Mr. Inder Kr. Gujral
Mrs. Shiela Gujral
Excerpts from the book "A Foreign Policy for India"
We are celebrating in India the fiftieth anniversary of our emergence as a free nation. The constitutional mooring and democratic forms which the new nation-state has accepted and adapted rest on the vast foundation of civilisational experience and ethos. This explains the stability, coherence and creative unity of the vast Indian society which is a world in itself. The experience has wrought in us the deep conviction that, while there are universally shared values and striving, there can be no rigid prescriptions. We see the United Nations in this image, as a crucible in which we melt together our individual contributions to a world civilisation, yet in recognition of the variety of historical and cultural experience we bring to it.
The Cold War cast an early shadow on the organisation, creating a situation of ideological polarisation. The Non-aligned Movement rejected this imposition of rigidity, representing an independent and responsible alternative world view. This still remains so, and NAM retains its validity and relevance, even after the disappearance of block rivalries. Nonalignment was not a by-product of the cold war. Then, it expressed the overwhelming need of previously colonised and dis-empowered nations to a voice, a perspective and an agenda in a politically and economically unequal and inequitous world. Today, it remains a voice of reason and constructive engagement for the times ahead, which demand common purpose and contribution from all sides towards a convergence of intent on vital, even fateful, global concerns.
Since the signing of the UN Charter, the world should have changed far more than it has in the half century that has elapsed. Decolonisation is almost complete, but the scars of colonisation are still with us. The present bears a heavy burden of the past. South Africa is free, but racism rears its ugly head amidst us, often laced with xenophobia. Development and growth - and even human dignity - remains for much of the world a distant dream. We must insistently ask ourselves what we can decisively do at the United Nations to make the dreams of the hundreds of millions come true. How can we make the United Nations a more vibrant organisation for the world community as a whole, at a time when we need it more than we ever have, a United Nations that is better equipped to fully responding to the challenges of the next century?
As an organisation, the United Nations must also evolve and adapt itself to a rapidly changing environment, the better to serve the core aspirations of the world community. As a country which places very great store on the UN’s capacity to contribute to international peace and security, and to development, the two crucial priorities before the world community, India, as others, has a vital interest in a UN that continually makes itself more responsive to the needs of its member states, and prepares itself to serve the membership better. This, we believe, is the objective of reform. We are hence very pleased that the Secretary General, immediately after taking office, made reform one of his priorities and congratulate him for this commitment. Within the first seven months of his tenure, he has produced a series of proposals of impressive breadth and scope. These are before us, and many have described this session as a reform session in the General Assembly.
We judge the agenda for reform by the measure I have described. We will support those proposals that, in our view, will carry forward, or improve, the Secretariat’s ability to respond to the mandates of the international community. We will express our thoughts constructively with the aim of strengthening the process and direction of reform to the collective advantage of the world community and the organisation which represents it. We do not see reform simply as an exercise to trim the budget of the UN; instead, reforms should contribute towards a strengthened UN and its capacity to respond effectively to the priorities identified by the overwhelming majority of its membership.
The crisis that confronts the UN manifests itself in many ways. A financial crisis has resulted from the inability of some to fulfil their Charter commitments, and from the laying down of pre-conditions to meet them. The UN does not have the means to execute programmes that respond to the felt needs and priorities of its membership, precisely at a time when it is needed more than ever before; as a result, the UN is in danger of being marginalised as the global forum where decisions can be taken that truly respond to the challenges of globalisation. The solution lies not in piecemeal reform but in building trust between nations, and an acceptance that in international relations democratic principles should be the norm as much as it is increasingly accepted in national governance.
In our view, international peace and security and development are inextricably linked. The one is impossible to achieve without the other. Over the last six or seven years, there has been a growing emphasis on the political aspects of the task of development, such as democracy and human rights. Unless the underlying causes of underdevelopment, poverty and social alienation are effectively addressed and removed, this emphasis will remain misplaced. Therefore, the single most important target that the United Nations should set itself is the promotion of sustained economic growth in developing countries that will lead to the eradication of poverty, erase the tensions and pressures that have led to the collapse of governance and social order in several states, and to conflicts between others. International peace and stability will be enhanced only when all countries enjoy a minimum standard of economic self-sufficiency and well-being. Therefore, we believe that the thrust of any reform proposals in the UN should make the promotion of sustained economic development the principal cross-sectoral issue for the Secretariat’s programmes. We believe that there are enough inter-governmental mandates to permit the Secretariat to tailor programmes towards this end.
