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UNGA: S Jaishankar begins address with ‘Namaste From Bharat’, pushes for more inclusive reforms

United Nations: “Namaste from Bharat”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar greeted the UN General Assembly as he began his address to the General Debate here Tuesday.

Jaishankar addressed the high-level UNGA session from the iconic green podium of the UNGA hall, beginning his over 17-minute speech with folded hands and a “Namaste from Bharat” salutation.

It may be noted that the use of the word Bharat instead of India is deemed peculiar. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was identified as the leader representing ‘Bharat’ at the G20 Summit he hosted earlier this month. The government used ‘Bharat’, a name used in the Constitution for the country along with India, in several official G20 documents. A dinner invite was sent to G20 delegates and other guests from ‘President of Bharat’, a move which ignited a political row with opposition parties claiming the government is trying to drop ‘India’ from the country’s name. They also linked the move to their decision to name their alliance INDIA.

Meanwhile, Jaishankar during his speech cited the example of India’s initiative at the G20 Summit to admit the African Union as a permanent member and exhorted the United Nations to get inspired “to also make the Security Council contemporary.” Jaishankar said that the African Union’s inclusion in the G20 was a “significant step.”

“It was (also) noteworthy that at India’s initiative, the African Union was admitted as a permanent member of the G20. By doing so, we gave voice to an entire continent that has long been denied its due,” he said.

“This significant step in reform should inspire the United Nations, a much older organization, to also make the Security Council contemporary. Broad representation is a pre-requisite for both effectiveness and credibility,” Jaishakar told the United Nations General Assembly.

“As the United Nations itself symbolises, finding common ground is imperative. To listen to others and to respect their viewpoints is not a weakness; it is the basics of cooperation. Only then can collective efforts on global issues be successful,” he said.

Pointing out how in their deliberations, countries “often advocate the promotion of a rules-based order” and “from time to time, respect for the UN Charter is also invoked,” Jaishankar said, “But for all the talk, it is still a few nations who shape the agenda and seek to define the norms. This cannot go on indefinitely. Nor will it continue to go unchallenged.”

A fair, equitable, and democratic order will surely emerge, once we all put our minds to it. And for a start, that means ensuring that rule makers do not subjugate rule takers,” the Minister said, adding, “After all, rules will work only when they apply equally to all.”

India, the world’s most populous country, has been at the forefront of years-long efforts to reform the Security Council, saying it rightly deserves a seat as a permanent member at the UN high table, which in its current form does not represent geo-political realities of the 21st century.

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