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English rendering of the Statement by Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi at the General Debate of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)

Let me first congratulate you on your election as the President of the 69th session of United Nations General Assembly.

It is a truly a great honour to address you for the first time as the Prime Minister of India. I stand here conscious of the hopes and expectations of the people of India.

I am also mindful of the expectations of the world from 1.25 billion people.

India is a country that constitutes one-sixth of humanity; a nation experiencing economic and social transformation on a scale rarely seen in history.

Every nation`s world view is shaped by its civilization and philosophical tradition. India`s ancient wisdom sees the world as one family. It is reflected in a tradition of openness and diversity; co-existence and cooperation.

This is why India speaks not just for itself, but also for the cause of justice, dignity, opportunity and prosperity around the world.

It is also because of this timeless current of thought that India has an unwavering belief in multilateralism.

Today, as I stand here, I am equally aware of the hopes that are pinned on this great assembly. I am struck by the sacred belief that brought us together.

An extraordinary vision and a clear recognition of our shared destiny brought us together to build this institution for advancing peace and security, the rights of every human being and economic development for all. From 51 nations then, today 193 sovereign flags fly at this building. Each nation, born into freedom, has sought a place here with the same belief and hope.

We have achieved much in the past six decades in our mission in ending wars, preventing conflict, maintaining peace, feeding the hungry, striving to save our planet and creating opportunities for children. 69 UN peacekeeping missions since 1948 have made the blue helmet the colour of peace.

Today, there is a surge to democracy across the world; including in South Asia; in Afghanistan, we are at a historic moment of democratic transition and affirmation of unity. Afghans are showing that their desire for a peaceful and democratic future will prevail over violence. Nepal has moved from violence to peace and democracy; Bhutan`s young democracy is flourishing. Democracy is trying to find a voice in West Asia and North Africa; Tunisia`s success makes us believe that it is possible.

There is a new stirring for stability, progress and progress in Africa. There is unprecedented spread of prosperity in Asia and beyond, rising on the strength of peace and stability. Latin America, a continent of enormous potential, is coming together in shared pursuit of stability and prosperity, which could make it an important anchor of the world.

India desires a peaceful and stable environment for its development. A nation`s destiny is linked to its neighbourhood. That is why my Government has placed the highest priority on advancing friendship and cooperation with her neighbours.

This includes Pakistan. I am prepared to engage in a serious bilateral dialogue with Pakistan in a peaceful atmosphere, without the shadow of terrorism, to promote our friendship and cooperation. However, Pakistan must also take its responsibility seriously to create an appropriate environment for it. Raising issues in this forum will derail the efforts to resolve the issues between our two countries. Instead, today, we should be thinking about the victims of floods in Jammu and Kashmir. In India, we have organized massive flood relief operations and have also offered assistance for Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

India is part of the developing world, but we are prepared to share our modest resources with those countries that need this assistance as much as we do.

This is a time of great flux and change. The world is witnessing tensions and turmoil on a scale rarely seen in recent history. There are no major wars, but tensions and conflicts abound; and, there is absence of real peace and uncertainty about the future. An integrating Asia Pacific region is still concerned about maritime security that is fundamental to its future. Europe faces risk of new division. In West Asia, extremism and fault lines are growing. Our own region continues to face the destabilizing threat of terrorism. Africa faces the twin threat of rising terrorism and a health crisis.

Terrorism is taking new shape and new name. No country, big or small, in the north or the south, east or west, is free from its threat.

Are we really making concerted international efforts to fight these forces, or are we still hobbled by our politics, our divisions, our discrimination between countries, distinction between good and bad terrorists? Even today, states allow terrorist sanctuaries on their territory or use terrorism as instruments of their policy.

We welcome efforts to combat terrorism`s resurgence in West Asia, which is affecting countries near and far. The effort should involve the support of all countries in the region.

Today, even as seas, space and cyber space have become new instruments of prosperity, they could also become a new theatre of conflicts.

Today, more than ever, the need for international compact, which is the foundation of the United Nations, is stronger than before.

