||Responses posted on
||Q: What is the
government doing to prevent AIDS from spreading in India? (Karina,
A: HIV/AIDS is today not only a grave global challenge. It is equally
a national concern, one that demands urgent and effective response.
Such response has to be collective and well-coordinated and calls
for a solid partnership between all sections of society including
the political establishment. In recent years there has been a rising
awareness as well as action among elected representatives in India
on the issue of HIV/AIDS. The formation of a Parliamentary Forum on
AIDS in India is a proof of this.
Globally there were over forty million men, women and children infected
with HIV / AIDS, as of 2001. The newly infected adults and children
across Asia and Pacific have taken the total number of people living
with HIV / AIDS in this region to over 7 million. India has over 4
million men, women and children living with the virus. In Andhra Pradesh,
Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur and Nagaland, HIV prevalence
has reached over 1 percent among women attending antenatal clinics.
The heightened incidence of this problem has brought home the need
for an accelerated and comprehensive prevention program. The strong
political support across the board for meeting the challenges posed
by HIV/AIDS has been a major help. In 1992, the National AIDS Control
Organization was set up as an autonomous structure within the Ministry
of Health & Family Welfare to develop policies and programs to
promote focused public action. In the past five years, several national
and international conferences on HIV/AIDS have been held in India,
highlighting different facets of the challenge and the necessary responses
to them. The formation of the Parliamentary Forum on AIDS is one of
the constructive outcomes of these deliberations.
In India, public health issues are only slowly coming into the national
political agenda. Even today other entrenched challenges in the health
sector – such as diseases due to malnutrition, lack of clean
drinking water, poor sanitation conditions and environmental degradation
attract inadequate attention. The growing Parliamentary activism on
HIV/AIDS is thus a major development. In India, leadership has indeed
been provided by medical professionals, administrators, captains of
business, popular artists, NGOs and even religious leaders. Some Chief
Ministers have shown exemplary initiative. However, we need to carry
this message from national and state levels to district and village
levels through the active involvement of all concerned.
There is need for greater openness regarding HIV/AIDS in India. This
is the only way to succeed in reversing the trend of the epidemic.
We need also to develop an absence of prejudice towards affected persons.
Education is crucial to the success of the struggle against this epidemic.
Education empowers young people with the knowledge they need to protect
themselves and their communities. Education alone can combat the problem
of stigma and discrimination.
Q: These days freshwater is a big issue around
the world and some countries, like India, have a lack of freshwater.
How is India trying to solve this problem? (Esther, 15, South
Korea) How has India improved the problem?
(Choi, 15, South Korea) What do you think are
the main factors causing freshwater problems? (Dooree, 15,
South Korea) How can we increase the amount
of freshwater in the world? (Nabil, 15, South Korea)
A: More than one person in three suffers hardship and indignity on
account of problems relating to water. It is likely that more than
half of mankind will be threatened by water stress over the next fifty
years. Yet the dream of water for all can be realized provided there
is sufficient commitment and coordination among the various countries
of the world not only between the countries of the North and South
but also between town and countryside, communities, public services,
civil society, business and multilateral organizations. All too often
the subject becomes complicated by controversies resulting from the
interstate sharing of water resources.
In India, water is a state responsibility, that is, the use and control
of water resources fall within the purview of the provincial governments.
The central government has the responsibility for the development,
conservation, and management of water as a national resource, that
is, for setting the general policy on its development and for technical
assistance to states on irrigation, ground water, flood control sea
erosion problems dam safety, navigation etc. It also oversees the
regulation and development of inter-state rivers. Urban water supply
is the responsibility of public health department and rural “panchayats”
take care of rural water supply. The National Water policy in India
has assigned the highest priority to drinking water. While in 1981
a ten-year program was launched to bring 100% coverage to urban and
rural areas, this was not found feasible and the project was revised
to provide coverage of 90% for urban and 85 % for rural areas. This
target is still short of realization. With 80 to 90 per cent precipitation
accruing during the monsoon only the imperative of storing ground
water for domestic use cannot be overemphasized. India’s average
annual precipitation volume is around 4000 cu. kms. (cubic kilometres).
Average annual potential flow in rivers is 1869 cu.kms. Per capita
availability in 1997 was 1967 cu.kms. Estimated utilizable water resources
is 1122 cu.kms which includes 690 cu.kms of surface water was and
432 cu.kms of ground water.
my name is Kosoko. For a class project I am analyzing child labour
in India. I was hoping you could give me some helpful clues about
how child labour affects the children in India on a global and national
level. Thank you. (Kosoko, 13, USA)
A: India is home to the world’s largest population of children.
We have followed a proactive policy in the matter of elimination of
child labour with clear constitutional and statutory provisions combined
with a range of development measures. While the Indian Constitution
was recently amended (93rd Amendment) to make education for all children
in the age group 6-14 years a Fundamental Right, the challenge is
to make this a reality on the ground. The strategy of the Government
of India has been to eliminate child labour sequentially beginning
with the most hazardous forms and subsequently moving towards the
less hazardous forms. Approximately US$ 50 million was set aside for
this purpose in the last plan period 1997-2002. During the current
Plan this allocation has been doubled.
It is globally recognized that poverty and child labour are closely
interlinked. The large population size along with slow demographic
change in the developing countries is also making the problem formidable.
Child labour can be tackled only if the problem of elimination of
poverty is combined with a sustained effort at providing primary education
to the children. The Government of India had detailed its strategy
to the United Nations General Assembly Session on Children held in
Child Labor is a complex and multi-dimensional socio-economic problem.
It requires the involvement of all sections of society. Without their
involvement India will not be able to achieve the target of elimination
of child labor by 2007. Elementary education is a fundamental right
in India today and it is expected that this tool of education will
help in the elimination of child labor in India. Simultaneously, concerted
efforts will have to be made towards elimination of poverty in India
which is the root cause of this problem. There are today ten million
children working as child labor in the country. We will have to draw
a detailed account of all the ten million children and to ensure that
they and their families are assisted by various programs by the Government
of India under several ministries in a more focused and meaningful
way. We will also have to conduct a kind of social audit to measure
our speed and impact at the ground level. National and international
organization should give due recognition to agencies working in India
that have done commendable work for the cause of elimination of child
During the Tenth Five Year Plan (2003 – 2007) a provision has
been made for conducting two surveys on child labor. The new strategy
proposed to be adopted during the Tenth Plan for the elimination of
child labor is as follows:
As a sequel to multi-pronged integrated approach, National Child Labor
Projects have been set up in 100 child labour endemic districts spread
over 13 states in the country under which children withdrawn from
hazardous work are rehabilitated through special bridging schools
with provisions of non-formal/formal education, vocational training,
stipend, nutrition and health check-up etc. 170,000 children through
4002 special schools have so far been mainstreamed into formal educational
system. Various governmental departments and institutions have played
an important role in synergizing the activities of schemes run by
them with the NCLPs.
- Policy and programs for elimination of child labor would be
continued in a more focused, integrated and convergent manner.
- The National Child Labour Projects (NCLPs) would be expanded
to cover 150 child labor endemic districts.
- Child Labor efforts would be linked with the scheme of Sarva
Shiksha Abhiyan (Education For All) of the Ministry of Human Resource
Development to attempt to ensure that children in the age group
of 5-8 years get directly linked to schools and the older children
are mainstreamed to the formal education system through the rehabilitation
centers of NCLPs.
