Addressing the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly at United Nations in New York on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homage to the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic before explaining to the world the idea of democracy in India.
"For the last year and a half, the world has been dealing with the worst pandemic in over 100 years. I pay my respects to all who have lost their lives. I represent a nation that is called the Mother of Democracy and this year India completed 75 years of independence. Our identity is our strong democracy. India is a shining example of a vibrant democracy and on that note democracy can deliver and it has delivered," Modi said.
"The strength of India's democracy lies in the fact that a young tea seller is addressing the UN for the fourth time," the prime minister said.
Development in India
Prime Minister Modi highlighted how steps are being in India, despite it being a highly populated country, to improve the quality of life of its citizens.
"Today, India is looking at integrated development that is all-inclusive. During the last seven years, 43 crore people signed up for bank accounts and 36 crore people have been insured. We have made over 3 crore homes. The homeless have become homeowners. At the same time, we are looking to provide piped water to 17 crore homes and has embarked on a journey to provide clean and potable water," he said.
"Inspired by Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya Ji's philosophy of 'Antyodaya', India is moving ahead and ensuring integrated and equitable development for all. We are committed to his message of 'expansion of the self, moving from individual to the society, the nation and entire humanity'. Development should be all-inclusive, all-nutritive, all-touching, all-pervading and it is our priority. From mapping land to providing credit, we are providing people a chance to own homes. India is one sixth of the world, therefore, when India grows, the world grows. When India reforms, the world transforms," Prime Minister Modi said.
On the vaccine front
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke about the manner in which India is handling its mammoth immunisation programme against COVID-19.
"India is heavily involved in vaccine development and manufacturing. India vaccine delivery platform Co-WIN is offering digital support to administer crores of doses in a day. Through "seva parmo dharm", India has successfully overcome various constraints and innovated vaccines and has already developed a DNA vaccine that can be administered to those 12 years and above. We are in the process of developing an MRNA vaccine. We have also developed a nasal vaccine and are providing vaccines to millions across the world. I invite all vaccine manufacturers to come and make vaccines in India," the prime minister said.
Technology and innovation
Prime Minister Modi also pointed out the big strides that India has taken on the technology and innovaton front. Through various transformational development programmes, India is contributing to global development and ensuring that "no one is left behind".
"We have a tech-driven democracy. COVID-19 has shown the world that it needs to diversify its economy. Aatmanirbhar Bharat is aimed at expanding global value chains. India is a trustworthy democratic partner for the global economy. You will be happy to see the advances made by India to tackle climate change. We have a strong start-up economy. We are also in the process of building the world's largest green hydrogen hub," he said.
"India's tech innovations are helping the world, whether it be ensuring financial inclusion through UPI or improving vaccination drive in the fight against COVID-19 through the Co-WIN app," he added.
On India's stance on terrorism and extremism
India has been a constant victim of terror on its western and northern fronts because of the terror factory in Pakistan although Prime Minister Modi did not name the country directly in his speech. The recent development in Afghanistan with the Taliban at the helm has only made the situation even more serious.
"Regressive thinking and extremism are becoming a threat to the world. There are countries that are using terror as a political tool. They should know that terror is equally dangerous for them. We have to ensure that Afghanistan is not used to propel terror. Some are trying to use the situation in Afghanistan as a tool for their own benefit. Proxy war, terror and the situation in Afghanistan are asking us tough questions," the prime minister said urging the world to the terror activities initiated by India's western neighbour.
On maritime security
The prime minister also focussed his attention on the importance of oceans and seas and the important role they play in global security and trade.
"Our seas are our legacy and shared heritage. We cannot let our oceans be misused and abused. Maritime security is a requirement today. The time to act is now, UN has to keep itself relevant and has to improve its reliability. We have to make UN an institution to protect global order, global law and global values. We cannot let our access to oceans be made exclusive. Our oceans are also our shared heritage. That is why we have to keep in mind that we use ocean resources, not abuse," he said.
Harmony between economy and ecology
Prime minister Narendra Modi said India is ensuring a balance between economy and ecology and the world can take pride in India's efforts to combat climate change.
He concluded with with a quote by Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore, "continue to work on your path without fear, and all weaknesses and apprehensions will vanish".