Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Prime Ministe of India
At 57t" Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York September 13, 2002
I congratulate you on your election as President of the 57th General
Assembly. We wish you success and pledge our whole-hearted support.
I also extend my best wishes to :Secretary General Kofi Annan in this first year of his second term in office.
Two days ago, we commemorated the first anniversary of a terrible
event, which focused the collective global consciousness on international terrorism.
Terrorism did not start on September 11. It was on that day that it brazenly
announced itself on the global stage, flaunting its immunity from distance and
As a country exposed to the depredations of terrorism for decades,
India empathized with the pain of the American people, admired their resilience
in coming to terms with the consequences, and supported the bold decision to
counterattack terrorism at its very source.
The international community has taken some collective decisions
in the global effort to combat terrorism and to choke off its lifelines. The
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373 contains the essence of these decisions.
Its Counter Terrorism Committee should now move beyond information compilation
and legal assistance to enforcing compliance by states known to be sponsoring,
sheltering, funding, arming and training terrorists.
In our South Asian region, nuclear blackmail has emerged over
the last few months as a new arrow in the quiver of State-sponsored terrorism.
Dark threats were held out that actions by India to stamp out cross-border terrorism
could provoke a nuclear war. To succumb to such blatant nuclear terrorism would
mean forgetting the bitter lessons of the September 11 tragedy.
As far as India is concerned, we have repeatedly clarified that no one in our country wants a war -- conventional or otherwise. Nor are we seeking any territory.
But absolutely everyone in India wants an end to the cross-border
terrorism, which has claimed thousands of innocent lives and denied entire generations
their right to a peaceful existence with normal economic and social activity.
We are determined to end it with all the means at our command. Let there be
no doubt about it in any quarter.
Yesterday we heard the extraordinary claim in this Assembly that
the brutal murder of innocent civilians in Jammu & Kashmir is actually a
"freedom struggle". And that the forthcoming elections in that state
are a "farce", since they cannot be a substitute for a plebiscite
demanded over 50 years ago.
It requires an effort of logical acrobatics to believe that carnage
of innocents is an instrument for freedom and elections are a symbol of deception
If the elections are a mere fraud, why are terrorists being trained
and infiltrated into India at the command of the Inter-Services Intelligence
Agency of Pakistan to kill election candidates and to intimidate voters?
If Pakistan claims to be a crucial partner in the international coalition against terrorism, how can it continue to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy against India?
How can the international coalition condone Pakistan-directed
killings of thousands of innocent civilians -- women and children included -
to promote a bizarre version of "self-determination"?
Those who speak of "underlying" or "root"
causes of terrorism, offer alibis to the terrorists and absolve them of responsibility
for their heinous actions - such as the September 11 attacks on the United States
or the December 13 attack on our Parliament.
Those who had to "adjust" voting and counting procedures
to win a referendum - and achieved constitutional authority by the simple expedient
of writing their own constitution - are ill placed to lecture others on freedom
Yesterday we heard yet another patently false and self-serving
claims that in India, Muslims and other minorities are the target of "Hindu
extremists". With 150 million, India has the second largest Muslim population
in the world, more than in Pakistan. We are proud of the multi-religious character
of our society. Equal respect for all faiths, and non-discrimination on the
basis of religion, is not just our Constitutional obligation. As the whole world
knows, it is the signature tune of India's civilization and culture.
We have to recognize that the developmental divide between the
North and the South is becoming wider and deeper by the day. The challenges
that face us are stark and there is no alternative to all the countries of the
world joining hands to face them together.
Over the last decade, 10 million people have been joining the
ranks of the poor each year. A quarter of the world's population lives in extreme
A million lives are lost to malaria each year, Tuberculosis claims
twice as many lives annually. One-fifth of humanity does not have access to
safe drinking water.