- Efforts will be made to strengthen the formal education mechanism
in the child labor endemic areas in the country both in terms
of quality and numbers in such a manner as to provide an attractive
schooling system to the child labor force and its parents so that
motivational levels of both the parents and such children are
high and sending these children to school becomes an attractive
- It is also proposed to engage master vocational trainer for
each NCLP for training of vocational teachers of the NCLP schools
in order to lay emphasis on vocational training.
- Convergence with ongoing schemes of the Department of Education,
Rural Development, Health and Women & Child Development would
be critical for the ultimate attainment of the objective of elimination
of child labor in a time bound manner.
- A provision to attach a Medical Doctor for every 20 schools
to take care of the primary health needs of the children has also
Nambiar, what was India’s position on Iraq before the U.S.-led
war against Iraq? (David, 15, USA) Dear
Ambassador Nambiar, As an American citizen, the current hostilities
with Iraq have had a large affect on my country. What formal position
does the Indian government take on the war in Iraq and how does
the majority of the Indian population feel about this military action?
As well, what role do you think India will play in rebuilding Iraq?
(Drew, 13, USA)
A: India’s position before the US-led war against Iraq:
India has consistently taken the position that Iraq should implement
the resolutions of the Security Council which called upon that country
to cooperate fully with the UN in the activities of UNMOVIC to uncover
and destroy all weapons of mass destruction that it may possess.
While India did support and abide by the sanctions that had been
imposed upon Iraq we had made it clear that the enormous suffering
this had caused to the Iraqi people should be addressed and alleviated
to the maximum extent through a modification of the sanctions process.
Also we were in favor of a more people-friendly implementation of
the Oil-for-Food programme covering more than just essential foodstuffs.
India has had traditional ties with Iraq over the decades and had
relatively good relations with Saddam Hussein until the period when
sanctions were imposed after the Gulf War. In respect to the US
call for more stringent action against Iraq, including armed action
to topple the Saddam regime, the Indian view was that whatever action
was needed should be taken through the United Nations. We had stressed
the need to avoid giving the issue any religious or communal dimension.
India is home to the second largest population of Muslims in the
world after Indonesia and as such we were conscious of the impact
unilateral action might have on Islamic sentiment around the world.
There are, additionally, more than 3 and a half million Indians
working in the Gulf. The impact of political tension in the region
upon their safety was an additional consideration.
When the US launched its attack on Iraq, the Parliament of India
deplored the attack. We had reiterated that enforcement action should
have been taken under the aegis of the United Nations. We drew attention
to the increased suffering this would cause to the people of Iraq.
The majority of the people of India would seem to share this view.
After the US forces had successfully entered Baghdad and pronounced
an end to the military operation, India had stressed the need for
the international community to work for an early end to the conflict
and the restoration of normalcy in the country. We had underlined
our willingness to contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq and
announced humanitarian assistance which included rebuilding a hospital
near Najaf with Jordan as well as meeting emergency food requirements
of the people. Much of the supplies to Iraq under the Oil for Food
Programme which had remained unimplemented due to the disruption
of the war were resumed. India also expressed its willingness to
participate in the Madrid Conference on October 2003 and to play
a meaningful role in the reconstruction of Iraq. An amount of approximately
US$ 25 million was pledged for this purpose. India has experience in
working with the Iraqi people and there is an enormous fund of goodwill
for India among the people there. This is also the reason why we
would not like to be seen as part of any “occupation force”
Q: I’ve read in the newspapers in Sweden
about the U.S. wanting to apply the “Indian” model of
democratization in Iraq. What are the main components of the Indian
model of democratization? Why do you think the US has chosen to
use the Indian model? (Jani, 28, Sweden)
A: Applying an Indian model of democracy to Iraq? There is no single
model of democracy that can be imposed upon any country. Indian
democracy has evolved over more than half a century and possesses
its own unique characteristics that cannot be superimposed on any
other society just as Swedish democracy cannot. What is perhaps
being implied is that attempts should be made to provide within
the new institutional system in Iraq the kind of provisions India
has in its political system to preserve and promote a secular, multi-communal,
pluralistic, tolerant and modernizing kind of society. There may
be elements or experiences of India’s management of its Centre-State
relationship that may be adaptable to Iraq. The constitution of
India guarantees to every citizen and person basic political rights
and freedoms which are justifiable in the Indian courts of law.
Also our strong human rights institutions and free and independent
press have gained considerable credibility around the world. These
elements of India’s political culture could constitute a model
for emulation but it must be clearly understood that each nation
must have or be enabled to have the space to create and evolve its
own political culture.
Q: Do you think America should go out of Iraq immediately?
(Mohamed, 19, Kuwait)
A: At the present juncture it is not easy to answer that question.
While the withdrawal of US and other occupation forces alone can
bring normalcy to Iraq, an immediate withdrawal without arrangements
for the stabilization of the country is likely to result in chaos
and anarchy which could have serious effects on peace and security
in the entire region. This will not be in anybody’s interest.
For this reason, whatever our views on the political wisdom of the
US military invasion of Iraq, we must examine what is the best way
to bring stability into that country while ensuring the earliest
possible time frame for restoration of sovereignty to the Iraqi
people and for foreign forces to withdraw.
Q: What do you think about the position that
Germany and France took towards the war on Iraq? (Meshari,
A: The French and German positions on Iraq were dictated by their
own evaluation of the situation from their specific national perspective.
To the extent that these positions involved an emphasis on the continuing
role of the UN in establishing whether Iraq was in breach of the
UN resolutions in respect to the possession of weapons of mass destruction
and the need for greater consensus in the multilateral process on
enforcement action in Iraq, this differed dramatically from the
US position. In other respects there has not been very much of a
difference in the western perspective of how to tackle the situation
Q: Are you planning to send humanitarian help to Iraq? (Nadia,
A: Yes. Indian had announced its intention to provide humanitarian
assistance to Iraq at a very early stage. Indeed India had been
in the forefront of activities to help in the provision of food
and other supplies to Iraq under the Oil-for-Food programme. After
the entry of US troops in Iraq, India announced the setting up of
a hospital near Najaf along with Jordan. We also announced our willingness
to send urgent food and medical supplies. At the latest Madrid Conference
India announced a contribution of US$ 25 million towards the rehabilitation
of the country.
Q: We are doing Model United Nations and
one of the issues we have is about North Korea and its current issues
with the nuclear plant. I would like to know what you think about
the issues in North Korea as an ambassador. It would help me see
how an ambassador sees this kind of issue. What would you say in
a UN meeting? (Mina, 15, South Korea)
A: India played an important role under the UN flag during the Korean
war in the fifties. Though India has had a resident mission in Pyongyang
since the seventies, the nature of our contacts with that country
has been varied. The DPRK is a member of the nonaligned movement.
In the context of the economic difficulties faced by Pyongyang in
2002, India donated wheat and rice, blankets and polyethylene sheets
for agricultural use.
Officials in India have been disturbed by reports of clandestine
exchanges between the DPRK and Pakistan involving supply of enriched
uranium by one party and missile technology by the other. More than
a year ago, our authorities had detained a North Korean vessel at
an Indian port when it was discovered during routine checking that
it was carrying contraband supplies of equipment and components
for missiles from the DPRK while the goods were declared to be something
altogether different. The matter was taken up with the DPRK authorities
and the response received was not satisfactory. We view the recent
actions of the DPRK on nuclear testing and missile proliferation
in this light. India is of the view that while seeking unequivocal
commitments from the DPRK to desist from following the above path,
it is necessary to address the security concerns of that country
and to ensure that these are met through appropriate guarantees.