The universality of human rights, to which we all committed ourselves almost five years ago at Vienna, expresses itself at one level in the international norms for the promotion and protection of human rights and our collective efforts to foster respect for these standards. At a deeper plane, this universality stems from the search in different civilisations for ways of protecting the human dignity of every individual. Next year as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, we will ponder whether the ideals enshrined in the Declaration have become a reality for people in all parts of the world. As we do so, we must build confidence in a process that encourages introspection and self-criticism, dialogue and consultation rather than confrontation and condemnation. The Declaration calls for the "advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want as the highest aspiration of the common people." It recognises the importance of economic, social and cultural rights as well as their inter-dependence with civil and political rights. Full realisation of all these rights is what will give true meaning to the quest for human dignity embodied in the Universal Declaration.
India’s approach to the observance and promotion of human rights is inspired by the holistic vision of the Universal Declaration and the Indian Constitution both of which were drafted at almost the same time. A strong institutional framework, mutually reinforcing safeguards both within and outside this framework, a policy of transparency and responsiveness to NGOs and co-operation with the UN human rights system in particular the treaty bodies, are the main elements of this approach in the area of civil and political rights. Equally, if not more important are efforts to tackle poverty and underdevelopment, promote awareness of rights and a policy of affirmative action for the upliftment of socially and economically vulnerable sections of society. This is a complex task especially in a country of India’s diversity and many times when the State has faltered, civil society has stepped in. In India, as elsewhere, individuals have wrought miracles by working outside established systems and going beyond traditional modes of thinking. In recent times, the most befitting example that comes to mind is that of a frail, sari-clad woman - Mother Teresa - whose fathomless compassion and soothing touch would be missed by millions in India. I would like to pay tribute to this apostle of mercy who rendered service to millions of poor and suffering people not only in India but all over the world, and brought them hope.
While development must be our supreme objective, to get there we also need peace, stability and security. The dangers that threaten us have been, for the last fifty years, exponentially more frightening than any that have cast their shadow over mankind in its entire history. Development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons has made it possible for a country possessing these weapons to destroy whole populations. We have decided as an international community to outlaw the production, possession or use of chemical and biological weapons. However, on the weapons of mass destruction capable of total annihilation of human civilisation, the global community has lived for too long on a diet of empty promises. The pretexts for clinging to nuclear arsenals, which were questionable at any time, have now vanished. Mere non-proliferation treaties, promoted as disarmament measures, serve to entrench a nuclear monopoly. No credible steps towards striving to realise a nuclear weapon free world are contemplated, much less taken, by those who should be showing the way. The excuse of the cold war is over, and the patience of the world community - expressed through the International Court of Justice, enlightened voices from former believers of deterrence, political and general opinion and weighty voluntary initiatives - is starting to wear thin. Global opinion wants a Nuclear Weapons Convention, as already outlined for the class of biological and chemical weapons, and will not rest till it is achieved. We appeal to nuclear weapon states to align their policies to what the world wants. We see the United Nations as the forum in which the international community must continue to press for universal nuclear disarmament, and we expect therefore that the Secretariat’s programmes will support this inter-governmental objective.
Under the Charter, the Security Council was constituted as a body on which the general membership conferred primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, acting on its behalf. In recent years, the Security Council has been able to play a more active role in discharging its responsibilities. However, there is often a perception that the Council’s actions have not always reflected the sentiments of the general membership. It is imperative and time, therefore, that the Security Council take on as permanent members developing countries, equipped to make a powerful contribution and with their world views, historical experiences and civilisational values, so that the decisions of the Council truly reflect the UN’s wider membership. Otherwise, the Council’s actions will be seen as progressively less representative, precisely at a time when it is being called upon to act far more frequently than before on behalf of the world community.
India has let it be known from 1994, in this General Assembly, that it is prepared to accept the responsibilities of permanent membership. We are the largest democracy in the world, an ancient civilisation with our own distinctive world view, based on participative governance, tolerance and pluralism, as well as a readiness for constructive engagement in the world’s affairs. These qualities, we believe, would be an asset to an expanded Security Council. India’s position as one of the leading economies in the world is assured and we are prepared to bear the financial responsibilities that also accrue with permanent membership. India’s long-standing participation in UN peace-keeping operations testifies not only to the dedication and professionalism of the Indian soldiers but also the political will of the government to actively contribute to these operations.
