After his address at 'Howdy Modi' event at Houston in the United States of America (USA) earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday. Both the events created much anticipation and excitement among his followers, political commentators, and media personnel alike. But there was an important difference between the two events.
In Houston, it was clearly Modi— the politician who enjoys the support of millions of Indians — who spoke with an intent to connect with his fans and followers gathered at the NRG Stadium.
In his speech, Modi, although stopped short of naming Pakistan, but his reference to "that country" was quite clear. He also spoke about "bidding farewell" to Article 370 — a temporary provision in the Indian Constitution that gave a semi-autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir — attracting thunderous applause from the crowd.
On the other hand, on Friday when Modi addressed the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) it became evident that it was Prime Minister Modi — a world leader of global appeal — who took the stage to address the comity of nations.
In his short and crisp speech that lasted for 16.44 seconds, Modi spoke like a true statesman whose intent on addressing global issues like environmental degradation and extremism was clear. And at the same time, he also reminded the world of India's contribution to environmental protection and in ensuring global peace.
He highlighted that India is among the nations leading the fight against global warming. He said, "If we are to look at Per Capita Emissions, India's role in furthering global warming has always been historically low. Yet, we have taken the lead when it comes to harnessing renewable resources. India is also at the forefront of building consensus on disaster management."
He also highlighted India's resolve and commitment to end the use of single-use plastic. He added, "On one hand, we are working towards achieving the target of 450 gigawatts of renewable energy, and on the other hand, we have also taken the initiative to create the International Solar Alliance."
Speaking on the issue of global peace, Modi said that India has given the world 'Buddh' and not 'Yuddh (war)' and recalled Swami Vivekananda's message of' harmony and peace to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. He said the world's largest democracy still has the same message for the world.
His entire speech which was underlined by a clear intent of sending a message to the world that while India can be seen as a 'developing country', its success story in areas that stretch from finance to healthcare, from sanitation to women empowerment, is for the world to take note of and get inspired.
Talking about various welfare schemes such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, Ayushmann Bharat, and Aadhaar, among others, launched by his government in the last six years and its success, Modi said the experience derived out of these projects could be beneficial for other developing nations as well.
"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. There was general anticipation that PM Modi would use the platform to target Pakistan on the issue of terrorism and would also talk about the abrogation of Article 370. People also expected a dramatic 'faceoff' of words as Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan was also scheduled to speak at the UNGA on the same day.
However, Modi speech dashed all hopes of chest-thumpers by focusing on development and collective endeavors to fight global problems, and in doing so, he displayed the maturity of Indian democracy in understanding the importance of forums like UNGA. Modi said that India's motto is "collective efforts for the growth of all, with everyone's trust," adding that the endeavors are inspired by a sense of duty.
Quoting the Tamil poet Kaniyan Pungundranar's famous quotes "Yaadhum Oore YaavarumKelir" which means, "We belong to all places, and to everyone," Modi said this sense of belonging beyond borders, is unique to India.
"In the last five 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.
Stressing on the 'collective effort', Modi urged the global community to give a new direction to multilateralism. He said, "A fragmented world is in no one's interest. Neither do we have the option to confine ourselves within our boundaries".
However, Khan's speech was in sharp contrast to Modi's sobriety and maturity. Khan stuck to his war rhetoric and focus on Kashmir and even hinted on a full-fledged war resulting in "the seven times smaller nation" resorting to using its nuclear weapon.
In the last few weeks, since the abrogation of Article370, Pakistan has accused India of human rights violation and has raised the issue of Kashmir on every possible platform.
Pakistan prime minister would have expected Modi to address these issues in his speech at UNGA and keeping that in mind would have prepared his speech. But, Modi, intelligently chose not to talk about something that is, by all means, a bilateral issue for India, on a multilateral forum like that of the United Nations. And, by doing so Modi outwitted Pakistan in great measure and raised his political stature to a great extent.
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Updated Date: Sep 29, 2019 08:28:13 IST