Modi seeks greater role for India in global affairs: WSJ Interview

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a much higher, deeper and wider profile for India at the United Nations and other international organisations, blaming many of the world’s problems on a failure of global institutions to adapt to a changing world..

“Look at the membership of key institutions—does it truly represent the voice of democratic values?” he said. “A place like Africa — does it have a voice? India has such a huge population and is a bright spot in the global economy, but is it present?” Modi said during a rare interview that he gave to American financial newspaper Wall Street Journal.

“India deserves a much higher, deeper and wider profile and a role,” said Modi.

Linking many of the world’s problems, such as terrorism, proxy wars and expansionism, to a failure of global institutions created during the Cold War to adapt, the Prime Minister said smaller and regional groupings have emerged in the vacuum and global institutions such as the U.N. must change.

“There has to be an evaluation of the current membership of the (UN Security) council and the world should be asked if it wants India to be there,” Modi said, citing India’s role as a contributor of troops for peacekeeping operations around the world.

Portraying India as the leader of the global south, the 72-year-old leader called for making the United Nations and other international organisations more broadly representative of the world’s less-affluent nations and their priorities, from the consequences of climate change to debt reduction.

During the interview, which comes ahead of his state visit to the United States, Modi pointed out that there is an unprecedented trust” between the leaders of India and the United States/

Modi, who called the growing defence cooperation between the two countries as an important pillar of our partnership, is expected to finalise deals to manufacture jet-fighter engines in India to power the country’s Tejas advanced light combat aircraft and to purchase high-altitude armed Predator drones from the US to boost surveillance efforts over the Indian Ocean and the land border with China.

Rejecting criticism of India from some quarters about the treatment of minorities in the country, Modi said that India not only tolerates but celebrates its diversity.

“For thousands of years, India has been the land where people of all faiths and beliefs have found the freedom to coexist peacefully and prosper,” he said in a statement.

“You will find people of every faith in the world living in harmony in India.”

On the economic front, Modi has been trying to attract major global corporations to manufacturing in India as companies seek to diversify its supply chain after the Covid-related disruptions in China affected their production.

“Let me be clear that we do not see India as supplanting any country. We see this process as India gaining its rightful position in the world... The world today is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. To create resilience, there should be more diversification in supply chains,” the Prime Minister said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Trade between the two countries reached a record $191 billion in 2022, making the US India’s largest trading partner. The US is India’s third-biggest source of foreign direct investment, and one of the top five destinations for investment from India.”

Apart from the economic ties, India and the United States also share their frosty relationship with China. While the US seeks to contain an aggressive China, which seeks to challenge America’s global supremacy, Beijing believes that India needs to accept the Communist nation as the undisputed leader in Asia.

India blamed China for violating border agreements, and the two countries have held 18 rounds of military talks since 2020 to restore peace on the disputed border or the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“For normal bilateral ties with China, peace and tranquillity in the border areas is essential… We have a core belief in respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity, observing the rule of law and peaceful resolution of differences and disputes. At the same time, India is fully prepared and committed to protect its sovereignty and dignity,” Modi explained.

In spite of the cooperation between India and the US on China, New Delhi does not endorse Washington’s stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. India has abstained from UN votes condemning the invasion as Russia is the major supplier of its weapons.

“I think India’s position is well known and well understood in the entire world. The world has full confidence that India’s topmost priority is peace… Some people say that we are neutral. But we are not neutral. We are on the side of peace… All countries should respect international law and the sovereignty of countries and disputes should be resolved with diplomacy and dialogue, not war,” Modi said.

He said India will do whatever it can and support all genuine efforts to bring an end to the conflict and ensure enduring peace and stability.

Seeking to reclaim India’s historic civilisational legacy in the world, Modi said, “I am the first prime minister to be born in free India. And that’s why my thought process, my conduct, what I say and do, is inspired and influenced by my country’s attributes and traditions. I derive my strength from it. I present my country to the world as my country is, and myself, as I am.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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