While we speak of an interdependent world, have we become more united as nations? Today, we still operate in various Gs with different numbers. India, too, is involved in several. But, how much are we able to work together as G1 or G-All.

On the one side, we say that our destinies are inter-linked, on the other hand we still think in terms of zero sum game. If the other benefits, I stand to lose.

It is easy to be cynical and say nothing will change; but if we do that, we run the risk of shirking our responsibilities and we put our collective future in danger. Let us bring ourselves in tune with the call of our times.

First, let us work for genuine peace.

No one country or group of countries can determine the course of this world. There has to be a genuine international partnership. This is not just a moral position, but a practical reality.

We need a genuine dialogue and engagement between countries. I say this from the conviction of the philosophical tradition that I come from.

Our efforts must begin here – in the United Nations.

We must reform the United Nations, including the Security Council, and make it more democratic and participative. Institutions that reflect the imperatives of 20th century won`t be effective in the 21st. It would face the risk of irrelevance; and we will face the risk of continuing turbulence with no one capable of addressing it.

We should put aside our differences and mount a concerted international effort to combat terrorism and extremism. As a symbol of this effort, I urge you to adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

We should ensure that there will be peace, stability and order in the outer space and cyber space.

We should work together to ensure that all countries observe international rules and norms.

We should energise the noble task of UN Peacekeeping; we should involve troop contributing countries in the process of decision making

Let us continue redouble our efforts to pursue universal global disarmament and non-proliferation.

Second, we must pursue a more stable and inclusive global development

Globalisation has created new poles of growth; new industries; and new source of employment.

At the same time, billions live on the edge of poverty and want; countries that are barely able to survive a global economic storm.

There has never been a time when it has seemed more possible than now to change this.

Technology has made things possible; the cost of providing it has reduced. We no longer are totally dependent on bricks and mortars.

If you think of the speed with which Facebook or Twitter has spread around the world, if you think of the speed with which cell phones have spread, then you must also believe that development and empowerment can spread with the same speed.

Each country must of course take its own national measures; each government must fulfil its responsibility to support growth and development.

At the same time, we also require a genuine international partnership. At one level, it means a better coordination of policy so that our efforts becomes mutually supportive, not mutually damaging.

It also means that when we craft agreements on international trade, we accommodate each other`s concerns and interests.

When we think of the scale of want in the world – 2.5 billion people without access to basic sanitation; 1.3 billion people without access to electricity; or 1.1 billion people without access to drinking water, we need a more comprehensive and concerted direct international action.

In India, the most important aspects of my development agenda are precisely to focus on these issues and address them in a definite time frame.

The eradication of poverty must remain at the core of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and command our fullest attention.

Third, we must seek a more habitable and sustainable world

There are debates and documents on these issues. But, we see many things around us that should cause us alarm. And, also many things that we no longer see – forests, birds and animals, clean rivers and lakes and blue skies.

I want to say three things.

One, we should be honest in shouldering our responsibilities in meeting the challenges.

The world had agreed on a beautiful balance of collective action – common but differentiated responsibilities. That should form the basis of continued action.

This also means that the developed countries must fulfill their commitments for funding and technology transfer.

Second, national action is imperative. Technology has made many things possible. We need imagination and commitment.

India is prepared to share its technology and capabilities, just as we have announced a free satellite for the SAARC countries.

Third, we need to change our lifestyles. Energy not consumed is the cleanest energy.

We can achieve the same level of development, prosperity and well being without necessarily going down the path of reckless consumption. It doesn`t mean that economies will suffer; it will mean that our economies will take on a different character.

For us in India, respect for nature is an integral part of spiritualism. We treat nature`s bounties as sacred.

Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition.

Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change.

Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.

Finally,

We are at a historic moment

Every age is defined by its character; and, each generation is remembered for how it rose together to meet its challenges.

We have that responsibility to rise to our challenges now. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in this great assembly.

Next year we will be seventy. We should ask ourselves whether we should wait until we are 80 or 100.