India supports the recent actions of the five powers including the
US in pursuing a multilateral dialogue process with North Korea
in order to achieve a resolution of this issue. While stating the
above we continue to stick to our principled position on the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty which we consider flawed inasmuch as it
is unequal and discriminatory and does not contain a balance of
obligations and responsibilities on the part of the nuclear weapon
Q: What are your viewpoints on the country
of Pakistan and why are there such bitter relations between India
and Pakistan? (Steven, 14, USA) Why
are they so close to armed conflict? (Greg, 22, Japan) What
do you think has to be done before India and Pakistan will be on
the road to a peaceful harmonious future? (Judith, 17, USA)
What steps should India take to create peace
with Pakistan? (Peter, 13, USA)Do
you think the India-Pakistan relationship will be good again soon?
What is the main reason that Pakistan and India do not come to the
negotiation table? (Liaqat, 23, Pakistan)
A: The partition of the Indian subcontinent was essentially the
work of the British colonial authorities prior to their departure.
True, inter-communal tensions or rivalry did exist in the past.
But these tensions were resolved within a larger political and social
context that stressed unity and coexistence. It is arguable also
that faced with the inevitability of Indian independence and of
the division of the subcontinent, the UK began to consider how this
would impact on the post-war world particularly in the context of
the post-war division of the world into rival military blocs. Indian
leaders had, even before independence spoken in favor of a foreign
policy of “positive neutrality,” which later got to
be described as non-alignment. In contrast to India, the West hoped
the new state of Pakistan would be aligned to the West. This happened
as Pakistan joined the Baghdad Pact. This accounted for the biased
approach of the Western powers against India on many issues during
the fifties. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was a strong advocate
of Afro-Asian resurgence and his strong advocacy against apartheid
and for the de colonization of Africa and Asia placed him at odds
with the erstwhile colonial powers.
Over the years India’s relations with Pakistan have remained
unstable due to a variety of reasons. While the main purported factor
in this continued tense relationship has been the differences over
Jammu and Kashmir, the truth is that, over the years, whatever the
diplomatic atmospherics between the two countries, the political
establishment in Pakistan especially the Pak army has cultivated
an attitude of compulsive hostility which was consciously embedded
in the very self image of the army and other elements of the bureaucratic
and political circles. This has resulted in no less than four wars
between the two countries with Pakistan attempting, in each of these
wars, to try to seize the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir by force
of arms. In each of these instances it proved unsuccessful. But
that has not prevented Pakistan from making fresh efforts every
few years. Even today though one-seventh the size of India with
a fifth of our population, Pakistan still speaks of maintaining
military parity with India. On our part we are conscious that we
have a political and security environment which requires us to maintain
our preparedness taking into consideration the larger challenges
in the region covering all our neighbors as well as the compulsions
of our very large coastline.
To transform India Pakistan relations would require addressing the
above reality. I believe it would require Pakistan to reconfigure
the very self-image of its political establishment. It is not merely
a question of redefining the attitude of Pakistan towards India
in terms of the two-nation theory itself. Pakistan has long said
that India has not reconciled itself to the existence of Pakistan.
The fact is that Pakistan will have to be reconciled to the fact
of a secular united and democratic India. This it is unwilling to
do. It would rather have an extremist Hindu revivalist India ready
to splinter itself over questions of communal, caste, linguistic
and social differences. India cannot afford to allow this to happen.
Our commitment to democracy, secularism and an open society is well
established. The evolution of our institutions and the empowerment
of the various sections of our people are part of a colossal socio-political
project which is developing continuously and has produced its own
dynamic. Though this has sometimes hampered our economic growth,
there are signs of a major thrust in this direction too. Undeniably,
there are some elements within the Indian political spectrum that
mirror the Pakistani establishment and nourish similar hostility
towards that country. However, the nature of the evolution of Indian
politics, its diversity and variegated quality and our broader involvements
in economic growth, social empowerment and cultural pluralism have
prevented our being overwhelmed by any such animosity.
As in the case of India-China relations in recent years, where both
sides were able to agree to work for the all round development of
relations across a wide spectrum of issues without making improvement
of ties contingent upon the satisfaction of expectations upon a
single “core issue,” India and Pakistan should set in
motion a composite dialogue covering a range of issues. Both sides
must work for the building up of people to people contacts, normalizing
trade relations, cultural and social contacts and the development
of better understanding between them through greater interaction
between the media. Such contact will help in building up vested
interests in good relations between the two countries among their
peoples. Meanwhile, on the question of Jammu and Kashmir, cross-border
terrorism must stop. While there is unlikely to be any early, magic
solution of the question, both sides could work for a diffusion
of the situation, building of greater confidence among the population
of Jammu and Kashmir, contacts between the people on both sides
of the Line of Control (LoC), greater economic exchanges etc. The
recent policies of the Government of India in consultation with
the newly elected state government of Jammu and Kashmir and in respect
of political dialogue with a broad range of political groups within
the state as well as the economic measures introduced by both governments
with regard to the developmental needs of Jammu and Kashmir are
also designed to contribute to this process.
With regard to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
(SAARC), unless a clear modus vivendi is worked out between India
and Pakistan, SAARC cannot expect to take off. As long as relations
between these two neighbors remain tense, the temptation on the
part of others to leverage these tensions for bilateral advantage
against India will continue. It should be clear to Pakistan as well
as our other neighbors that the process of improvement of relations
should be built on a healthy bilateral and sub regional basis. It
should be clearly understood that a tactic of ganging up would be
unproductive. The tendency to leverage India’s difficulties
with other countries to score polemical points will have to be avoided.
The reality is that each member of SAARC has a border only with
India and not with any other SAARC country. Given its size, India
inevitably has a number of unresolved issues with each. These will
have to be addressed and solved bilaterally through a policy of
give and take. At the same time, India recognizes the need to take
a broader and more generous outlook towards the region. This outlook
was typified in the so-called Gujral Doctrine which envisaged the
granting of unreciprocal preferences to our smaller neighbors.
Q: Dear Ambassador Vijay Kunhianandan Nambiar,
I am a student in Chattahoochee High School. I am in the 10th standard.
I live in Atlanta, Georgia but I was born in India. I wanted to
know your opinion on the Jammu and Kashmir issue. I want to know
what you are doing and planning to do over the issue. What do you
think should happen to Jammu and Kashmir? Should we advance and
gain more position over Jammu and Kashmir? OR should we try to sign
a neutrality act to split Jammu and Kashmir equally? (Aditya,
A: I have given a detailed response to Jammu and Kashmir above.
There are a number of books which provide a detailed historical
background of the case from the Indian standpoint. (Two recent books
are “War and Diplomacy in Kashmir 1947-48” by C Dasgupta;
Sage Publications 2002 and “Conflict Unending” by Sumit
Ganguly; Columbia University Press 2001.)
To resolve the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, India needs first to
tackle the issue with the state government of Jammu and Kashmir
and to discuss a broad political package with the democratically
elected state government as well as the different political groupings
within the state. The Government of India is also prepared to discuss
the issue with Pakistan within the context of a composite dialogue
between the two countries on the basis of the Simla and Lahore Agreements.
