PM Modi’s US visit gives momentum to bilateral ties, UNGA speech outlines governance vision

M Modi at UNGA Sept. 25, 2021 New York. Photo: Twitter @PMOIndia

New York/Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to the US since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic saw the bilateral ties getting new momentum with Quad leaders announcing ambitious initiatives during their first in-person meeting to take forward their vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific and meet 21st-century challenges.

The situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of the country also figured in discussions during Prime Minister’s meetings.

The Prime Minister, who addressed the UN General Assembly in New York after his engagements in Washington, said that the impact of India’s development on global progress is evident.

“When India grows, the world grows; when India reforms, the world transforms,” he said in his speech on Saturday.

The Prime Minister highlighted the transformational role of technology in the daily lives of people and laid stress on diversified, resilient and expanded global value chains.

He warned countries using terrorism as a political tool that it will backfire on them and cautioned against regressive thinking and extremism. He said the soil of Afghanistan must not be allowed to be used by terrorists.

During the substantive visit, the Prime Minister interacted with five global CEOs and had bilateral meetings with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on September 23. He also met US Vice President Kamala Harris.

On the second day of his visit, the Prime Minister had a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden. He participated in the first in-person Quad summit.
The Prime Minister addressed the United Nations General Assembly on the last day of his visit.

Calling Quad a “force for global good,” the Prime Minister said that cooperation among four-member countries – India, United States, Australia and Japan – will ensure peace and prosperity in Indo-Pacific and in the entire world.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister proposed a common international travelling protocol that involved mutual recognition of Covid-19 certification.

PM Modi’s meeting with the US President was characterized by warmth, cordiality with the two leaders stating that the comprehensive global strategic partnership between the two countries was firmly anchored in a shared commitment to democratic values and common strategic interests.

Prime Minister envisioned a decade of transformational partnership in the US- India relationship with emphasis on “tradition, technology, trade, trusteeship and talent”.

He raised a number of issues that involved the Indian Community including access for Indian professionals to the United States in terms of H1-B visas and return of social security contributions of Indian professionals when they leave the United States.

PM Modi laid thrust on the development of trade and economic relations. The two sides also discussed relations in areas of technology, in particular, space, cyber, health, AI, 5G, 6G and cyberspace.

On defense, the two sides decided to look at practical new projects that could impart new momentum to the defense relationship. India is a major defense partner of the United States. There was an emphasis on co-development, co-production and expanding the area of industrial cooperation in the defense sector.

There was an appreciation of India’s presidency of the United Nations Security Council, especially on the issue of Afghanistan. President Biden was very specific in stating that India should have permanent seat in UN Security Council.

The US side welcomed India’s announcement about resuming exports of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines. There was support for the Prime Minister’s initiative to achieve the domestic goal of installing 450 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030.

PM Modi also invited the US President to visit India.

India and the US denounced any use of terrorist proxies and emphasized the importance of denying logistical, financial and military support to terrorist groups, which could be used to plan or launch terror attacks.

On Afghanistan, there was a lot of importance attached to the UN resolution 2593 adopted under India’s Presidency of the Security Council. The two sides underscored the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan. They called the Taliban to adhere to its commitments under resolution 2593, which includes ensuring that Afghan territory is not used to threaten and attack any countries and to shelter or train terrorist groups.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who addressed the media later, said there was clear concern expressed on Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan and its continuing support for a certain approach that did not seem to be conducive to the international community’s, expectations of what Afghanistan should be like.

In the Quad Summit meeting, the four leaders shared perspectives on the situation in Afghanistan, emergent challenges in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific, reaffirmed their commitment to work together to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and work towards preventing other pandemics that would come in the future.

They discussed evolving a common approach to emerging technologies, cyber security and addressing the challenge of climate change.

The Prime Minister announced not only the resumption of vaccines, but at the request of the Quad said that India would make available eight million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines and this would be ready by the end of October.
In terms of climate change, the Prime Minister proposed the concept of a global green hydrogen initiative.

“We have already identified green corridors, including green ports in India. And the idea is that we cooperate to develop India as a hub of green hydrogen,” Shringla said.

“The Prime Minister proposed a common international travelling protocol that involved mutual recognition of COVID-19 certification. This was, I think well-received by President Biden and other QUAD leaders as well,” he added.

The Prime Minister offered to make India’s digital technologies available to different parts of the world.

In terms of people-to-people cooperation there was a decision to inaugurate the QUAD fellowship program.

Quad leaders said they are committed to working together to foster an open, accessible, and secure technology ecosystem

A senior Quad infrastructure coordination group will meet regularly to share assessments of regional infrastructure needs and coordinate respective approaches to deliver transparent, high-standard infrastructure.

The fact-sheet issued after Quad Leaders’ Summit talked of forming a green-Shipping network, establishing a Clean-Hydrogen Partnership, publishing Quad Statement of Principles, establishing Technical Standards Contact Groups and launching a semiconductor supply chain initiative. It said that Quad countries will also share Satellite data to protect the earth and its waters:

The Quad countries will monitor trends in critical and emerging technologies, starting with advanced biotechnologies, including synthetic biology, genome sequencing, and biomanufacturing.

Noting that Quad is a force for regional peace, stability, security, and prosperity, the leaders said they will continue to champion adherence to international law, particularly as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in her meeting with PM Modi said there were terror groups that were working in Pakistan. She asked Pakistan to take action so that these groups do not impact US security and that of India.

In his speech at the 75th UNGA, PM Modi said there is a need to stay away from race of “expansion and exclusion”.

He highlighted flagship schemes of his government including Ayushmann Bharat, PM Awas Yojana and PM Jan Dhan Yojana and emphasised the principle of ‘Antyodaya’.

“I can say with my own experience that democracy can deliver. Yes, democracy has delivered. Today is the birth anniversary of Deendayal Upadhyaya, the proponent of Ekatma Manav darshan, which means integral humanism or the development journey undertaken together with the expansion of the self to the universe moving from individual to the society to the nation and the entire humanity,” he said.

The Prime Minister pointed that his government’s priority is that development should be all-inclusive, universal and one that nurtures all.

He said the UN must improve its effectiveness to maintain its relevance and that it is important the world body is constantly strengthened for preserving “global order, global laws and global values”.

He said several questions are being raised concerning the UN. “These questions we have seen in the form of the climate crisis, during COVID. The proxy wars in different parts of the world, terrorism and now Afghanistan have reinforced those questions. The institutions linked to world governance have harmed their credibility in the context of origins of COVID-19 and ease of doing business rankings,” he said.

He called on the international community to work in unison to strengthen the rule-based world order.

“To strengthen the rule-based world order, the international community must speak in unison. The broad consensus reached during India’s Presidency in the Security Council shows the world the way forward in the matter of maritime security,” he said.

PM Modi said the countries which are making use of regressive thinking as a “political tool” must understand, that terrorism poses an equally big threat for them.

“The world must ensure that the land of Afghanistan must not be used to spread terrorism and terrorist attacks. We must stay alert that no one should make use of the delicate situation in Afghanistan as a political tool for their own use,” he said.

He also informed that India has developed the first DNA-based COVID vaccine, which can be given to people older than 12 years.

PM Modi pointed out that despite having limited resources, “India is working aggressively towards vaccine development and manufacturing”.

He said India is known as the mother of democracy, adding that “our diversity is the identity of our strong democracy”



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