India is a Remarkable Leader in the Commonwealth Family: SG Scotland

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Her Majesty The Queen, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and Commonwealth leaders including Indian PM Narendra Modi at the formal opening of CHOGM in 2018. PHOTO: Commonwealth Secretariat

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Patricia Scotland has said that India is a remarkable leader in the Commonwealth family and praised its advancement in digital space, solar energy, and its generosity in assisting Commonwealth nations with COVID vaccines.

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Patricia Scotland during the exclusive interview with News India Times on October 15, 2022 at St. Gregory Hotel in Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

In an exclusive interview with News India Times on October 15, 2022, at St. Gregory Hotel, in Washington DC, Secretary-General Scotland said, “India has been remarkable. If you look at the industrialization that has taken place in India, the technological development that has happened, and the digitalization – it has brought so many of her people out of poverty, particularly women. And this digitalization has been an inspiration for many of our countries.”

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She added “India has also really developed on solar energy – we have the International Solar Alliance and we are looking together at how we can support the Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Transition. India has been generous in offering many of these technological innovations to other countries in the Global South and in particular to our Commonwealth family.”

Amid the widespread perspective that countries will opt out of the Commonwealth after Queen Elizabeth’s death, Scotland implied the opposite and asserted that the Commonwealth has been growing stronger. She informed that two new members Togo, and Gabon, which were French countries and never part of the English empire also joined the Commonwealth in June. Even, Zimbabwe is trying to come back and if that happens, there will be a total of 57 states (vs. the current 56).

She said, “The Commonwealth has never been stronger. I know that there has been a number of individuals who conflated the issue of countries wishing to no longer be a Commonwealth realm – that is no longer having His Majesty King Charles III as their Head of State – with whether they wish to remain a member of the Commonwealth,” adding “This is not the case, India, as a republic, is a founding member of the Commonwealth and we have many republics as committed members of our family.”

Scotland stated, “The new King has said that the Commonwealth is one of the foundation stones of his life. So, his dedication to the Commonwealth is equal to that of his mother,” while recalling that in 2018, Commonwealth leaders came together and discussed who would succeed the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth and their unanimous decision was King Charles III – then Prince Charles.

About her address to Commonwealth Finance Ministers on October 12th during the Annual IMF-World Bank meetings, and discussions with finance ministers, Scotland informed they came together and discussed strategies to re-energize their countries with the assistance of financial institutions. “We really need to address these issues in a much more creative way. We have come up in the Commonwealth with the Universal Vulnerability Index to enable international financial institutions to better understand how they can help our countries to reemerge.”

She reminded that the pandemic, climate change, and the Russia-Ukraine war have exacerbated the issues of Commonwealth countries.

When asked about her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, Scotland recalled that she had extraordinary discussions – PM Modi had talked about his intention to have 101 new cities and that development pursued by India was a very hopeful development for others. She further lauded PM Modi’s commitment to climate change, taking advantage of the circular economy, and his interest in the symbiotic economy, electric vehicles, and solar energy, among other aspects.

“So it was a very fruitful discussion and it was very exciting to see the warmth with which he [PM Modi] participated in discussions with other leaders.”

She went on to praise India’s initiatives towards the Commonwealth family. In 2018, through the UN-India Fund, India gave $150 million worth of assistance to the Global South and $50 million to the Commonwealth member states. As such, The Bahamas and Barbados have already benefited, and more countries are seeking assistance through that fund. India also responded generously to requests made by Commonwealth countries, particularly small island states, that had difficulty finding vaccines.

About India’s G20 Presidency, Secretary-General Scotland said, “I am looking forward to India’s G20 Presidency. The innovation that India has been responsible for, particularly in the digital space, has been exponential in its beneficial effect. And we hope that the leadership that India has shown up to now will be absolutely taken into that G20.”

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