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Modi in Brussels: Define terrorism or UN may become irrelevant

india Updated: Mar 31, 2016 10:55 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the community event in Brussels on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi cautioned that the United Nations may become irrelevant if it continued to drag its feet on India’s demand to pass a resolution defining terrorism, its supporters and the criteria for declaring a country a supporter of terrorism.

Read more: Terrorism, UN, corruption: Top quotes from PM Modi’s Brussels speech

“If this is not done soon, institutions such as the United Nations may soon become irrelevant,” Modi said, addressing a large audience of diaspora at Brussels on Wednesday, and added that religion needed to be delinked from terrorism while countering it across the globe in a united stand.

Arriving in Belgian capital barely a week after the city was shaken by a terrorist attack, Modi observed one minute of silence along with the 5,000-strong gathering in memory of the victims of the March 22. Explosions shattered the Brussels airport and the Maelbeek metro station, killing more than 30 people, including Indian IT professional Raghavendran Ganeshan.

“India lost more people to terrorism than to wars since independence. When we raised the issue of terrorism, we were told (by the west) that it is a law and order issue. But they realised its challenge when the ground slipped beneath their feet on 9/11,” Modi said.

Read more: In Brussels, Modi asks world leaders to unite in fight against terror

Continuing the theme of terrorism that dominated most of his interactions through the day, the Prime Minister said India would never bow to terrorism to much applause from the gathering.

“India has not bowed to terrorism; there is no chance of bowing to it now.”

Read more: PM Modi mourns Brussels victim Ganeshan, beckons Belgian investment

He once again called on the international body to spell out terrorism so that the distinction being made in some countries and regions between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorism could be obliterated.

But it wasn’t just his take on terrorism that kept his audience going; Modi, who was in Brussels to attend the India-EU summit, drew many cheers when he referred to bank accounts being opened for the poor under his government’s plans. “There are those who take money from banks and run away, and there are the poor who deposit Rs 34,000 crore in banks,” he said, making an oblique reference to businessman Vijay Mallya who is being prosecuted for a Rs 7,000 crore loan to a consortium of banks.

Modi further claimed “there is not a single government school in India without a toilet for girls”, and listed several achievements of the NDA in the area of urea and coal production, highways, ports, software exports, solar energy, giving gas connections to the poor and rural electrification. He also said the one-rank-one-pension (OROP) demand has been implemented.

Based on his experience in the government so far, corruption can be eradicated, Modi added.

The Prime Minister went on to say that 2015 saw targets being reached in various areas that had never been reached since independence.

The important aspect through all of this is communication, it appeared, as he mentioned some of his government’s diplomatic progress.

“We solved the land and water issue with Bangladesh through talks. But some neighbours do not understand talks, but they will someday realise that issues can be resolved by talks,” Modi said in another oblique reference, this time directed at Pakistan.

Calling Indians in Brussels and those settled abroad as the ambassadors of the country, Modi listed several measures for the benefit of non-resident Indians, including plans to increase the baggage allowance of passengers arriving in India.

Modi concluded his day-long visit with the community event and headed to Washington to attend the Nuclear Security summit.