At the core of our foreign policy is our keenness to pursue close ties, build confidence and co-operation with our neighbours, recognising fully that we are the largest country in the region, not only in terms of size and population, but also economic capabilities, we extend our hand of friendship not in a spirit of reciprocity but in good faith. Where we do expect reciprocity which is unrelated to size and capacity, is mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We seek to advance cohesion, synergy and mutual goodwill in our neighbourhood so that together we fully participate in and derive benefits from the dynamic changes the world is currently witnessing. Our approach has contributed to the setting in motion of a trend towards cooperation in our region.
As a large and diverse economy, we are developing new partnerships that go beyond the region and revitalise the old cultural and commercial links. Politically, it is expressed in the active interest that we have taken in supporting the Middle East peace process - our ties with the Arab world reaching deep into history - and our strong fraternal ties with developing countries in general and with Africa in particular. In our larger neighbourhood, with which we have a shared history, we have enhanced our engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a Full Dialogue Partner and as a participant in the ASEAN Regional Forum. While maintaining our traditional relationships with the United States, Russia, the European Union and Japan, we have, strengthening global trends in regional co-operation, also been actively promoting co-operation among countries of the Indian Ocean Rim and to recover the cultural and commercial connectivities that have existed since time immemorial and which were snapped in the colonial era.
The global society is seeking to find an equilibrium between the opposing pulls generated by the forces of globalisation, nationalism and sub-nationalism. Indeed, it is difficult to see just how they can be balanced, yet they must be or else the potential for international conflagration will be immense. Hence, the absolute need for extreme caution to prevent established nation states from being destabilised either through too hasty a push towards globalisation, or the pull of sub-national demands. We see this as a challenge which we will have to face in our collectivity as well as individually.
A global menace that threatens international peace, and to which open democracies are particularly vulnerable, is terrorism. It takes innocent lives indiscriminately, brings fear into the lives of others, and shatters the peaceful existence and the normal growth of entire communities. Terrorism should be anathema to the international community because it is the antithesis of every ideal that the UN Charter enshrines. Its main vehicle is violence, its aim is destruction rather than development, its doctrine is founded on intolerance, and in the means it uses and effect it has, it destroys human rights utterly. Incitement to terrorism, and complicity and participation in terrorism across borders, undermine the international system. And even though very few societies are free from its clutches, we still have not developed a global strategy to defeat this evil. The resolve is absent. It is important that we find it, not least because terrorism has a global web, spanning all countries and continents, and is quickly building links with the other global menace of drug. We, in India, see in our region just how deadly a poison this mix of terrorism and drugs is. The United Nations should take the lead in determined global action to root out these scourges.
Protection and preservation of the environment is an area to which all of us attach very great importance. The commitment for global partnership for preventing further degradation of the environment, made at the Rio Summit in 1992 was reiterated and the need for effective implementation of Agenda 21 reaffirmed, during the Special Session of the General Assembly in June this year. All the elements of Agenda 21 have to be implemented in full and we need to accelerate the process of such implementation. Any partial or non-comprehensive implementation will be detrimental not only to international cooperation in this area, but also to the threatened stability of the earth’s fragile environment. In this connection, it is our hope that the spirit of the Convention on Climate Change and the Berlin Mandate will be fully encompassed by the protocol or legal instrument to emerge from the Kyoto Conference to be held in December 1997.
What has been touched upon represents huge challenges, beyond the capacity of any country to face on its own. This is why it is so vital for the United Nations, now more than ever before, to be a forum where we can pool our creative ideas and lessons from our experience, and to assist us in understanding and coping with these challenges. This is the ultimate rationale of reform. We will be ready to work with other countries to rebuild the United Nations in the image of our collective aspirations and as our trusted instrument to meet the challenges of the approaching century.
Addressing the 15th regular session of the General Assembly, I recall India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, said in October 1960:
"The main purpose of the United Nations is to build up a world without war, a world based on the co-operation of nations and peoples. It is not merely a world where war is kept in check for a balancing of armed forces. It is much deeper than that. It is a world from which the major causes of war have been removed and social structures built up which further peaceful co-operation within a nation as well as between nations."
It is in this spirit that we should approach the tasks before us.
