At UN General Assembly, Narendra Modi calls for unity against terror

Prime Minister's speech highlights development and environment at the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly.

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:52 pm IST

Published - September 27, 2019 10:05 pm IST - New York

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, on September 27, 2019.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, on September 27, 2019.

In an address to the 74th session of the UN General Assembly that combined elements of a campaign speech and a call to action, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday showcased his government’s developmental and environmental record, and set out its agenda. He called for unanimity in combating terrorism and said the UN needed to adopt a new direction.

“When a developing country is able to successfully implement the world’s biggest sanitation campaign within the Clean India Mission, building over 110 million toilets in just 5 years for its countrymen, all its achievements and outcomes are an inspirational message for the entire world,” Mr. Modi said.

“The largest number of supreme sacrifices made by soldiers of any country for UN peace keeping missions is from India,” Mr. Modi said, adding, “We belong to a country that has given the world, not war, but Buddha’s message of peace.”


On terrorism, Mr Modi said, “The lack of unanimity amongst us on the issue of terrorism, dents those very principles, that are the basis for the creation of the UN. And that is why, for the sake of humanity, I firmly believe, that it is absolutely imperative, that the world unites against terrorism, and that the world stands as one against terrorism.”

Through the past week, both the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minster S Jaishankar have, either explicitly or implicitly called out Pakistan for its support of cross-border terror.

Saying a fragmented world was in nobody’s interest, Mr. Modi called for a new direction to multilateralism and to the UN, saying it was no longer possible, due to modern technology to be confined within ones borders.

Outside the venue, Indian Americans, The Coalition Against Fascism in India, Dalit groups, Kashmiris, Sikh Khalistanis and Pakistanis staged a protest against India’s action in Kashmir.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday highlighted his government’s achievements in financial inclusion, biometric identities, health coverage and the Clean India Mission, in which over 110 million toilets had been built in five years.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Mr. Modi declared several targets for the next few years. This included a nationwide campaign to “make India free of single-use plastic” which was currently under way and targeting eradication of tuberculosis in India by 2025.

In addition to the developmental themes he had brought up in speeches earlier this week, Mr. Modi reiterated India’s leadership in the environmental arena, and reminded his audience that India has one of the lowest emissions on a per capita basis.

Revisiting a theme from his address at the Climate Action Summit on Monday, Mr. Modi declared a target of 450 GW of solar energy capacity for India (time frames were not provided). 

He also invited “all countries to join” the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure – an intiative India has launched with countries like the UK, Australia, Fiji and the Maldivives to build infrastructure resistant to natural disasters.


His speech also included references to Mahatma Gandhi, and Swami Vivekananda. He also quoted Tamil poet Kaniyan Poongundranaar, saying, “Yadum, Ooray, Yaavarum Kelir” [we belong to all places and we belong to everyone]. Significantly, he called Tamil the world’s “most ancient” language. The NDA government has been recently criticised for promoting Hindi over other Indian languages.

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