19 March 2001
ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN INDIA, 15 - 18 MARCH
Secretary-General Kofi Annan flew from Bangladesh to India on Thursday,
On arrival in New Delhi, he told the press that while in India, as he had done in Pakistan, he would be urging the Government to renew dialogue on the Kashmir dispute, to reduce tensions and build confidence. "You and Pakistan have too much in shared heritage by way of history, as well as family and cultural ties, not to resolve your differences", he said. "It is time to begin healing the wounds ... ."
He then went directly to United Nations House, where he addressed the assembled staff and had lunch with the representatives of United Nations agencies with programmes in the country.
In the afternoon, he visited the Training Centre of the Rajputana Rifles, an elite army unit, where he was briefed on the training programme for United Nations peacekeeping missions and witnessed a demonstration.
From there, he went to the United Services Institution, headed by a former United Nations Force Commander in Sarajevo, Gen. Satish Nambiar. The Secretary-General addressed a crowded hall, arguing that peacekeeping is more relevant than ever in the new century, as in the United Nations itself (see Press Release SG/SM/7741).
On Thursday evening, the Secretary-General gave a keynote address on globalization and development at a dinner hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). He told the Captains of Indian industry that, "doing the right thing, at the end of the day, is actually good for business".
"Your action and advocacy", he concluded, "can help ensure everyone, rich and poor alike, has the chance to benefit from globalization" (see Press Release SG/SM/7742).
On Friday morning, Mr. and Mrs. Annan began their official visit to India by laying a memorial wreath at Rajghat, the site where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated.
* Reissued for technical reasons.
He then went to Parliament House, where he met Dr. Najima Heptullah, Deputy Chairperson of the Upper House, and current President of the Inter Parliamentary Union, the world organization of parliaments. The Secretary-General emphasized the importance of ratifying treaties and conventions, in the context of globalization and the rule of law. They touched on the subject of Kashmir, and
the Secretary-General repeated his message that what is important is that India and Pakistan renew a dialogue.
The Secretary-General then sat down with Speaker of the Lower House, G.M.C. Balayogi, who was accompanied by about 20 other members of Parliament. The Speaker raised a number of issues, including the Millennium Summit, globalization, United Nations reform, sustainable development in Africa and Security Council reform. The Secretary-General said that, because parliamentarians are in close touch with the people they represent, they can help explain complex issues like globalization and the United Nations efforts to deal with it. He again urged the ratification of covenants and the need for dialogue between India and Pakistan on the dispute over Kashmir. When he said, "You must support dialogue and a peaceful way out", they applauded.
He then had the opportunity to meet with Sonia Gandhi, leader of the opposition Congress Party, and Manmohan Singh, opposition leader of the Upper House, for a wide-ranging discussion which touched on environment, development, Afghanistan, regional security, the Middle East, Iraq and world economic trends. On Kashmir, the Secretary-General reiterated his appeal for India and Pakistan to talk.
At midday the Secretary-General met with the President of India, K.R. Narayanan. The Secretary-General expressed his condolences for the loss of life in the Gujarat earthquake. They discussed the Secretary-General's meeting of the night before with Indian industrialists and also touched on Iraq and Kashmir.
In the early afternoon, the Secretary-General met with Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, initially tête-à -tête for about half an hour. They then joined their delegations for a quick overview of a number of issues. The Foreign Minister thanked the United Nations family for its response to the Gujarat earthquake. They then discussed regional security, the threat of terrorism, the Middle East, Iraq, peacekeeping, nuclear disarmament, free trade and Kashmir, among other topics.
At a press encounter with the Foreign Minister, in response to a question, the Secretary-General clarified his position on Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. "There are Security Council resolutions which are important, but they are not self-enforcing", he said. "The parties have to come together through dialogue to implement whatever agreements are taken, which the Security Council resolutions could bear up."
The Foreign Minister then hosted a luncheon for the Secretary-General and his delegation.
In the late afternoon, the Secretary-General had a private meeting with India's Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee.
During the day on Friday, Nane Annan visited two projects. The first, Jan Madhyam, offers skills training and preparation for adult life to young people with disabilities. With a special emphasis on girls, the centre strives to help its students reach their full potential, as well as educates society about the value of the specially abled. In the city of Delhi alone, there are 450,000 handicapped
persons. Mrs. Annan also visited the UNDP-supported Town Enrichment Action Movement (TEAM) in Gurgaon, a suburb of Delhi. The project provides an environment for the enrolment of all children under age 14, many of whom have had little schooling because they have been child labourers. The TEAM is a bridge school that enables students to reach their age level of education and then join a regular school.
The Secretary-General concluded his programme for the day by attending a reception hosted by the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Brenda McSweeney. He toured a number of exhibits illustrating the work of the United Nations in India, and he administered an oral polio vaccination to three children in front of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) exhibit.
Before leaving New Delhi on Saturday morning, 17 March, the Secretary-General was visited by former South African President Nelson Mandela, who was in town to receive the Gandhi Peace Award 2000. Their talks, which lasted about half an hour, focused almost exclusively on the Burundi peace process, for which Mr. Mandela is Facilitator.
The Secretary-General then flew to Hyderabad in southern India, a home to India’s blossoming high-tech industry.
He met with the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chanbrababu Naidu, before attending a luncheon meeting with industry leaders. There he was briefed on the explosive economic growth of the State of Andhra Pradesh, of which Hyderabad is the capital, thanks to a dynamic information technology sector. The Secretary-General addressed the group, calling Hyderabad “one of the success stories of the digital revolution”. He expressed concern over the digital divide that separates information haves from have-nots, and that risks excluding the world’s poor from the knowledge-based economy.
“You must be very proud of what you accomplished here”, he said, “and how you are helping so many people in India and beyond to transform their lives” (see Press Release SG/SM/7743).
He later travelled to a developing part of town to visit Hightech City, a modern office complex that houses offices of a dozen of the world’s leading information technology companies. He visited a number of display booths in the lobby.
He then went to Hyderabad’s Public Gardens, where women’s self-help groups had their handicrafts on display. He and his wife, Nane, bought a number of items before they were escorted on to a stage before some 6,000 women who were members of the self-help movement. He and Nane both addressed the women, praising their initiative and their contribution to Andhra Pradesh’s economic boom.
At Hyderabad airport, before leaving, the Secretary-General addressed the press. His visit with the self-help groups, he said, “gave me hope that women in this State, I think within time, will become full partners, and bring their ingenuity and energy to bear on the development efforts in this society”.
“In fact, as I drove away”, he added, “I had the feeling that if I come back in 20, 25 years, I shouldn’t be surprised if the Chief Minister is a woman.”
The Secretary-General returned to New York via London on Sunday, 18 March.