Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his 22-minute long address to the United Nations General Assembly’s 75th General Debate session, slammed not just China and its expansionism, achieved by means of primitive debt-trapping of host countries, but also brought under question the present processes, responses and very structure which guides the United Nations itself. Pakistan, India’s eternal enemy, meanwhile, found no mention in the Prime Minister’s speech, as India projected itself as a superpower rightfully deserving of a spot in the global high table, instead of a country which incessantly rants about its own troubled neighbourhood.
The Prime Minister’s address made a clarion call to the global community to rise to the occasion, especially in a post-COVID world, and immediately and mandatorily reform the United Nations’ structure. That India deserves a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been known to the global community for long, however, constructive work in that direction has been remarkably slow.
Prime Minister Modi, while warning the UN, in no uncertain terms indicated that the patience of Indians was now wearing thin. “Today, people of India are concerned whether this reform-process will ever reach its logical conclusion. For how long will India be kept out of the decision-making structures of the United Nations?” the Prime Minister of the world’s largest and most diverse democracy asked.
The first half of the Prime Minister’s speech focussed on reminding the global community of the need to reform the United Nations, and bring it in sync with the present geopolitical realities of the world, which were starkly different from those back in the ’40s, when the UN was formed after World War II. “India will always speak in support of peace, security and prosperity…India will not hesitate in raising its voice against the enemies of humanity, the human race and human values – these include terrorism, smuggling of illegal weapons, drugs and money-laundering,” Prime Minister Modi said.
“Over the last eight to nine months, the whole world has been battling the pandemic of the Coronavirus. Where is the United Nations in this joint fight against the pandemic? Where is its effective response? … Your Excellency, reform in the responses, in the processes, and in the very character of the United Nations is the need of the hour.”
“Whether the character of the institution, constituted in the prevailing circumstances of 1945, is relevant even today? With the changing times, if we don’t change, then the drive needed to bring change will also get weakened,” PM Modi said.
PM Modi also, without directly naming China, shamed the middle kingdom for its unending appetite for expansionism, driven by the classic debt-trap diplomacy of weaker nations. “Any gesture of friendship by India towards one country is not directed against any third country. When India strengthens its development partnership, it is not with any mala fide intent of making the partner country dependent or hapless.” He said India has “always thought about the interests of the whole humankind and not about its own vested interests”, while also adding, “When we were strong, we were never a threat to the world, when we were weak, we never became a burden on the world.”
This is the very first time that Prime Minister Modi has so aggressively asked for reforms in the United Nations so that the multinational forum truly represents the world as it is today, and does not turn into a redundant body, organs of which have been bought out by China, case in point being the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has shamelessly pandered to the middle kingdom ever since the new virus strain started infecting people in the Chinese city of Wuhan. What China and WHO’s partnership in driving a local epidemic to a global pandemic has been cannot be called anything less than collusion to sink the global economy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is perhaps the first head of state to slam the UN, while addressing the organisation no less, and asking a pointed question to it in these times of COVID-19 as to what its response has been so far. The much-touted and expensive inter-governmental organisation has colossally failed at bringing countries together and guiding them to put up a united front against the pandemic, not to mention the country which caused it.
Prime Minister Modi’s message to the United Nations is clear: reform, and include India on the high table, or die a redundant death, with no support from the world’s largest democracy. India is generally supportive of ideals and principles which various multinational forums stand for. The explicit rebuke of the UN and its present structure, coming directly from PM Modi, is indicative of the fact that much like that of Indians, the Prime Minister’s patience is wearing out too.