This can only happen after Pakistan takes credible and sincere measures
to stop cross border terrorism against India.
You must be quite aware that in October 1947, the then Maharaja
of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir signed an Instrument of
Accession as a result of which the State of Jammu and Kashmir acceded
to India. Today the state of Jammu and Kashmir is an inalienable
part of India. As such there is no question of “splitting
Jammu and Kashmir equally.”
Q: We are having a Model United Nations conference
at my school. I was wondering if you could tell me if India is for
or against the self-determination of the Tibetan people. Thank you
very much. (Stefi Staszak, 13, Mexico)
A: India is bound to Tibet by deep ties of history, culture and
religion. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is highly revered in India
as a religious and spiritual figure of extraordinary standing around
the world. Since 1959 when he was provided asylum by the Government
of India, His Holiness has lived in India as an honored guest. India
has also welcomed and provided sanctuary to a large number of Tibetan
refugees within India.
At the same time, India recognizes the reality of China’s
relationship with Tibet. In 1954 India and China formalized a border
trade agreement which recognized Tibet as a region of China. Since
that time, India has on several occasions recognized Tibet as an
autonomous region of China. During the latest visit paid by the
Prime Minister of India to China in June 2003, the Indian side stated
that it “recognizes that the Tibet Autonomous Region is part
of the territory of the People’s Republic of China and reiterates
that it does not allow Tibetans to engage in anti-China political
activities in India.” As such we believe it is for His Holiness
the Dalai Lama and his people to negotiate details of Tibet’s
political relationship with China peacefully through direct talks
Q: Dear Ambassador Nambiar, What is your
response to what is happening in the Aceh province of Indonesia.
If you were a student like me, what could you do to help improve
the situation? I would LOVE to hear from you. Sincerely, Momo
(Momo, 13, Indonesia)
A: India believes that the political differences in Aceh province
of Indonesia should be resolved by Indonesia with the Achenese people
peacefully and without outside interference. In the current international
context, it is important not to allow such problems to get aggravated
by the intrusive attention of outside powers. At the same time,
care should be taken not to allow the problems to fester and to
assume proportions where they would provide a breeding ground for
extremist and terrorist forces.
Q: How will India help develop Afghanistan?
Do you think Indian companies will invest in Afghanistan?
(Patrick, 12, USA)
India is helping Afghanistan. India has provided around US$ 250
million of assistance in grant and commercial credit to that country
for its reconstruction over the past two years. During bilateral
meetings held at various levels including at the summit level between
the leaders of India and Afghanistan, bilateral cooperation aimed
at reconstruction and rehabilitation in post conflict has been discussed
and the status of existing cooperation -including in the field of
education, health, and training facilities- assessed. These include
the following new areas:
- Rebuilding of Educational infrastructure, including six schools,
polytechnics and supply of teaching aids, to Afghanistan.
- Rehabilitation of some of the existing educational institutions
- Rebuilding of Health Infrastructure, including construction
of six medical care centers, and mobile medical facilities in
- Rehabilitation of some of the existing medical facilities in
- Setting up of computer training and maintenance facilities
- Computer hardware and software support to various Afghan Government
- Provide 50 buses and other vehicles and material support as
identified by the Afghan Interim Administration for rebuilding
appropriate public transport facilities in Kabul and other areas.
- Rehabilitation of existing Industrial Park in Kabul and construction
of new Industrial Park as per Afghan priorities. Energy
- A composite Indian team to go to Afghanistan to undertake feasibility
studies of various projects related to water and power sectors.
- To examine various avenues of specific cooperation in the field
of non-renewable energy resources.
- To examine projects for cooperation specifically with regard
to development of rural areas in Afghanistan
- To impart training to Government officials from various Afghan
Ministries at various institutions in India related to capacity
building and human resources development in different sectors.
Q: What do you think about future relations
between India and Israel? (Ali, 21, Kuwait)
A: India has had a Jewish population from almost before the Christian
era. Jews in India were never persecuted. The Government of India
recognized Israel on 17 September 1950. After India’s recognition,
the Jewish Agency established an office in Mumbai which was soon
converted into a Consulate. Governmental contacts, though sparse,
continued in the fifties and early sixties though political relations
deteriorated with the worsening of the Arab-Israeli dispute after
the 1967 war. India welcomed Camp David accords and stated that
“all states in the region, including Israel, should have the
right to exist in peace within secure boundaries.”
Since the establishment of Embassies in New Delhi and Tel Aviv in
1992, a large number of ministerial visits have taken place. President
Ezer Weizman visited India in Dec.‘96 - Jan.’97. Bilateral
trade has grown jumping to US$ 994 million in 1999, a five-fold
increase since 1992. The first Indian Trade Exhibition
in Israel was held in May 2000 which contributed to an increase
in Indian exports to Israel. At the governmental level, a number
of agreements were signed to provide the legal framework for trade
and economic cooperation. The State Bank of India built correspondent
banking relations with eight major Israeli banks and India invited
Israeli banks to open branches in India. A joint insurance agreement
was signed. Substantial bilateral cooperation developed in agriculture,
technology transfer, construction sector and in industrial R&D.
Approximately 170 collaboration agreements between Indian and Israeli
companies have been signed in areas such as drip irrigation, greenhouse
technology, floriculture and horticulture. A bilateral Science &
Technology cooperation agreement was signed in May 1993 when Foreign
Minister Shimon Peres visited India. Under this mechanism a large
number of research projects were carried out in fields such as advanced
materials, electro-optics, biotechnology, genetics etc. An Agreement
on cooperation in Tourism was signed in 1993 as well as a Cultural
Agreement. An Air Services Agreement was concluded in 1994. The
number of Israeli tourists visiting India has increased steadily.
Both countries also have ongoing co-operation in the defense field.
There are approximately 45,000 Jews of Indian origin in Israel today.
Israeli Minister Ariel Sharon visited India early September 2003.
There are good prospects of stable relations between India and Israel.
While saying this it must be stressed that India has continued to
pursue a principled position on the Israel-Palestine issue and strongly
supports the two-state solution of the issue as well as the efforts
of the Quartet.
Q: Ambassador Nambiar, it is an honor to
communicate with the UN through you. We are doing research in Universal
History about the Arab-Israeli conflict and from all the research
done until now it seems both sides have their reasons. The conflict
continues and many innocent people from both sides keep dying. Why
doesn’t the UN intervene in a definitive way to reach a solution?
Can we expect to obtain peace in the short term? (Gabriela,
13, Venezuela) Is India playing an effective
role in the Middle East peace process? What is that role?
(Bashayer, 19, Kuwait)
A: Despite the efforts of the international community in pushing
Israel and Palestine toward the path of a negotiated settlement
of the issue, the main reason why the conflict continues in the
Middle East is because there has not been sustained or consistent
pressure on the part of the major power upon each side at critical
junctures. Even the efforts of the Quartet have not been sustained
at critical moments and this has led to the adoption of extreme
positions which have aggravated the situation on the ground. More
sustained US pressure on Israel is needed. At the same time the
Palestinians need also to exert greater control over the activities
of extremist elements. India has supported the efforts of the international
community especially in the UN. Though not a member, India has participated
in the consideration of this issue in the UN Security Council. We
are active members in the concerned Committees of the UN General
Assembly and have worked for a balanced and purposive consideration
of the question there.
Q: How do you view India-China relations?
