that piped clean water reaches over 170 million homes in India. For the development of any country, people must have property rights to their homes and land.
To that end, India was using drones to map over 600,000 villages to give people digital records of their homes and lands, a process that will reduce property disputes and give people increased access to credit and bank loans.
‘Come, make vaccine in India’
The Prime Minister went on to say that India’s progress in the scientific and technological sectors was scalable, cost effective and could benefit the world. Indeed, its new COVID-19 vaccine delivery programme offered digital support to register the administration of millions of doses in a single day.
He also announced that India has developed the world’s first DNA vaccine, which can be administered to anyone above the age of 12, and an mRNA vaccine that is in the final stages of development, he added.
“Despite limited resources, India … is completely invested in the development and manufacture of vaccines,” said Mr. Modi, issuing an open invitation to manufactures across the world: “Come, make vaccine in India.”
Science-based, progressive thinking is the way forward
The pandemic had taught the world that the global economy needs to be expanded further, he continued, stressing that for its part, India is becoming a democratic and reliable partner for global industrial diversification. Moreover, India has struck a balance between economy and ecology, and is moving forward with “great speed” on its renewable energy goals.
“Science-based, rational and progressive thinking must be the basis for development,” said Mr. Modi, explaining that India was rolling out innovative programmes in schools, creating ‘start-up labs’, and, in honor of the 75th anniversary of the country’s independence, planning to launch 75 satellites – made by Indian students – into space.
The Prime Minister said that countries with regressive thinking, “that use terrorism as a political tool, must realize they create a threat for themselves, as well.” In that context, it was essential to ensure Afghanistan was not used to spread terrorism, and that “no country takes advantage of the delicate situation there for its own selfish interests.”
A more effective United Nations
“Today, all kinds of questions have been raised about the UN,” Mr. Modi said. “We have seen such questions being raised related to the climate crisis. And we also saw that during COVID-19, the proxy war going on in many parts of the world, terrorism, and the recent Afghan crisis have further highlighted the seriousness of these questions.”
He stressed that if the United Nations is to remain relevant, it will need to improve its effectiveness and enhance its reliability, vital for the Organization to meet current challenges. However, “with regard to the origin of COVID-19 and the ease of doing business rankings, institutions of global governance have damaged the credibility they had built after decades of hard work,” he noted.