| Manmohan Singh’s wife, Gursharan Kaur, and their daughter listen to his speech at the General Assembly. Picture by Jay Mandal
New York, Sept. 15: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called for a “New Deal” which will take on the global challenges of the 21st century.
Addressing the 60th session of the UN General Assembly, the economist Prime Minister jogged the memories of world leaders gathered here for the special summit coinciding with the General Assembly about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous New Deal which followed the Great Depression of the 1930s.
“The world awaits a ‘New Deal’ that can spur development and create jobs on a global scale,” the Prime Minister said in his seven-minute address.
Singh spoke at the General Assembly with obvious pride about an “Outcome Document”, to be adopted here tomorrow by the biggest summit of world leaders in history.
“We welcome the agreement reached on the draft Outcome Document to be adopted tomorrow. It is a roadmap for the work ahead to re-orient the (UN) organisation to meet the challenges of the present. India will be a keen willing participant in this process.”
Singh’s pride in the document stems from India’s close association with it: Delhi’s permanent representative to the UN, Nirupam Sen, was involved in its preparation right till the final draft as member of a 10-nation group which was mandated by the president of the General Assembly to overcome differences on its content.
Sen was able to push through many issues of crucial interest to India after negotiations that lasted until the wee hours over many days.
The Prime Minister proclaimed India’s support for the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to cut global poverty and advance a variety of social causes.
The Prime Minister underplayed India’s bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council because Delhi’s efforts to secure the seat in association with Brazil, Germany and Japan are at a crucial stage. He obviously did not want to rock the boat.
Singh largely ignored General Pervez Musharraf's effort at the same forum yesterday to rake up the Kashmir issue all over again. But he did say for the record that “for several years India has faced cross-border terrorism directed against its unity and territorial integrity. We shall never succumb to or compromise with terror, in Jammu and Kashmir or elsewhere.”
Although Singh did not speak in Hindi, unlike his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he did draw a parallel between Indian civilisational ethos and the UN.
“This is the ancient Indian concept of vasudhaiva kutumbakam or the whole world is one family.”
Singh reminded world leaders that “it is this idea of a shared destiny which encouraged this august assembly, five years ago, to adopt the Millennium Development Goals.”