(Nada, 30, Kuwait)
A: India and China are two of the world’s oldest civilizations
with contacts spreading over thousands of years. Our contact has
generally been peaceful and served to further understanding between
our peoples. The Silk Route connected us through commerce, but also
facilitated the flow of ideas and thinking on a range of intellectual,
religious, spiritual and cultural issues. The message of the Buddha
was transmitted to China from India, Our maritime trade links provided
mutual contact and also created a confluence of cultures in South-East
Asia. During the colonial era there was mutual sympathy and support
and during the early years of our independence a strong emotional
identification among our peoples. The Cold War and mutual differences
on the boundary question led to estrangement and a brief war in
1962. China’s relations with Pakistan since the sixties has
been the subject of some concern especially in the military, nuclear
and missile technology exchanges. However, India and China have
emerged from this period of mistrust and recovered a modicum of
mutual understanding. Since 1988 we have succeeded in building a
broad base for cooperation in a wide range of fields.
With regard to the future, both India and China recognize that:
- We are the two most populous countries of the world,
- We have the two fastest growing economies in the world. In
any economic forum in the world these days, the focus is on India
- Both have continent-sized markets, with advantages of economies
- We also have problems of unequal development, income disparities,
and a potential digital divide. Exchange of developmental experiences
can prove useful.
- We are both at the forefront of developing and applying technologies
to drive the Knowledge Economy.
- India and China possess a balance of strengths. India’s
strengths in Information Technology, software engineering, management
and financial services are well matched by the Chinese expertise
in hardware, construction and industry.
- In the broader context of the dialogue of developing countries,
India and China have congruent positions. If we act in concert,
it would be difficult for the world to ignore us.
- Both countries have frequently expressed their commitment to
developing a multi-polar world order. In the current international
situation, there is a role each can play to restore the authority
of international organizations.
Bilaterally we have been taking steps to increase mutual trust and
understanding, through greater interaction at many levels. Our cooperation
has expanded and diversified. Bilateral trade has grown to around
US$ 5 billion dollars. Indian business and industry have overcome
their initial cultural and commercial apprehensions of Chinese business
and are strengthening their linkages. Indian investment in China,
currently around US$ 65 million, is growing.
The bilateral dialogue today encompasses international issues such
as terrorism, security, environment and sustainable development.
We have an increasing commonality of interests within the World
Trade Organization and overlapping concerns on globalization. Our
coordination and collaboration in various multilateral institutions
is expanding into newer and newer areas.
As two large developing countries at roughly the same stage of development,
sharing the same neighborhood, pursuing similar growth trajectories,
with comparable economic priorities and similar political ambitions,
it is inevitable that comparisons will be made between India and
China. There will also be an unavoidable element of competition
in some areas between us.
But we need to distinguish between healthy competition and divisive
rivalry. As has been underlined at the highest levels on both sides,
there is no objective reason for discord between India and China.
Neither of us is a threat to the other. The developing world in
general and our two countries, in particular, can benefit by absorbing
the lessons from our mutual experiences. This is the principal foundation
of the future partnership between India and China. We cannot wish
away our differences. We must address them realistically. Even here
we have made some good progress. By adhering to the Five Principles
of Peaceful Coexistence and showing sensitivity to each others core
concerns we are convinced that we shall be able to resolve even
Q: What is the relationship between Kuwait
and India? Is the relationship good? (Shaima, 20, Kuwait)
A: India and Kuwait enjoy traditional friendly relations. Our geographical
proximity, historical trade links, cultural affinities and the presence
of a large number of Indian expatriates serve to sustain and nurture
the longstanding relationship. India is a natural trading partner
and a destination for higher learning. Until 1961, the Indian rupee
was legal tender in Kuwait.
We have no bilateral problems. Both are members of NAM (Non-Aligned
Movement) and share common perceptions on various regional and international
issues and cooperate in regional and international fora. On India-Pakistan
issues, Kuwait has favored the solution of these problems through
bilateral discussions within the framework of agreements signed
between the two Governments. Kuwait has appreciated India’s
principled stand on Arab-Israeli issues.
The two countries cooperate in the field of Science and Technology.
A number of Indian scientists and researchers work with the Kuwait
Institute of Scientific Research and other organizations under a
protocol governing such cooperation. A joint committee has identified
various areas for bilateral technical cooperation such as oil refining
industry, energy optimization in refining and refrigeration industries
etc. Cultural ties are also good and there are growing exchanges
in this field. There are around 280,000 Indians working in Kuwait
whose presence in itself, plays a positive role in fostering India-Kuwait
relations. Amongst them are old established families of Indian businessmen
who have flourishing trade relations with Kuwait.
Q: Does India support Fidel Castro’s
regime in Cuba? (Ivan, 16, Spain)
A: India supports the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba. We have diplomatic
relations with Cuba and have an Ambassador there. President Fidel
Castro is highly respected in India and has visited India. Indian
leaders have also visited Havana. India and Cuba have developed
strong political and economic ties and are both active members of
the Non-Aligned Movement. Both at the UN and in the Non-Aligned
Movement we cooperate closely on a number of issues.
Being an Ambassador
Q: Hi, I
really respect your position and it is my dream to work for the
UN. How did you achieve your position and what events helped you
get there? (Amanda, 14, USA) (Eustaquia, 14, Spain) Do
you like your job? (Gloria, 14, Spain)
A: I have been in the Indian Foreign Service and have spent 37
years acquiring experience and serving in various capacities connected
both with bilateral relations as well as multilateral relations
concerning India. In the course of my assignments in various countries
spanning different regions and different functional specializations,
I have been able to get a very valuable insight into the nuances
of the priorities and concerns of the different countries of the
world. This has also required an open mind, a strong sense of perspective
of India’s historical and current interests and an ability
to articulate the views of India effectively at different forums.
I have obtained immense satisfaction in my work both because of
its variety, challenge and the opportunity it has given me to get
exposed to different cultural and political viewpoints. It has been
an immense education for me throughout my professional life.
Q: It has been my dream to participate in
the UN for quite some time now. Do you have any advice that may
help me to get to my dream? Keep in mind that I am still a high
school student. (Carolyn, 16, USA) Hi,
could you tell me how one can best prepare oneself to become an
ambassador beginning from high school? For example, what courses
in high school and what major in college must I take? I want to
represent India just like you. (Tejas, 15, USA)
A: First of all you will need to preserve your strong sense of
commitment to the ideals of the UN. Your professional qualifications
could include those that could help you join the diplomatic service
of your country and from there on to specialize in multilateral
diplomacy. These days however, specialization is possible in any
one of a great variety of areas ranging from international relations,
developmental economics, education, public health and the prevention
of disease, poverty alleviation, to areas like international law,
peacekeeping, prevention of conflict, information and communication,
etc. All you need to do is find a special field of interest to you
and you will see that there is much you can do at an international
level. You will be able to find the intersection of your field of
specialization with the work being done within the UN. In general
students grounded in international law, international relations
as well as areas of functional specialization find it easier to
secure entry into the diplomatic service and eventually to work
in missions to the UN as well as in the UN secretariat itself.
Q: I have always been attracted by the diplomatic
career. I find it very interesting and consider it very relevant
although some people may not think it is. I think it is beautiful
to represent your country with dignity. What does it feel like being
a spokesman in an organization of such magnitude? (Silvia,
21, Peru) How do you feel taking part in
making some world decisions? (Ernesto, 13, Mexico)
A: There is a lot of pride you derive in representing your country
abroad but it is also a task that involves great responsibility
and hard work. You must remember that like any job this one also
involves patience, dedication and long hours of boring and painstaking
drudgery as well as repetitive work. You need to inculcate the basic
physical, mental and attitudinal attributes that promote an interest
and curiosity about other cultures and modes of thinking as well
as a firm grounding in your own beliefs and national positions.