[52nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 24th September 1997]
Six years ago, I had the privilege of addressing the historic 45th session of this august Assembly. We rejoined at the end of the Cold War and believed that the animosities, rivalries, suspicious and intrigues that bedeviled the past would now be overcome, and the problems of the world and their solutions could be addressed with greater, perhaps global tensions and the opening p of new economic possibilities among nations. However, we cannot say that the new dawn has led to a new and genuinely cooperative web of kinship and cooperation. Regional conflicts and tensions continue to pre-occupy us. Problems of development remain acute and there is less sensitivity to the genuine needs of struggling nations. The voice of the rich and powerful nations rings louder than ever while the developing world feels itself more than ever marginalised and ignored.
In these circumstances, it is even more necessary to strive for a genuine spirit of joint international endeavour in addressing the world’s problems. The United Nations is the foremost embodiment of the multilateralism. No single nation or even group of nations today can expect to find solutions to the world’s problems. Nor are many problems amenable to solutions in isolation. Global problems require global institutions and global solutions. This role and duty can only fall on the United Nations.
We are concerned at unilateral actions and at the evident decline in the commitment to obligations under the Charter of the United Nations, International cooperation is necessary to meet the vast development needs of the developing countries, to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and to fight terrorism and crime. The United Nations system, where sovereign nations have joined together to achieve their common objectives, is the universal framework for international cooperation. The Charter of the United Nations offers the real basis for renewing multilateralism. India recently joined 15 other Heads of States and Governments in starting that her nations move forward to strengthen (multilateralism) or we risk having to face more unilateralism and perhaps conflict and overt disregard of international law and common values".
The UN is at a crossroads. The financial crisis of the UN is the result of an unwarranted unwillingness on the part of certain countries to pay their dues in full and on time. Such deliberate targeting of the UN represents the most acute threat to multilateral cooperation and can do incalculable long-term damage.
Beyond the financial crisis of the UN itself is he critical issue of financing global cooperation. While the world remains confronted with enormous problems of poverty, malnutrition, disease, ecological degradation and waste, the will to contribute is on the decline. Development assistance is at the lowest level for decades. Negotiated replenishments of multilateral development funds are not being honoured.
It is unfortunate that voices continue to be raised questioning the role of the United Nations in economic growth and economic development of developing countries. It is necessary to restore to the United Nations, in the coming century, the important role of eradicating poverty and all the ills associated with hit, for promotion development and for achieving social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom for all.
For this purpose, the multilateral economic system needs to be reformed and the partnership of the United Nations with other relevant institutions strengthened for achieving greater economic growth and integration and sustainable development. The United Nations and the Bretton Woods Institutions need to develop and effective partnership. While India welcomes the initial, tentative steps towards such a partnership, effective economic leadership requires that we work to ensure a much closer relationship between global economic institutions than has been the case so far. Indeed, there is no other alternative if the financing of long-term global cooperation in economic and social fields is to be assured. We need larger volumes of financial assistance, greater predictability of resources and unfettered access to the markets of developed countries. It is also time that we energize our efforts to complete the Agenda for Development and launch an effective follow up process including in he context of the recent major UN conferences.
India is unreservedly committed to protection and promotion of human rights. The profoundly humanistic traditions of the India civilization, with its emphasis on tolerance, harmony, non-violence and the inviolability of the individual have been consolidated in the Constitution of free India, which is indeed a veritable bill of human rights. All human rights are sacrosanct in India, guaranteed by its Constitution, an independent judiciary, a free press, public opinion vigorously expressed and the independent National Human Rights Commission.
We believe that international cooperation in the protection and promotion of human rights should with the framework of respect of he sovereignty and integrity of states. We deplore the selective use of human rights issue for exerting political pressure or as an obstacle to trade or as a condition for development assistance. Such actions reduce the moral imperatives of human rights promotion and impede the full realization of the human rights of all.
Violation of human rights take many forms, amongst the most pernicious of them is terrorism. Terrorism seeks to exploit the openness and freedom offered by democratic societies to pursue narrow ends through use of violence. It has to be combated by firm action of national and international level. We are dismayed when we encounter vocal concern for the so-called rights of terrorists while ignoring their persistent violation of the human rights of their victims, including rights to life, freedom of expression, freedom to follow religious beliefs of one’s own choice, amongst others.