We have to find US$ 24 billion annually for investment in poor
countries if we are to achieve the World Food Summit goal of halving hunger
It was this bleak picture that we addressed in our Millennium
Declaration in 2000 with a time-bound - road map for poverty eradication, with
goals and targets to be achieved by 2015. The Monterrey Conference on Financing
for Development was an encouraging beginning in the effort to enhance international
financing for development.
Continuation of widespread poverty, at a time when unimaginable
wealth is concentrated in a small social layer, is totally unacceptable. The
21St century has all the means to end this sad legacy of the past centuries.
What is lacking is the political will among the developed countries to sincerely
and speedily address the legitimate developmental needs of the developing countries,
especially the least developed ones.
The poor of the world, as also the more enlightened sections of the rich around the world, would like the United Nations to spearhead efforts to end the systemic indifference towards poverty. The agenda of action that would achieve this objective is clear:
Casting an even longer shadow over this grim developmental canvas
is global climate change - from which the poor will suffer the most, though
they contributed the least to it. The recent floods and forest fires in Europe
are a forewarning that the countries of Asia and Africa are not the only victims
of the fury of a degraded environment. The Earth's atmosphere and biosphere
know no national boundaries. The choice before the global community is stark:
Either we take urgent steps to protect the environment, or be prepared for far
worse natural calamities.
Early this month, the Johannesburg Summit for Sustainable Development
debated some of the linkages between poverty, trade, environment, national,
international & corporate governance and global financial flows. We emerged
from the Summit with some encouraging outcomes, but these fell well short of
the demands of our time.
It has become a categorical imperative to understand, and address,
man's developmental needs in their totality - and not in isolated parts. It
is disconcerting that the highways of development are jammed by the noisy and
unruly traffic of materialism and its brash cousin, consumerism. Human values
have become mute bystanders in most political, economic and social activities.
The result of this imbalance between our material and non-material needs can never be happy for mankind. On the contrary, by placing compassion, care, fellow feeling, cooperation and other human values in the driver's seat, we are bound to get the right solutions to every problem on our planet.
Humanity is crying out for a harmonious integration of the economic,
social, political, environmental and spiritual dimensions of development. This
task calls for the closest possible cooperation among nations and communities,
with a readiness to accept the best from every cultural and spiritual tradition
around the globe. The United Nations needs to take up newer and bigger initiatives
in this direction.
In this Assembly, less than a year ago - and in the US Congress
the year before - I had extended India's offer to coordinate a Comprehensive
Global Development Dialogue. I reiterate that offer today. If we are to achieve
the development goals we have promised ourselves by 2015, we need such a dialogue
As we come together once again at the United Nations, at a time
of new and varied challenges, we should reflect on our collective commitment
to the UN Charter, its purposes and principles. There is a growing perception
- particularly among the weaker and poorer countries - that responses to issues
of far-reaching impact often seem arbitrary or contradictory.
A common destiny is at stake. The world needs collective multilateralism.
It needs the United Nations - the coming together and working together of all
its nations in the development of a common and collective perspective.
Conflicts arise when there is no spirit of democracy within and
among nations. A genuinely democratic framework enables us to respect alternative
points of view, to value diversity, and to fashion solutions responsive to the
aspirations of the people.
India's own experience as a hugely populated and diverse nation
shows how complex problems can be addressed within a constitutional and democratic
These values need to be assiduously nurtured in our societies, so that at least a future generation is rid of the scourge of poverty, intolerance, obscurantism and religious extremism.
Democratic societies are far less prone to ideologies based on
violence or militarist yearnings, since they do not have their fingers permanently
on the trigger of a gun. We have to be vigilant against threats to democracy
worldwide arising from forces that are opposed to it, be they rooted in fundamentalist
political dogmas or extremist religious ideologies.
All of us are aware of the challenges. Most of us are agreed that
a stable global order has to rest on the four strong pillars of peace, security,
sustainable development and democracy. We have to ensure that each of these
pillars is strong and resilient.
We are conscious of our collective responsibility. It is the leap from this theoretical understanding to its practical realization, which we have often failed to execute. We should not fail again. Our future generations will not forgive us if we do.