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India deserves much higher, deeper, wider profile, role: Modi

Jun 20, 2023 11:18 AM IST

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ahead of his official state visit to Washington, Modi underlined the changes were needed to make these institutions more broadly representative

India deserves a much higher, deeper, and wider profile and role, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said while calling for changes to the United Nations (UN) and other international organisations to adapt them for an increasingly multipolar world order.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi emplaning for the US visit on Tuesday. (Twitter)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi emplaning for the US visit on Tuesday. (Twitter)

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ahead of his official state visit to Washington, Modi underlined the changes were needed to make these institutions more broadly representative of the world’s less-affluent nations and their priorities, from the consequences of climate change to debt reduction.

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Modi linked 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. He said that smaller and regional groupings have emerged in the vacuum. He added that global institutions such as the UN must change.

“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?”

He signalled India’s desire to be on the UN Security Council. Modi pointed to India’s role as a contributor of troops for peacekeeping operations around the world. He added there has to be an evaluation of the current membership of the council and the world should be asked if it wants India to be there.

“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,” he said. “I present my country to the world as my country is, and myself, as I am.”

He said the ties between India and the United States (US) are stronger and deeper than ever as New Delhi moves to secure its rightful place on the world stage amid geopolitical turmoil.

Modi spoke about “unprecedented trust” between the leaders of the US and India while hailing growing defence cooperation between the two countries as “an important pillar” of their partnership extending to trade, technology, and energy.

WSJ noted Modi is expected to seal deals to manufacture jet-fighter engines in India for advanced light combat aircraft and for the purchase of high-altitude armed Predator drones in Washington this week as part of a multibillion-dollar pact to boost surveillance over the Indian Ocean and near along the border with China.

Modi underlined that they do not see India as supplanting any country. “The world today is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. To create resilience, there should be more diversification in supply chains.”

Modi reiterated peace and tranquillity in the border areas were essential for normal bilateral ties with China. “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.”

WSJ noted that New Delhi stands to gain as the West squares off against Moscow and increasingly China. It added Washington has courted India hoping that it will be a strategic counterweight to Beijing and that the US has moved to deepen defence ties even as New Delhi makes large purchases of Russian oil at discounted prices, providing financial support for Moscow as it wages war in Ukraine.

Modi referred to criticism of India’s stance on Russia and said New Delhi’s position is well-known and well-understood in the entire world. “The world has full confidence that India’s topmost priority is peace.”

He said when it comes to the Ukraine conflict, some people say that India is neutral. “But we are not neutral. We are on the side of peace,” said Modi. “All countries should respect international law and the sovereignty of countries.” Disputes should be resolved with “diplomacy and dialogue,” not war, Modi said.

“India will do whatever it can” and supports “all genuine efforts to bring an end to the conflict and ensure enduring peace and stability,” he said.

Modi spoke of efforts to build a more modern and sustainable economy. WSJ concluded that Modi’s overall message was that—from India’s role in global politics to its contributions to the world economy—the country’s time has come. It added he sought to portray India as the natural leader of the global South, in sync with and able to give voice to developing countries’ long-neglected aspirations.

WSJ noted that Modi’s foreign policy is one of multiple alignments unlike the vision of non-alignment India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru advanced in the early years of the Cold War. It added he seeks to advance India’s interests in partnership with a range of global powers, including those in conflict with each other.

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