India took the lead in raising the issue of terrorism as a threat to human rights almost five years ago. We are happy to note that despite initial and sometime vocal opposition by some Western countries, terrorism is now accepted as the most important threat to enjoyment of human rights today. A number of international declarations have been issued on terrorism such as the Sharm Al-Sheikh Declaration and the G-7 Lyons Declaration on June 27, 1996. We are encouraged that the international community now recognizes terrorism as a major challenge to democracy, human rights and peace. In this context, Mr. President, India will pursue its call to adopt a binding international convention to combat terrorism.
Fifty years after the United Nations was established, the threat to humanity posed by nuclear weapons continues unabated. We believe that India’s security, as indeed of all countries, lies in a nuclear weapon-free world.
The only way to achieve this ultimate security is to ban production, possession and use of nuclear weapons within an agreed framework. Partial and half-hearted measures of arms control, such as NPT or CTBT, defeat this objective, by legitimising possession of nuclear weapons and permitting non-explosive testing of nuclear weapons by nuclear weapon countries. India, therefore, cannot be a party to such flawed arrangements.
Let me also emphasise that any effective disarmament regime needs to be universal in its approach and scope. The total elimination of all existing nuclear weapons, as an indispensable step towards general and complete disarmament under strict and efficient international control is the demand of the entire Non-Aligned Movement, to which we fully subscribe. Partial or regional approaches as are sometimes put forward do not serve any useful purpose and can distract us from this accepted goal.
At the same time, India remains committed to participating fully and actively in any negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, and all types of tests just as it did in regard to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
India has signed and deposited its instrument of ratification of CWC two weeks ago. India regrets that major chemical weapon producers have been slow to ratify the Convention. We urge all those countries who have still not done so to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention and demonstrate their readiness to move towards banning all weapons of mass destruction.
India will work with all like-minded countries in co-sponsoring a resolution on the establishment of an Ad-Hoc Committee under the Conference on Disarmament for beginning negotiation on a treaty banning nuclear weapons in a timebound framework. India expects all countries, including those represented in the Canberra Commission, who support time-bound elimination of nuclear weapons, to join in supporting the resolution.
India will present, once again, the Convention on non-use of nuclear weapons at this Session of the UN General Assembly. India believes that the urgency of negotiating that Convention has been greatly enhanced by the advisory opinion of the International Curt of Justice regarding the illegality of the use of nuclear weapons.
At the recently concluded session of the Conference on Disarmament, India joined 27 Non-Aligned and neutral countries to present a phased programme for elimination of nuclear weapons by the year 2020. India asks that all countries join us in propagating and promoting this joint proposal, both at the 51st General Assembly session and at other fora.
India is in favour of a non-discriminatory and universal ban on anti-personnel mines, which cripple or kill large number of civilians.
The continued credibility of the United Nations requires the reform of the Organisation to reflect present day realities. While the membership of the UN has increased greatly, the voice of the newly sovereign in decision-making in the UN remains unheard. There is an imbalance in the authority and weight of structures and organs, just as there is an imbalance in the weight of different countries or groups. There is a need to affirm the role and authority of the General Assembly, the sole universal organ of the UN, so that its voice finds greater resonance in other bodies of the system.
The Security Council must be made more representative in order to enhance its legitimacy and effectiveness. The vast increase in the membership of the UN since its founding, especially of the developing countries, must find adequate representation in permanent as well as non-permanent members category. A comprehensive proposal by the Non-Aligned Movement for the reform and restructuring of the Security Council is already on the table. India supports expansion of both permanent and non-permanent categories. We are against piece-meal or temporary solutions which discriminate against developing countries. We believe that the same yardstick must be applied to all countries, developed or developing, from all regions or groups, for induction as permanent members. We believe under any objectively derived criteria for the expansion of permanent members, India would be the obvious candidate.
Reform and expansion must be an integral part of a common package. The restructuring of the Security Council must give expression to the impulse for reform. The reforms must address not only the failings of the past, but also the needs of the future.
Peace-keeping is a significant area of the UN’s activities, very often the most visible symbol of the UN’s presence on the ground. India has participated in over 25 peacekeeping operations in 4 continents, including some of the most sensitive and prolonged, starting with Korea in 1953-54 and including the operations in Vietnam, Congo, the Middle East, Cambodia, Haiti, Somalia, El Salvador, Mozambique and Rwanda. Indian peace-keepers are currently in the field in Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liberia and Kuwait. Our participation has not been without cost. We have lost nearly 100 peacekeepers to the cause of the United Nations. We have also offered a fully equipped brigade to the UN Standby Arrangement. The performance of the Indian troops has won universal recognition. India is one of the few countries which can sustain large scale troop commitment over prolonged periods.
