Modi condemns civilian deaths in W Asia conflict
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for countries of the Global South to unite and speak in one voice for the greater global good in the face of new challenges emerging from the Israel-Hamas conflict. He condemned civilian deaths and emphasized the need for dialogue and diplomacy. Modi also highlighted the achievements of India's G20 presidency and discussed various initiatives aimed at promoting cooperation and development among developing countries. The Voice of Global South Summit saw the participation of several heads of state and government from the Global South.
The developments in West Asia are throwing up new challenges and the time has come for countries of the Global South to speak in one voice for the greater global good, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday, condemning civilian deaths in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Modi made the remarks in his televised opening address at the second virtual Voice of Global South Summit, a platform created by India to bring together developing countries and to seek their recommendations for the country’s G20 presidency. Modi largely spoke on the achievements of the G20 presidency but referred to the crisis triggered by the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas.
“For global progress, sabka saath, sabka vikas (with everyone and progress for everyone) is necessary but we are all seeing that new challenges are emerging from the incidents in West Asia,” he said, speaking in Hindi.
India had condemned the horrific terror attacks in Israel on October 7 and called for restraint along with dialogue and diplomacy. “We strongly condemn the death of civilians in the conflict between Israel and Hamas,” he said.
Modi said that following his phone conversation with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority, India sent humanitarian assistance for the people of Palestine. “This is the time when countries of the Global South must talk in one voice for the greater global good,” he said.
In keeping with the theme of “one earth, one family, one future” for India’s G20 presidency, all countries should move forward with 5Cs , consultation, cooperation, communication, creativity and capacity building, Modi said.
India had initially backed Israel’s right to defend itself, but it has since adopted a more nuanced approach by calling for observance of international humanitarian law and avoiding of civilian casualties. While the Hamas attacks killed 1,200 people, Israel’s intense bombardment of northern Gaza has killed more than 11,400 people, including some 4,400 children.
Modi reiterated the fallout of the “serious situation in West Asia” in his address at the summit’s concluding session on Friday evening, saying developing countries have a shared interest in global peace and stability. “The big impact of all these crises falls on the Global South too. Therefore, it is necessary that we, together and in one voice, make joint efforts to find solutions to these situations,” he said.
During the concluding session, Modi also spoke about forward movement on several initiatives unveiled at the first Voice of Global South Summit in January. He said Dakshin, a centre of excellence for the Global South that was inaugurated on Friday, will focus on research of developmental issues to find practical solutions to challenges facing developing states.
Modi said India proposes to start a new annual international conference next year that will focus on development priorities of the Global South and related problems. This event will be organised by the Dakshin centre and its partner research centres and think tanks.
Under the Aarogya Maitri initiative, India sent seven tonnes of medicine and supplies to Palestine last month and provided more than three tonnes of medicines to Nepal after it was hit by an earthquake on November 3. India is ready to share its digital health service delivery capabilities with the Global South to also help its partners in capacity building and research under the Global South science and tech initiative.
Under the G20 satellite mission for environment and climate observation, climate and weather data will be shared with the Global South, while the Global South scholarship programme will provide more opportunities to pursue higher education in India. The Global South young diplomats’ forum too will start functioning soon.
Modi described Voice of Global South as a unique platform for the changing world of the 21st century that gives a voice to developing countries for the first time. When India became chair of the G20 last December, it adopted the responsibility of taking forward the issues and concerns of the Global South, he added.
“The result of this was that we had success in getting the agreement of everyone on the issues of the Global South in the New Delhi leaders’ declaration,” Modi said.
He highlighted several achievements of the G20 that are important for the Global South, including the inclusion of the African Union as a full member of the grouping of 20 largest economies, agreement on major reforms of multilateral development banks and the focus on sustainable finance for developing countries.
An action plan to speed up implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) will strengthen poverty reduction programmes in the Global South, and there was agreement on providing climate transition finance and technology to developing countries on easy terms. The launch of the Global Biofuel Alliance was very important for the Global South. “We hope that you will all join this,” Modi said.
India also believes that new technologies should not become a way to increase the divide between North and South, and that there is a great need for responsible use of technology in the era of artificial intelligence (AI). “To take this forward, the AI Global Partnership Summit is being organised in India next month,” he said.
The digital public infrastructure (DPI) framework adopted by the G20 will help with the last mile delivery of essential services and increase inclusivity, while India is creating a DPI repository to share its capabilities with the Global South.
Modi told the concluding session that the participation of some 130 countries in the second Voice of Global South Summit is a message to the world that developing countries want their autonomy and a voice in global governance. It is also a message that the Global South is ready to take on big responsibilities in the context of global issues, he said.
Several heads of state and government joined the two sessions of the virtual summit, including Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.