Q: Mr. Ambassador, since the General Assembly
itself meets for only several weeks in September, what are ambassadors
such as yourself occupied with for the rest of the year? Thank you,
Ian (Ian, 15, Canada)
A: These days the General Assembly meets around the year. True,
the four months between September and December are the busiest periods
of the work of the General Assembly, but these days there are all
kinds of meetings taking place throughout the year. If there is
one thing you cannot complain of it is not having enough to do.
On the contrary most delegation find that they are not able to involve
themselves in the work of many of the committees or sub-groups and
therefore have to restrict their attention to selected areas of
particular interest to their countries.
Q: Dear Ambassador Vijay Kunhianandan Nambiar,
My name is Claudia. In my class at school we are doing our subject
on the United Nations and I was wondering if you could answer my
question: What does an Ambassador do in the United Nations?
(Claudia, 11, Australia)
A: An Ambassador basically represents the interests of his country
in the United Nations. He makes statements on behalf of his government
at meetings and works with other ambassadors to negotiate agreements,
resolutions or declarations on various issues. These agreements
then constitute the basis for his government’s policy in these
fields. Essentially therefore, an Ambassador tries to work out the
basis for policy affecting the people of his country in organizing
their relations with other countries and in achieving the objectives,
goals and targets of his government.
Q: What has
been India’s best achievement in economic and social development?
(Luis, 20, Mexico)
A: The best achievement of India in economic and social development
has been the empowerment of its people on a mass scale. It is the
gradual sense among the broadest sections of the poorer and middling
classes of India of their strong sense of involvement in the development
of their country and the sense that they are improving their lot.
This is provided by the democratic process within India. Over the
years the progress made in India in the elimination of poverty,
in raising the levels of public health, education, social equality
and gender equality have been remarkable even though there is much
that remains to be done. We must remember that there are still large
proportions of the country below the poverty line and major hurdles
still remain in raising the levels of public health and education,
female empowerment and gender equality especially in relation to
the girl child in India. But still I would classify this rather
than the advances in higher education, software industry or even
the rapid strides made by India in the frontiers of science and
technology as the most profound achievements of the country.
Q: What are new challenges that India faces?
(Ronald, 22, Mexico)
A: The new challenges the country faces are connected with the
growth process within India. These include essentially what our
President, Dr. Abdul Kalam, has recently characterized as PURA that
is providing urban amenities to rural areas. It consists of bringing
physical, economic, infrastructure and electronic connectivity for
the rural areas of India to the rest of the country. This includes
the building of both hard and soft infrastructure.
Q: Sir, it must be wonderful being an ambassador
to such a wonderful organization and moreover an Indian. My question
is how would you encourage the youth of India to achieve much from
this world of competition, especially considering the poverty and
lack of education that remains a major problem in India?
(Claudia, 23, India)
A: Recently the President of India placed a ten point challenge
before the youth of India. These included the commitment to take
concrete action to promote literacy, better civic awareness, to
establish better contact between rural and urban areas, to eradicate
the sense of a religious or communal divide amongst people. There
are a number of challenges in the country but these can only be
overcome by a spirit of sacrifice and commitment on the part of
youth, a willingness to put in hard work and a sense of confidence
in the future. Today the youth constitute almost sixty percent of
the population of the country and there is a strong sense of self
confidence and determination among them. There is also a strong
sense of realism and pragmatism among them and an unwillingness
to be taken in by popular slogans and shibboleths.
Q: Dear Ambassador Nambiar, where do you
see India in twenty years? Do you think that India can have the
kind of success China has had with a market economy? Why or why
not? What role do children play in the future of India? And what
steps should India take to destroy all vestiges of the caste system
and become a wealthy nation? Thank you in advance for your time
and thoughtful response. (Peter, 13, USA)
A: I strongly believe that in the next twenty years, that is, by
2024, India will be among the top three or four countries of the
world in terms of what has been described as “comprehensive
national strength.” You will have heard of the recent Goldman
Sachs report which indicates that India could become the third largest
economy in the world if it grows at an average 5.5 per cent a year,
and by 2050 it could well be the fastest-growing economy in the
world. The results are based not merely on extrapolations from the
current levels of economic inputs, but also take into account the
exchange rate appreciation, reform process and the resultant factor
productivity growth. Clearly there is an expectation that India
will be able to have the kind of success that China has had over
the past decade. The methodology used in the calculations is not
very complex. The report not only extrapolates current growth rates
but also sets out "clear assumptions about how the process
of growth and development works" and also by "applying
a formal framework to generate long-term forecasts". It uses
the latest population projections "and a model of capital accumulation
and productivity growth" with which to plot GDP growth, income
per capita and currency movements. There is nothing foolproof about
the conclusions. There are also chances of the estimates going awry.
But purely in terms of the specific economic content, the projections
have been regarded as "sensible, internally consistent and
provide a clear benchmark against which investors can set their
expectations". I must also stress the point made earlier that
the social empowerment process should also have progressed sufficiently
especially in the northern provinces of the country if the growth
is to be stabilized within a strong and viable political framework.
It is also notable that the Goldman Sachs report does suggest that
China could overtake the US by 2041.
Q: My question is, what important roles
does India play in the United Nations? (Justin, 14, Canada)
What benefits have you acquired for your
country? (Alejandra, 17, Mexico) (Laura, 15, Spain)
A: India plays an important role in virtually all the major aspects
of the work of the UN. As you are aware, some of the major activities
of the UN General Assembly cover political and security issues,
issues relating to economic development, social and humanitarian
issues as well as human rights matters, decolonization issues, questions
of peacekeeping and prevention of conflict, legal and treaties questions,
matters relating to the Law of the Sea, UNCITRAL (United Nations
Commission on International Trade Law), etc as well as a large clutch
of issues relating to the Funds, Programmes, and the specialized
agencies. In all these areas, India plays significant roles. Though
we are not members of the UN Security Council either in a permanent
or non-permanent capacity, India participates in open sessions of
the Council. On most matters on the agenda of the Council, India
keeps itself informed and holds constant consultations with Council
members on issues of concern to it. These are given due consideration
by the members of the Council. The benefit India derives is both
direct and indirect. Direct benefit is to promote a better appreciation
on the part of other countries of its position, policy and concerns
on specific issues. It also seeks as far as possible to prevent
the world body from taking any action or adopting a policy that
is contrary or detrimental to its interests, concerns or policies.
These positions then constitute the basis for direct bilateral actions
with other countries in specific policy areas whether in the political
field or in other fields.
Q: I would like to know if children are
protected in India, what is being done for them, why do they live
in extreme poverty? (Adela, 30, Mexico)
A: The Indian Government, with its various schemes, caters to all
its citizens irrespective of caste, creed, gender, age or geographical
origin. Children are taken due care of by the government by various
means and measures. Article 39 of the Directive Principles of
State Policy in the Constitution of India pledges that the
State will direct its policy towards children with an aim of providing
them the opportunities and facilities to grow in a healthy manner,
in conditions of freedom and dignity, and to protect them from exploitation.