Our participation in UN peacekeeping does not stem from considerations of narrow gain. We have participated because we have been wanted, because e have been asked, but most of all because of our solidarity and empathy with the affected country and with the affected country and with the international community, and our commitment to the United Nations and to the cause of international peace and security.
India has offered its candidature for the non-permanent seat on the Security Council from Asia for 1997-98. Our candidature is rooted in the criteria stipulated in the Charter, and principle of equity, our unwavering commitment to the UN, to the cause of multilateralism, and our fifty year long contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes and principles of the UN. India has an unique record of supporting UN’s activities against apartheid and colonialism. We have richly contributed t he debates on development disarmament and human rights. We seek the onerous responsibility of Council membership convinced of the support of this august Assembly.
I would like to take this opportunity of paying warm tribute to His Excellency, Mr. Boutros-Boutros Ghali, our eminent Secretary-General, for his successful stewardship during the most difficult period. His services are distinct asset to this world body.
I would briefly refer to India’s reaction with the world. We have witnessed some remarkable changes in the last few years. Now vistas for greater cooperation are now visible. The challenge lies in effectively seizing the opportunities.
We attach the highest importance to developing cordial and friendly relations with our neighbours with a view to promoting peace, stability, mutual confidence in the region. We also seek to develop stronger economic and commercial relations within the region, for all round prosperity. As current Chairman of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), it would be our endeavour to promote multi-faceted cooperation in all spheres.
The economic reforms embarked upon since 1991 have provided India with a new outward orientation that seeks greater integration of India into the global marketplace. Today, India is branching out and adding to the substantive content of its relations with individual countries of the region and beyond, developing an building upon regional cooperation arrangements involving SAARC, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) the organisation for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Indian Ocean Rim, to name a few.
Convinced of the need and utility of enhanced South-South cooperation, we accord the highest priority to our relations with Africa, Middle East and Central Asia. We are proud to be associated with Africa and its causes in the UN, since the inception of the world body. We appreciate the role played by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which has striven to find regional solutions to African problems. Its efforts must be supplemented by the UN. The scramble for Africa in the 19th century was for African land and resources. We hose that the closing years of this century will see a scramble to redress African problems, the genesis of which largely lies outside the region. The UN must lead the international effort to meet Africa’s needs and aspirations.
Mr. President, we are deeply concerned at the recent serious incidents of violence in the West Bank and Gaza caused by the action of the Israeli authorities of opening a tunnel beneath Al-Haram-al-Sharif (the Temple Mount) in East Jerusalem. This has resulted in the tragic loss of several innocent lives and large scale injuries following violent clashes. The current situation underlines the need for immediate and effective measures to end the violence and create a climate which would enable purposeful negotiations based on a recognition of the underlying causes of the conflict. These developments also serve to emphasize the necessity of building further on the agreements and understanding already reached.
Following the recent political changes in the Middle East, India has been encouraged by the reiteration by all parties of their continued commitment to the Middle East peace process based on framework established by the Madrid Peace Conference. However, we are concerned that these re-affirmations do not appear to have manifested themselves in commensurate progress in the peace process. India would urge all parties to intensify their efforts towards realising the mutually agreed objective of the Middle East Peace Process, keeping in view that durable peace and stability in the Middle East requires solving the Palestinian issue.
India has ties dating back to early historical time with Afghanistan, a country with which we also share ties of kinship, culture and religion. We are deeply saddened by he continued violence and loss of life in that country. India stands for the unity, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. We urge all Afghan parties to resolve their differences through early peaceful dialogue and negotiations. We support the efforts of the Secretary General and his Special Representative to bring about a solution in Afghanistan.
The Non-Aligned Movement figures firmly in India’s world view and constitutes an important plank in our foreign policy. We remain firmly committed to the philosophy and values of the Non-Aligned Movement. For us, Non-Alignment means independence of thought and autonomy of choice. It also means working in cooperation with the largest number of countries. Last year’s Non-Aligned Summit in Colombia reinforced our faith in the ability and resilience of the Movement, its responsiveness to change and its effectiveness in today’s global situation. India will be privileged to host the next ministerial conference of the Non-Aligned countries in New Delhi in 1997.
