Modi wants SAARC war against poverty

Mr. Modi calls poverty the common enemy of the region, praises Nepal for end to violence. Bangladesh High Commissioner Tariq Karim, who was in the audience, called the speech "pragmatic and inspiring."

August 15, 2014 02:55 pm | Updated April 21, 2016 03:48 am IST - New Delhi

Poverty is the common enemy of SAARC countries, Mr. Modi said during his Independence Day speech.

Poverty is the common enemy of SAARC countries, Mr. Modi said during his Independence Day speech.

Building on his theme of giving India’s neighbourhood priority, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that it was necessary for SAARC countries to tackle their “common enemy” of poverty together. “India’s foreign policy has many facets,” said Mr. Modi, “But I want to focus on our relations with our neighbours in my speech,” he told the audience at the Red Fort that included more than 140 diplomats who were provided a live translation of the speech over headphones for the first time.

Mr. Modi said the SAARC region had a common history relating to the freedom movement. “Our common forefathers fought for freedom together. If without weapons or resources we could defeat a powerful sultanate (British rule), can’t we win against poverty together?”

“Pakistan agrees there is a need to inject energy into SAARC”, said Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit, reacting to Mr. Modi’s speech. “Poverty is a common challenge for all 8 SAARC countries,” he told The Hindu . Bangladesh’s High Commissioner Tariq Karim, who was also in the audience, called the speech “pragmatic and inspiring.” “Prime Minister Modi focussed on issues that should unite, rather than divide.”

During his speech, Prime Minister Modi made several references to his visit to Nepal, adding that India could learn from Nepal’s example, where young men who had once “wielded a gun” were now part of mainstream democracy. Welcoming the remarks made by Mr. Modi, Nepal PM Sushil Koirala’s advisor Dinesh Bhattarai told The Hindu , “By resolving internal conflict and allowing Maoists safe-return, the government has ushered in peace. We appreciate that Mr. Modi and the world realises it.”

Despite much speculation, and unlike his predecessor Dr. Manmohan Singh, Mr. Modi did not refer to Pakistan directly. After Mr. Modi's speech in Leh on Tuesday, where he had warned of Pakistan’s “proxy war”, his speech was being watched closely for references on terror. Last year on Independence day, Dr. Singh had said, “For relations with Pakistan to improve, it is essential that they prevent the use of their territory and territory under their control for any anti-India activity.”

(with inputs from Damakant Jayshi)

Top News Today


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.