Child welfare programmes have occupied a prominent place in the
national plans of the human resource development of the government.
India adopted a National Policy on Children in 1974 which
was aimed at ensuring equality of opportunity to the children. The
policy provides the framework to address the needs of the children.
India is a signatory to the World Declaration on the Survival,
Protection and Development of Children. In pursuance of its
commitment, the Department of Women and Child Development,
has formulated the National Plan of Action for Children.
The areas addressed by the plan include health, nutrition, education,
water, sanitation and environment. The female child who should be
treated as the source of prosperity of the house is, in some parts
of the country considered a burden by her parents. To ensure that
the female child is no longer discriminated, the government has
been campaigning effectively and a National Plan of Action for the
Girl Child seeks among other things to prevent female feticide and
infanticide, to eliminate discrimination based on gender, rehabilitate
and protect girls from exploitation, assault and abuse.
The Education for All campaign of the government addresses
19 to 24 million children in the age group 6 to 14, of which 60
percent are girls. Apart from these activities, numerous Non-Governmental
Organizations in India are providing means to provide shelter, better
health, education and training to the street children, thereby rehabilitating
India's stand on child labour has evolved over years. The Child
Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act of the government aims
at banning employment of children below the age of fourteen years
in factories, mines and hazardous employment.
Q: Do most children in India get a college
education? (Michaela, 9, USA)
A: The literacy level in India is over fifty eight percent. This
means that the number of literate population in India should be
a little less than six hundred million. Yet, only around twenty
five per cent of this figure actually manage to pursue an education
beyond the secondary school level and only around six per cent manage
to get a college degree.
Q: What is the main purpose of sending an
Indian satellite into space? Is it for a military purpose or an
informational purpose? (Hasan, 24, Kuwait)
A: The prime objective of the Indian space research effort has
been to develop space technology and its application to various
national tasks. Since 1969, when it was set up, ISRO (Indian Space
Research Organisation) has established space systems like the INSAT
for telecommunication, television broadcasting and meteorological
services, and the Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS) for resources
monitoring and management. ISRO has also developed the satellite
launch vehicles PSLV and GSLV to place these satellites in the required
orbits. Over the years India’s focus has not been on manned
space missions so much as on space applications. We have similar
launch capabilities to China with launch vehicles like the GSLV.
If we are willing to spend, we can build a similar manned space
mission in five years." Such a mission would require twice
the existing reliability levels, specially for life-support and
spacecraft re-entry systems. India 's space budget at present is
around US$ 500 million. China spends at least five times more on
its military-linked space programme.
Q: What are the uses of nuclear energy in
your country? Are there any ideas about the use of solar energy?
(Hanouf, 21, Kuwait)
A: India's original nuclear power program was based on a policy
of self-reliance and three stages of development: 1) building pressurized
heavy water reactors (PHWR) for the production of electricity and
plutonium, 2) developing commercial fast breeder reactors, and 3)
exploiting the country's thorium resources by converting Thorium-238
to Uranium-233 in breeder reactors. However, ambitious early plans
for development of nuclear power in India have been drastically
curtailed, and budgetary support for the program from the government
has been dramatically reduced. Until 1995 nuclear power supplied
only about 2 per cent of India's electricity.
There is little doubt that India, as a developing country with a
huge population, has growing needs of energy. At present the country
is said to be facing a shortfall of about 40,000 megawatts (MW).
The conventional thermal energy generation that involves the burning
of coal releases twice as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
This will have a disastrous effect on our environment when trees
that could absorb this carbon dioxide are being cut down in large
numbers. Economic reforms that include privatization of power plants
and attracting foreign capital do not seem to be helping either.
More than a billion dollars on an average is lost every year because
of inefficient distribution. Electricity theft and indifferent administration
add further to the loss of the electricity boards. All these things
do not necessarily mean that we need to embark on nuclear power
After a reassessment of the potential of non-conventional energy
sources, we have upgraded the potential realization in the wind
power sector from 20,000 MW to 45,000 MW. A master plan has been
prepared for 80 potential sites in 10 States on the revised criterion
based on mean annual wind power density (MAWPD). India currently
has a total installed wind power capacity of 1,080 MW and at least
five billion units have been fed into the grid since the 1970s.
As for solar power, we already have solar fridges, solar radios,
and even solar hearing aids. We have solar cookers in various shapes
and sizes. Now the world's first solar-powered crematorium is built
in the Indian state of Gujarat. In Rajasthan, the 140 MW Mathania
solar power project is due or has become operational. Solar photovoltaic
cells are still two to five times as costly as power from the grid.
Yet, the sale of solar photovoltaic cells expanded 42 per cent last
year. If annual production grows by 25 per cent a year, solar capacity
could reach 106,000 megawatts by 2020, generating as much as 30
to 40 large nuclear plants. Since 1980, the price of solar cells
has fallen by 80 per cent. A Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) water pumping
system can pump water from a depth of eight meters through the optimum
of 6.5 meters. It can ideally function in a wide-mouth well with
a flow rate of 70,000 liters a day. The system costs about US$ 5,000.
Considering its potential large scale use by farmers, the Indian
Ministry for Non-Conventional Energy Sources and the Indian Renewable
Energy Development Agency have provided a subsidy of half the cost
and an equal amount as soft loan.
Q: Dear Ambassador, I want to know why in
countries such as India or my own country, Mexico, there is so much
mistreatment of women and girls as if we were less than men?
(Andrea, 9, Mexico) Ambassador Nambiar, the
fight for equality, women’s social rights and their active
participation in the society is an important aspect of our time.
How are India’s women being supported and how do those who
make the laws in India support women’s rights? (Griselda,
A: There is no denying the fact that the lot of women in India
in general needs to be improved. For this reason, women are taking
the center stage of planning so that they come to occupy their rightful
place in the development process. Many innovative programmes have
been launched for generating employment, improving income and creating
awareness among women. The ultimate goal is to make women economically
independent and self reliant. Some of these schemes, which go back
to the 1960s and 1970s, lay emphasis on upgrading training and skills
of women and opening more job opportunities for them. In 1992, the
National Commission for Women was set up to investigate and review
matters relating to safeguards for women and also to act as an agency
for redressing all of their grievances. Two important schemes launched
in 1993 were Mahila Rashtriya Kosh, the women's national fund, to
meet the credit needs of women, and Mahila Samridhi Yojna to inculcate
the habit of thrift among rural women. The task of creating a sense
of awareness, particularly among the rural women, to enable them
to become active participants in the process of social transformation
and regeneration has been entrusted to the Indira Mahila Yojna.
India has a strong womens' movement now and the country is well
represented in all international fora for women. At the Fourth World
Conference on Women in Beijing, India was well represented and the
government had prepared itself for the event by getting reports
from 14 core groups covering all important activities of women's
development. Yet, it is necessary to concentrate on imparting social
education before giving any concrete shape to their political empowerment.
Without academic and social education, the political empowerment
of women cannot prove effective. Uneducated women are often subjected
to exploitation at the hands of government machinery. It is not
prudent to restore the rights of the women belonging to the affluent
section of the society only. It is necessary to give due share to
each and every section of the Indian women. Without removing social
stigma, no progress or development can be achieved. The National
Commission for Women has been working for the welfare of the women
apart from governmental efforts. But its efforts have not been adequate
to date. First of all the female child must be treated on par with
the male ones so that equality is restored amongst them. No restoration
of property right would be meaningful without making the female
child psychologically strong.
