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Sushma Swaraj at UNGA : Terrorism Is An Existentialist Danger To Humankind


“We are turning them from job-seekers into job-providers.”

In 2015, we set ourselves a target of 2030 to find solutions to many challenges on this Agenda. Two of these years have already passed. Surely it is already time to ask how much has happened. If complacency defines the next 13 years then we are in danger of losing control. We need a sense of urgency as well as unshakeable fortitude to take decisions that can avert catastrophe.

India has displayed the courage and leadership to take tough decisions which have launched the interlinked process of sustainable development. The complete eradication of poverty is the most important priority of the present government. There are two ways of addressing the curse of poverty. The traditional method is through incremental levels of aid and hand-holding. But our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has chosen the more radical route, through economic empowerment. The poor are not helpless; we have merely denied them opportunity. We are eliminating poverty by investing in the poor. We are turning them from job-seekers into job-providers.

All our economic programmes have a principal purpose, the empowerment of the poor: Jan Dhan, Mudra, Ujjwala, Skill India, Digital India, Clean India, Start-Up India, Stand-Up India. 

The Jan Dhan plan must surely count as the world’s largest financial inclusion scheme. Those who did not have any money their bank accounts were opened with zero balance and this would not have happened anywhere in world that if you do not have any money you have a bank account. They have a bank passbook. But this impossible has been made possible in India. At least 300 million Indians, it’s not a small amount. This is the total population of USA. At least 300 million Indians who had never crossed the doors of a bank today have bank accounts: this is equivalent to the population of the United States of America. This was, understandably, not easy to complete in three years, but our banks, achieved this visionary goal set by our Prime Minister. While some remain to be included, the target has been set – every Indian family will have a bank account.

Mudra yojana has enabled government to fund the unfunded. Those who had never dreamt that bank credit was within their options, today, through Mudra, are getting soft loans without collateral to begin micro businesses. I am particularly delighted to inform you that over 70 per cent of these loans have gone to women. Unemployment spreads despair. Through Skill India, Start-Up India and Stand-Up India poor and middle class youth are being trained to match their honed talent with bank credit and become self-employed or small-scale entrepreneurs.

Ujjwala is a signature scheme of our government for poor women. They had to work hard for their kitchens, and sometimes they lose their eye sight because of smoke. Free gas cylinders are being provided to the poor so that women do not have to suffer the dangerous consequences of wood-fired kitchens. Uniquely, gender emancipation is at the creative core of this programme.

Demonetisation was a courageous decision to challenge one of the by-products of corruption, the “black money” that disappeared from circulation. Today, India has passed the Goods and Services Tax legislation, through which there is one-tax across the country, without the untidy and punishing system of multiple taxes under differing categories in different parts of the country. Our “Save the girl, Educate the girl” campaign is reducing gender inequality. Our Clean India programme is generating what can only be described as a revolutionary change in social attitudes and habits. 

The nations with rising capabilities will be able to generate such change, but the developed world must become an active partner in helping those vulnerable countries which are still mired in stagnant poverty reach SDG horizon within 2030. That is why the principle of Global Partnership was included in SDGs. 

“India has risen despite the principle destination of Pakistan’s nefarious export of terrorism”

Why is it that today India is a recognised IT superpower in the world, and Pakistan is recognised only as the pre-eminent export factory for terror? What is the reason for this have they ever thought? There is only one reason. India has risen despite the principle destination of Pakistan’s nefarious export of terrorism. There have been many governments under many parties during 70 years of India’s freedom for we have been a sustained democracy. Every government has done its bit for India’s development. We have marched ahead consistently without pause creatingIIMs, IITs, AIIMS and in the fields of education, health, space and across the range of human welfare.We established scientific and technical institutions which are the pride of the world. But what has Pakistan offered to the world and indeed to its own people apart from terrorism? We produced scholars, doctors, engineers. They have produced terrorists and terrorist camps. Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hijbul Mujahideen, Haqqani Network. We produce scholars, doctors, engineers, scientists. What did you make Pakistan? You created terrorists and Jihadis. And you know, Doctors save people from death; terrorists send them to death. Your terrorist organisations are not only attacking India but are also affecting our two neighbours, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

In the history of UNGA it may be a first that a country asked for a right of reply and it had to answer to 3 countries. Does this fact does not depict the reality of their actions? If Pakistan had spent on its development what it has spent on developing terror, both Pakistan and the world would be safer and better-off today. 

Terrorism is at the very top of problems for which the United Nations is searching for solutions. We have been the oldest victims of this terrible and even traumatic terrorism. When we began articulating about this menace, many of the world’s big powers dismissed this as a law and order issue. Now they know better. The question is: what do we do about it?

“Terrorism is an existentialist danger to humankind”

India has proposed a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) as early as in 1996, yet two decades later the United Nations has not been able to agree upon a definition of terrorism. If we cannot agree to define our enemy, how can we fight together? If we continue to differentiate between good terrorists and bad terrorists, how can we fight together? If even the United Nations Security Council cannot agree on the listing of terrorists, how can we fight together?

Through you, with utmost sincerity, I would like to request this august assembly to stop seeing this evil with self-defeating and indeed meaningless nuance. Evil is evil. Let us accept that terrorism is an existentialist danger to humankind. There is absolutely no justification for this barbaric violence. Let us display our new commitment by reaching agreement on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism this year itself.

“We mean peace not only among human beings but also peace with nature” 

Climate change has been indentified as one of the significant dangers to our existence. India has already said that it is deeply committed to the Paris Accord. This is not because we are afraid of any power, influenced by friend or foe, or tempted by some imagined greed. This is an outcome of a philosophy that is at least 5000 years old. Our Prime Minister has, on his personal initiative, launched the International Solar Alliance as witness to our abiding commitment to a cause.

When we talk of world peace, we mean peace not only among human beings but also peace with nature. We understand that human nature is sometimes inimical to nature, but we would like to amend human nature when it tends in the wrong directions. When we inflict our greed upon nature, nature sometimes explodes. We must learn to live with the imperatives, cycles and creative urges of nature; in that lies, our own salvation.

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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