The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singh at head: of walk and Asia

Jakarta, April 24: Manmohan Singh today represented all the countries of Asia when he spoke at the concluding session of the historic Asian-African Conference, which was held in Bandung today.

'In the context of the present global challenges, the Non-Aligned Movement remains a valid and effective instrument to ensure the creation of a more just and fair and global order,' the Prime Minister said.

Singh stressed the need to make the UN and international financial institutions democratised and more representative.

Other leaders of the region, including Chinese President Hu Jintao, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi ' who is scheduled to arrive in Delhi next week to strengthen Japan's ties with India ' listened in rapt attention as Singh spoke.

That Singh represented Asia is a clear indication of India's rising stock in the world and may be the cumulative effect of steps Delhi has been taking in the past few years to mend fences with neighbours and strengthen relations with traditional friends in Asia and Africa.

It also indicates that India is seriously trying to take on the mantle of an emerging player in the global field. India is no longer willing to play second fiddle to other countries and wants to regain the position of the leader of the developing world.

'We must also ensure that the global trading system is made more sensitive to the needs and aspirations of poorer countries,' the Prime Minister said.

'Just as the NAM played a central role in the struggle for political emancipation in the past, we need to revitalise this moment to make it a vehicle for social and economic emancipation in our times,' Singh said, recalling the strong bond between Asian and African countries.

Others who spoke included Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono, the host of the summit.

Early today, the Prime Minister, accompanied by foreign minister K. Natwar Singh and other leaders, took a 30-minute special flight to Bandung. Soon after, he took the lead in the 100-metre walk from the Hotel Savoy Homann to Gedung Merdeka ' the Victory Hall.

The Prime Minister felt that developing countries must move in two directions at the same time to meet the new global challenges.

At one level, cooperation among the countries must increase manifold to resolve bilateral differences and strengthen solidarity among themselves 'in the age of globalisation'.

Singh also stressed on introspection and the need for Asian and African countries to remove the weaknesses in their political and social structures.

'We must realise that if development is to be sustainable, it cannot be transplanted from without. It must be intrinsic and appropriate to our societies. We should be aware of lacunae in our processes of governance, which prevent us from effectively delivering services to our people,' he said.

'Our structures of governance must be modernised and made more suitable to the needs of our times. Our goal must be to ensure the improved delivery of services to all our citizens,' asserted the Prime Minister.

'We need to act on the adage that power is a societal trust and we owe it to our people to ensure that it is expended for the common good,' Singh said.

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