Democratic principles should guide global governance: PM Modi at Summit for Democracy

US President Joe Biden is hosting the virtual summit for leaders from government, civil society and the private sector to focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies worldwide. The summit will provide a platform to the leaders to announce individual and collective commitments, reforms and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad.
Attendees listen virtually as US President Joe Biden speaks during the Summit for Democracy in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington D.C, on Thursday. (BLOOMBERG PHOTO.)
Attendees listen virtually as US President Joe Biden speaks during the Summit for Democracy in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington D.C, on Thursday. (BLOOMBERG PHOTO.)
Updated on Dec 09, 2021 09:43 PM IST
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The principles of democracy should guide global governance and technology companies should contribute to preserving open and democratic societies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday at the Summit for Democracy hosted by US President Joe Biden.

Modi made the remarks at a virtual leaders’ plenary session that was hosted by Biden and held behind closed doors, according to people familiar with the matter. The prime minister is participating in the two-day event at Biden’s invitation and the plenary session witnessed interventions from leaders of only 12 countries.

Democratic spirit, including respect for rule of law and pluralistic ethos, is ingrained in Indians, and the Indian diaspora carries it too, contributing to the economic well-being and social harmony of their adopted homes, Modi told the session, according to the people cited above.

“The prime minister stressed that principles of democracy should guide global governance, and given technology’s ability to impact democracy positively or negatively, technology companies should contribute to preserving open and democratic societies,” one of the people cited above said.

Modi emphasised the need for democratic countries to deliver on values enshrined in their constitutions, and outlined sensitivity, accountability, participation and reform orientation as the four pillars of Indian democratic governance.

He also recalled India’s Constituent Assembly had held its first session on this same day 75 years ago. He highlighted India’s civilisational ethos as one of the original sources of democracy.

Biden is hosting the virtual summit for leaders from government, civil society and the private sector to focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies worldwide. The summit will provide a platform to the leaders to announce individual and collective commitments, reforms and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad, according to the US state department.

“As the world’s largest democracy, India has commended this innovative initiative. India has always stood ready to share its experiences with fellow democracies,” another person said on condition of anonymity.

A second closed-door leaders’ plenary session was hosted on Thursday by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Official interventions by leaders of numerous countries were also live streamed on the website of the Summit for Democracy.

Modi will deliver India’s national statement on Friday.

In his opening remarks at the summit, Biden highlighted the challenges being faced by democracy worldwide. “Democracy doesn’t happen by accident, we have to renew it with each generation. And this is an urgent matter on all our parts, in my view,” he said.

“Because the data we are seeing is largely pointing in the wrong direction. Freedom House reports that 2020 marked the 15th consecutive year of global freedom in retreat. Another recent report from the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance noted more than half of all democracies have experienced a decline in at least one aspect of their democracy over the last 10 years, including the US,” he said.

These trends are being exacerbated by global challenges that can be addressed by shared efforts, Biden said.

Biden announced the establishment of the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, for which the US will provide $424.4 million in 2020. Under this initiative, the US with likeminded partners to defend and sustain democratic resilience. These efforts will focus on the five areas – supporting free and independent media, fighting corruption, bolstering democratic reformers, advancing technology for democracy, and defending free and fair elections and political processes.

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