Let us fulfill our promise to reform the United Nations Security Council. Let us fulfill our pledge on a Post-2015 Development Agenda so that there is new hope and belief in us around the world. Let us make 2015 also a new watershed for a sustainable world. Let it be the beginning of a new journey together.

Thank you.

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Baba Saheb Ambedkar was a person with universal vision: PM Modi
April 14, 2021
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Baba Saheb Ambedkar had a universal vision: PM Modi
Baba Saheb Ambedkar gave a strong foundation to independent India so the nation could move forward while strengthening its democratic heritage: PM
We have to give opportunities to the youth according to their potential. Our efforts towards this is the only tribute to Baba Saheb Ambedkar: PM

Namaskar!

Present with me in this programme, Gujarat Governor Acharya Shri Dev Vrat ji, the country’s Education Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank ji, Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Vijay Rupani ji, Education Minister of Gujarat Shri Bhupendra Singh ji, Chairman of UGC Prof. D.P.Singh ji, Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Ami Upadhyay ji, Association of Indian Universities President Prof. Taj Pratap ji, all dignitaries and friends.

Today when the country is celebrating the Amrit Mahotsav of Independence, the occasion of Babasaheb Ambedkar ji's birth anniversary also connects us with that great yagna and also with the inspiration of the future. On behalf of the grateful nation and all the countrymen, I pay my respectful homage to Babasaheb.

Friends,

During the freedom struggle, millions and millions of our freedom fighters dreamt of a harmonious and inclusive India. Babasaheb made the beginning in realizing those dreams in the form of the Constitution to the country. Today India is creating a new future and achieving new dimensions of success by following the same Constitution.

Friends,

Today, the 95th meeting of the Vice Chancellors of Association of Indian Universities is taking place on this auspicious day. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University has announced the establishment of 'Babasaheb Samarasta Chair'. The four books written by Shri Kishore Makwana ji have also been released on Babasaheb's life, his thoughts and ideals. I congratulate all the dignitaries involved in these efforts.

Friends,

India has been the mother of democracy in the world. Democracy has been an integral part of our civilization and our way of life. Babasaheb laid a strong foundation to independent India so the nation could move forward while strengthening its democratic heritage. When we read and understand Babasaheb, we realize that he was a person of universal vision.

There is a clear vision of Babasaheb's philosophy in Shri Kishore Makwana ji's books. While one of his books introduces Babasaheb’s “Jeevan Darshan” (philosophy of life), the other focuses on “Vyakti Darshan” (individual philosophy). Similarly, the third book highlights Babasaheb's “Rashtra Darshan” (national philosophy), whereas the fourth book “Aayam Darshan” will introduce his philosophy of dimension to the countrymen.  These four philosophies are no less than modern scriptures in themselves.

I would like our new generation in colleges and universities to read more and more of such books. All these dimensions, whether it is the inclusive society, the concern for the rights of the Dalit-deprived society, the question of upliftment and contribution of women, or Babasaheb's vision on education and especially on higher education, will offer an opportunity to the youth of the country to understand Babasaheb.

Friends,

Doctor Ambedkar would say:

"My three revered deities are -- Knowledge, self-respect and politeness.” Self-respect comes with knowledge and makes a person aware of his or her rights. Through equal rights, social harmony emerges and the country progresses.

We are all familiar with Babasaheb's struggles of life. The position that Babasaheb reached after so many struggles is a great inspiration for all of us. Our education system and universities have this responsibility to carry the country forward on the path shown by Babasaheb Ambedkar. And when it is the issue of common goals and shared efforts as a nation, collective efforts become the means of accomplishment.

Therefore, I think the role of Association of Indian Universities becomes very important. AIU also has the legacy of scholars like Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan ji, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Smt. Hansa Mehta and Dr. Zakir Hussain.

Dr. Radhakrishnan ji would say: “The end-product of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature”.

It implies that education should be such which should liberate the person, so that he can think openly, and make something new with a new thinking. He believed that we should develop our education management as a unit of the entire world. But at the same time, he emphasized the Indian character of education. This becomes even more important in the global scenario today.