Q: Bearing in mind that India is the second
largest country on the planet in terms of population, does your
country intend to seek a permanent seat in the Security Council
at any time in the future? (Mindaugas, 21, Kuwait)
A: There are many objective reasons why India is an obvious candidate
for an expanded Security Council. In terms of size, the strength
of the economy, our legacy, the maturity of our political system
and the fact that over the years, we have been at the forefront
of de colonization movement in the UN, we can claim to play a role
in the UN that is at least as significant as many of the permanent
members. We have been at the forefront of many major political movements
including disarmament and our recent decision to assume a minimum
nuclear deterrent was to assure ourselves of a degree of strategic
autonomy in a world that is increasingly subject to the influence
of the major powers. Our contribution to the maintenance of peace
and security is evidenced in the fact that we are one of the largest
troop contributing countries for UN peacekeeping operations. In
the larger developmental debate at the UN, we have been again at
the forefront in espousing the cause of the developing world. I
feel this makes us well qualified for permanent membership of the
Security Council. We do not look for this just for the sake of the
status of a great power. Again this is not something that is there
for somebody else to give and for you to receive. It is a responsibility
and a reality in terms of the power structure of the contemporary
world. Ultimately, the question to be asked is whether the UN Security
Council can perform effectively and credibly in the world without
India serving on it. Can we honestly think of the Council being
truly representative of the interests and aspirations of the people
of the world if the government that represents one sixth of the
people is outside it?
Q: Respected Ambassador, we are six friends
and graduates of veterinary and animal sciences in India. We wish
to get a higher education in UN countries with scholarships. Can
the Indian government help us? With hopeful expectations, we are
waiting your reply. (S. Arjunan, 26, India)
A: You should be contacting the Embassy of India in Kuwait if you
are looking at studying in India. If you are looking for opportunities
for higher education in member states of the UN, you will have to
enquire with each of 191 countries. This will mean a careful research
of the facilities available in each country in the light of your
requirements. You will have to narrow your field to a handful of
countries and approach them directly. There are several countries
that offer scholarships but the competition is fierce and you should
be able to convince the authorities of your talents and capacities.
Q: Your Excellency, I used to think that
only European countries belonged to the UN. I am happy that there
are countries of other continents in the organization. I would like
you to explain to me if it was a long process for India to join
the UN or if it was quick. Thank you for giving a little bit of
your time. (Noemi, 14, Spain)
A: India was a founding member of the UN even before our independence.
The process of joining the UN is not very difficult. On attaining
independence, a state formally applies to join the United Nations
and this application is then considered by the General Assembly
as well as the Security Council each of which takes a decision on
the membership at a formal meeting. After that the concerned state
is invited to occupy its seat in the General Assembly.
Q: Which religion is practiced the most
in India? (Ivan, 16, Spain)
A: The religion that is practiced the most in India is Hinduism.
Q: What type of political system is used
in India? (Ivan, 16, Spain)
A: India attained freedom on 15 August 1947 and declared itself
a Republic on January 26, 1950. The Constitution, shaped by leading
political and constitutional minds in India seeks to ensure justice,
liberty and equality for all its citizens. It provides for single
and uniform citizenship for the whole nation and confers the right
to vote on every person who is a citizen of India and 18 years of
age or older. The Constitution is flexible enough to adjust to the
demands of social and economic changes within a democratic framework.
The first general elections were held in 1952 and since then have
been held regularly every five years. India is a Union of 26 States
and six centrally administered Union Territories. The States are
Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat,
Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala,
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland,
Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh
and West Bengal. The centrally administered territories are Andaman
and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar
Haveli, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry.
The Fundamental Rights of every Indian citizen include the freedom
of speech, expression, belief, assembly and association, migration,
and choice of occupation or trade. These rights also protect every
Indian from discrimination on grounds of race, religion, creed or
sex, and are enforceable in courts of law. India has a parliamentary
form of government based on universal adult franchise. The executive
authority is responsible to the elected representatives of the people
in the Parliament for all its decisions and actions. Sovereignty
rests ultimately with the people.
The legislature is bi-cameral and consists of an Upper House or
Rajya Sabha consisting of 250 members, of whom 12 are nominated
by the President of India and the rest elected. It is not subject
to dissolution, one-third of its members retiring at the end of
every second year. Elections to the Council are indirect. The Lower
House or Lok Sabha consists of 545 members. Of these, 530 are directly
elected from the 25 States and 13 from the seven Union Territories.
Two members are nominated. Unless dissolved sooner, the term of
the House is five years from the date appointed for its first meeting.
The Executive: The President of India is the Head of the State and
the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He is elected by an
electoral college composed of members of both the Houses of Parliament
(Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha) and the legislatures of the nation's
constituent States. The President holds office for five years and
can be re-elected. The President does not normally exercise any
constitutional powers on his own initiative. These are exercised
by the Council of Ministers, headed by the Prime Minister, which
is responsible to the elected Parliament.
The Judiciary: The judiciary is independent of the executive. It
is the guardian and interpreter of the Constitution. The Supreme
Court is the highest judicial tribunal, positioned at the apex of
a single unified system for the whole country. Each State has its
own High Court. A uniform code of civil and criminal laws applies
to the whole country.
The States: The States have their own Legislative Assemblies and
in certain cases a second Chamber. All members of the Legislative
Assemblies are elected by universal adult franchise. The Head of
the States are called Governors. Appointed by the President, they
normally exercise the same powers in the States as the President
does at the Union government level. As in the Central Government,
each State has a Cabinet headed by the Chief Minister responsible
to the elected State Legislature.
Election Commission: The electoral machinery is centralized in an
independent statutory body called the Election Commission. The Commission
is responsible for the 'superintendence, direction and control'
of the electoral rolls for all elections to Parliament and to the
State Legislatures and also for conducting the elections.
Q: I am a
social studies student in Canada and have been asked a question
that I thought you could help me out with, so here is my question:
How effective has the United Nations been in maintaining peace and
security in the world? Thanks so much. (Ben, 19, Canada)
What are the implications of the recent US-Iraq
war to the continued existence of the United Nations and what can
we do as member countries to ensure its relevance? (MB, 18,
Nigeria) What is the UN for, if the United
States was able to go to war anyway? (Natalie, 17, Chile)
Do you think that the Security Council has
been diminished because of the war? (Silvia, 21, Peru)
A: With regard to how effective the UN is, you should see some
of the answers I have already provided earlier about specific issues
covered in earlier sections. I believe that the UN has been effective
especially in the developmental field and has been an enormous force
for good in the world. Even in the political area, if the UN has
failed to perform, it has been due to the political interests of
the powerful nations of the world. This is not to find fault with
them but to sound a note of realism. Ultimately the United Nations
can only be as forceful and effective as its members allow it to
be. The reality of the present situation is that the UN is not given
credit where it has taken effective action and is often blamed for
the ills of the world. This is manifestly unfair to the organization.
Q: Dear Ambassador Nambiar, my name is Rachel.
I go to St. Bernard’s Catholic School in Brisbane, Australia.
My hobbies are netball which I play every Saturday and I like to
play with my little sister and friends too. I have a question: How
can we stop so many siblings from being killed in war? We all have
faith in the UN but is it really working now? (Rachel, 11,
Australia) I think the United Nations is
a good idea, but is it really working? (Claudia, 11, Australia)
A: Please see my answer above.