India is a progressive country charting a balanced path between economic growth and social justice, and science and tradition, committed to the values of peace, non-violence, co-existence, pluralism, tolerance and constructive cooperation. Culturally, India is a bridge between traditional cultures and emergent trends. Politically, India will remain anchored in a pluralist, liberal democracy that can provide space for all its constituents and external interlocutors.
Before I conclude, I am reminded of an ancient Rig Vedic hymn which reads:
citizens of the world!
May this invocation to harmony, cooperation, consensus and solidarity continue to guide our deliberations and actions.
[51st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York; 4th October 1996]
The theme of this conference represents one of the key issues of times, indeed of our civilization. Civilization is not a passing phenomenon but a continuum. Great social and economic movements and forces, even as they flow and ebb, leave an imprint on our civilization. Globalisation is one such force that is having a defining influence on our civilization as we make a transition to the next millennium.
We are yet to develop a coherent perspective on globalisation, let alone pass a final judgement on it. There are many perceptions about it and what it means in an enduring sense, not only for our civilization as a whole, but also for the integrity of developing countries and the economic and social well-being of their peoples.
To the layman, globalisation conjures up different images. Some see it as a new form of imperialism, an imposition of a new economic, political and social system on the world. Others see in it the natural culmination of the process of international trade that expanded from the 16th century onwards. This got substantiated in later centuries as the world moved from an agrarian to an industrial and commercial and then the technological society of the 20th century,
Globalisation is often identified as part of the post-Cold War ideology. It is indeed remarkable how the ideology of the free market and the reality of the Western technology-led international trade and investment flows are moving hand in hand to make globalisation happen. On the other hand, it is clear that globalisation has also created a dilemma on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. Why else would they be trying to set up barricades against competitive imports from the developing countries ? There is, therefore, an element of "my globalisation is good for you but yours is not good for me", in the attitude of countries and societies across the globe.
Globalisation, along with its twin, liberalisation, is regarded as a spontaneous process. Yet it seems to be driven and regulated by powerful governments and big corporations. It is projected as expanding the area of civil liberties, increasing the choices available to us and freeing entrepreneurial energies. Yet, we hear voices complaining about the tyranny of globalisation and how it seeks to impose cultural hegemony and diminish a country’s, a community’s or an individual’s room for manoeuver. Deregulation and decentralisation, as well as people-centred development, are much vaunted aspects of globalisation. Yet globalisation is often suspected of restricting local initiative. Is globalisation empowerment for all, however small the player, or is it about letting the big become bigger and monopolize the market power in the name of economies of scale and competition?
I feel that the crucial question is whether there is a choice for or against globalisation. If not, how do developing countries ensure that they emerge winners and not losers by participating in this process? There is also the question of values. What values does globalisation represent and inculcate - of self-centered materialism or of benevolent and compassionate humanism? Is globalisation a one-way street for the carriage of ideas and technologies from the Western hemisphere to the East or is it, as our Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Japanese friends have postulated, the turn of the East to "teach and not only learn" and leave their own imprint on the process. I, personally, am emboldened enough by the recent successes in developing countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa to think that developing countries need not be at the receiving end of globalisation. They can convey their own message by using the very channels of globalisation that were first used by the West to enter their societies.
I have no doubt that your deliberations here will offer answers and solutions to these profound questions and demystify a phenomenon that permeates all aspects of our life. Let me venture some thoughts on the extent, content and impact of globalisation from the perspective of developing countries.
What is important from our perspective is the pace, depth, extent and complexity of cross-border economic linkages. These are linking national economic activity to the global system of processes and transactions. The infotech revolutions connect everything and everybody in the global market, and are not hampered by national borders. Consequently, new countries and regions, including even large, relatively self-contained developing countries like China, India and Brazil, are being brought within the ambit of this process. The invasion of the air waves and satellite broadcasting have become both an agent and a manifestation of the changes brought by globalisation even in countries with ancient civilizations and traditions. In all developing countries, to a greater or lesser extent, we see the tumult produced by the conflict between a newly awakened sensibility of the market culture and a consciousness of their heritage.