Here special issues were released on the new 'National Education Policy' and plan for its implementation. These issues are detailed documents how National Education Policy is a futuristic policy, a policy of global parameters. You all scholars are familiar with the nuances of the National Education Policy. The purpose of education that Dr. Radhakrishnan ji spoke about is reflected in the core of this policy.

I am told that this time the theme of the seminar is - 'Implementing National Educational Policy-2020 to Transforming Higher Education in India'. All of you deserve congratulations for this.

I have been constantly discussing NEP with experts. National Education Policy is as practical as its implementation.

Friends,

You have dedicated your entire life to education. You all know very well that every student has his own capability and capacity. Based on these capabilities, students and teachers also have three questions.

First: What can they do?

Second: What is their potential if they are properly taught?

And, third, what they want to do?

What a student can do is his inner strength. But if we add institutional strength to his inner strength, his development becomes expansive. With this combination, our youth can do what they want to do. Therefore, the country’s special emphasis is on skill development. As the country is moving ahead with the mission of the AatmaNirbhar Bharat, the role and demand of skilled youths is also increasing.

Friends,

In view of the strength of skills, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee had placed greater emphasis on the collaboration of educational institutions and industries decades ago. Today, the country has immense opportunities, and there are new industries of modern times. India is being looked upon as a future centre of Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data, 3D printing, Virtual Reality, Robotics, mobile technology, geo-informatics, smart healthcare and defence sector. The country is taking huge steps to meet these requirements.

Indian Institutes of Skills are being set up in three big metropolitans of the country. The first batch of the Indian Institute of Skills has already started in Mumbai a few months ago in December. The Future Skills Initiative was launched with NASSCOM in 2018. This initiative offers training in more than 150 skill sets in 10 emerging technologies.

Friends,

The new National Policy on Education also provides for NETF which emphasizes the maximum use of technology in education. We want all universities to be multi-disciplinary. We want to give flexibility to students so that they can complete courses anywhere easily through the easy entry-exit and Academic Bank of Credit. Every university in the country will have to work together to achieve all these goals. All the Vice Chancellors have to pay special attention to this.

A huge skill pool will be created in our universities for the new possibilities that we can create in the country. All of you are requested to work in this direction more expeditiously and the work should be completed within a stipulated time.

Friends,

The country is rapidly transforming the lives of the poor, Dalits, the victims, the exploited and the deprived following the footsteps of Babasaheb Ambedkar. Babasaheb talked about equal opportunities and equal rights. Today, schemes like Jan Dhan accounts are leading to financial inclusion of every person and through DBT money is reaching directly to their accounts.  The BHIM UPI that was launched for the digital economy has become a great strength for the poor today. Today, every poor person is getting a house and free electricity connection. Similarly, work is in the progress to provide clean water to villages under the Jal Jeevan Mission.

When there was a corona crisis, the country stood up for the poor and the labourers. There is no discrimination among the poor and the rich in the world's largest vaccination program. This is the path shown by Babasaheb and these are his ideals.

Friends,

Babasaheb always emphasized on women empowerment and made many efforts in this direction. It is with this vision that the country is giving new opportunities to its daughters today. From toilets at home and schools to combat roles in the army, women are at the centre of every policy of the country today.

Similarly, the country is working to spread Babasaheb's message to the people. The places associated with Babasaheb are being developed as Panch Teerth.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to dedicate the Dr. Ambedkar International Centre. Today, this Centre is emerging as a centre of research on social and economic issues and on Babasaheb's life.

Friends,

Today, we are close to 75 years of independence, and we have goals for the next 25 years. The country’s future, the future goals and successes of the country are linked to our youth. It is our youth who will fulfill these resolutions. We have to give opportunities to the youth of the country to the best of their ability.

I am confident that our collective resolve and conscious efforts of the education world will realise this dream of a New India.

Our efforts and the hard work will be our tribute to Babasaheb.

With these good wishes, I once again thank you all very much. I wish you all the very best on Navratri. I also extend my special greetings on the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Many thanks.