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EAM's Remarks at Alliance for Multilateral Meeting

September 28, 2020

Co-chairs, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

When this Alliance first convened last year, we signalled multilateralism matters. This year drove the point home firmly. The Coronavirus pandemic reaffirmed the centrality of multilateralism in our interconnected world—not just in war and peace, but also for international governance.

The past six months laid bare the shortcomings of multilateral institutions. In the UN, we could not even agree to messaging on fighting the virus, let alone coordinate responses. This reflects a larger systemic failure. Clearly the multilateral machinery is exhausted, if not broken. The cry for reformed multilateralism becomes stronger than ever before.

What can India do to make the world a better place in this situation? For a start the answer is building back, and building stronger, after this pandemic. We must create new capacities, make a greater contribution, even as we advocate a fairer process of global decision making. This is precisely what is underway in India.

As supply-chains snapped and the world stopped, Prime Minister Modi has issued a call fora ‘Aatma-Nirbhar Bharat’ (Self-Reliant India). That fully reflected our civilizational ethos of caring for all creation. Today, our goal is not just to rebuild, but making growth environmentally and socially sustainable. Our commitment to the goal of Paris remains firm. This includes amongst others phasing-out single-use plastic. It covers access to potable water, through our Jal-Jeevan (Water For Life) Scheme, which will create 190 mn rural water connections. This will be as transformative as the UJALA (or Brightness) scheme, which helped us record a 130-fold increase in our LED market in five years. Through this, we save 30 Terrawatt-hours of energy per year. And it means greener and smarter recovery efforts.

Through this crisis, India built upon digitization and adoption of fintech platforms in the making since 2014. We launched the world’s largest direct cash transfer scheme, covering more than 80 mn citizens. We used our ecosystem of mobile usage and affordable data to drive the world’s largest contact tracing effort, as 150 mn people downloaded AarogyaSetu, our contact-tracing app.


In the true multilateral spirit, these are experiences and resources that India will share with others. Our approach is to develop solidarity within and outside our borders. During this pandemic, we extended medical aid, personnel and training to 150 countries. Our flights of returning nationals carried our neighbours. Our financial support extends to them as well. Where vaccines are concerned India will make its due contribution. We seek today to build upon a range of multilateral responses to global challenges. The International Solar Alliance is extraordinarily good example. Since 2015, this 87 signatory-alliance is propelling Earth to a low-carbon growth trajectory. Similarly, the Coalition for Disaster-Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) aims at a climate-change and disaster-resilient future for all. Multilateralism if it is to grow, must be not just generous but creative plus practical as well. My message to this conference is: lead by example.


Humankind responds to adversity by adapting to find new pathways. Adaptation is based on reimagining, reinventing and rebuilding, but most of all, reform. Meaningful reform requires us to re-imagine multilateralism, especially in this 75th year of the United Nations.


Thank you.
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