Unfortunately, we have not seen a globalisation of prosperity, of enlightenment, or of well-being, even though unprecedented advances have been recorded in this respect in the last two decades. Disparities among and within countries have grown unrelentingly even as large sections of populations have been taken out of poverty and have tasted the fruits of progress. Many developing countries and people in them have either remained isolated from this process or become more marginalised. Furthermore, new stresses and strains have come up as developing countries try to adjust to the changes induced by globalisation. This is most evident in respect of employment and labour markets, in production and income patterns, and in rural to urban shifts. Even as we see success stories of how a small entrepreneur or a small country becomes a global force, the vulnerability of small farmers, enterprises and workers is revealed when faced with the cost cutting competitiveness of bigger entities and market players.
The unprecedented mobility of goods, capital, services, technology, people and ideas has intensified global interdependence which, in a different sense, was talked about in treatises on the development dialogue in the last four decades. The Pearson Commission Report, the Brandt Commission Report, the Stockholm Initiative or even the latest Report on Global Governance progressively become more insistent in their affirmation of increasing interdependence, common interest and mutual benefit among developed and developing countries. Yet, it is ironical that there is a progressive erosion of commitment to development cooperation and in the determination to do something purposeful towards a benign global atmosphere.
It can be said that globalisation needs to be managed in the same way as good governments and corporations manage their affairs. Fair and equitable rules made with broad-based participation need to be laid down, and equally applied. There needs to be accountability. The comparative advantage and strength of all actors in the global society need to be given full play.
The objective of the effective management of globalisation by national governments, developed and developing, and of international trade, monetary, financial and information systems should be to increasingly create a common and equal stake for all. Developing countries are increasingly contributing to the world economy and have painstakingly sought to integrate themselves with it. The success of globalisation depends on the extent to which these countries progressively become part of the evolving system and gain in equal measure. They must also become locomotives of growth in their own right, as some happily have, rather than just being hitched to others which are themselves seeking new sources of demand growth and economic vitality.
Developing countries must also adopt a courageous and confident profile towards globalisation. We must not be cowed down by it, but be in the forefront of making use of the new tools provided by information technology to create a niche for ourselves in the global economy. We must also use them creatively to solve our age-old problems of poverty, illiteracy, shelter and health care. Indeed, globalisation has opened up the potential for developing countries to acquire attributes of what is being widely referred to as "soft power" - the ability to achieve desired outcomes in international affairs through the attraction of their markets, manpower and natural resources, technological and institutional resilience and the agility of their entrepreneurs. Thus, even as we open up our economies to the world, our domestic economic operators must be given greater freedom to scan global opportunities so that they too can be among those that lead the process rather than those that merely follow it. In this context, the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) and G-7 must focus on how developing countries can increasingly become part of the globalisation process and win their place in the sun.
Developing countries today find themselves in a situation where areas of domestic action have been placed under global scrutiny or even control, sometimes disproportionately so. This is the refrain one hears about the World Trade Organisation (WTO), not only in India, but also in many other developing countries. What is most surprising is that some of the most powerful trading nations of the world also speak the language of sovereignty when it suits them. The fact is that globalisation implies all-round diminution of sovereignty in some way or another and though the resistance to this is natural, it will be easier for all concerned if there is equitable burden sharing by all according to their capacity. Equity, democracy, enlightened self-interest and balance should be the guiding principles of globalisation. I refuse to believe that any process, however, powerful is predetermined and beyond the ken of human management and control.
I would urge you to ponder on how we can use the forces of globalisation to bring about a positive synthesis between what are sometimes seen as mutually exclusive attributes and goals. These are :
Blending these factors harmoniously so that everyone gains, nationally and internationally, in the short and the long term is the biggest challenge of globalisation. It must act as the concrete foil to the idea of the world as one family- vasudhaiva kutumbakam- and the welfare - abhyudaya - of all its peoples.
I do hope that you will look at all these aspects and implications of globalisation for developing countries in the same spirit of inquiry and intellectual rigour which Mahatma Gandhi described so aptly: "An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody will see it."
Let this most significant phenomenon of our times be examined without any dogmatism. Instead, let it be examined with an openness of mind that admits of both truth and error and provides a vision of optimism about our common future on this planet.
|Essential Tenets||Bilateral Dialogue||Regional Cooperation||Contemporary Challenges|
Mr. Inder Kr. Gujral
Mrs. Shiela Gujral
Excerpts from the book "A Foreign Policy for India"