S Jaishankar’s speech at the UN General Assembly might reignite the buzz that the Central government is considering to replace the word India with Bharat in the Constitution which had sparked off a huge row earlier this month.
Two mentions of ‘Bharat’ opened and ended Foreign Minister S Jaishankar’s United Nations General Assembly speech this evening. “Namaste from Bharat,” was how he greeted the assembly and while signing off, he said, “It is this fusion (tradition and technology) that today defines India, that is Bharat”.
His speech might reignite the buzz that the Central government is considering to replace the word India with Bharat in the Constitution which had sparked off a huge row earlier this month.
S Jaishankar addressed the UN General Assembly session from the iconic green podium, beginning his over 17-minute speech with folded hands and a “Namaste from Bharat”.
“As a civilisational polity that embraces modernity, we bring both tradition and technology equally confidently to the table. It is this fusion that today defines India, that is Bharat,” Jaishankar said, concluding his speech.
The controversy around India versus Bharat was triggered after the invitation for the G20 dinner was sent out in the name of the President of ‘Bharat’ and not India. Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had posted on ‘X’, formerly Twitter, a picture of the dinner invite to him from the President and wrote a few lines from the national anthem.
Even the nameplate in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he opened the G20 Summit read “Bharat”.
The G20 booklet meant for foreign delegates was also titled – “Bharat, The Mother Of Democracy”. “Bharat is the official name of the country. It is mentioned in the Constitution as also in the discussions of 1946-48,” the booklet said.
Opposition parties allege that the government was resorting to “drama” just because they got together and called their bloc as INDIA.
Mr Jaishankar had earlier taken a veiled dig at the Opposition over the issue and said, “India that is Bharat, it is there in the Constitution. Please, I would invite everybody to read it.”
“Look when you say Bharat in a sense, a meaning and understanding and a connotation that comes with it and that is reflected in our Constitution as well,” he added.
This is an occasion to take stock of our achievements and challenges even while sharing our aspirations and goals. And indeed, in regard to both, there is much that India has to share.
Mr. President, the world is witnessing an exceptional period of turmoil. As it is, structural inequities and uneven development have imposed burdens on the Global South. But stresses have been aggravated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the repercussions of ongoing conflicts, tensions and disputes. As a result, socio-economic gains of recent years have been rolled back.
Resources for sustainable development are severely challenged. And many countries really struggle to make ends meet. Navigating the future appears even more daunting today.
At this juncture, it was with a sense of exceptional responsibility that India took up the Presidency of the G20. Our vision of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ sought to focus on the key concerns of the many, not just the narrow interests of a few.
In the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it was to bridge divides, dismantle barriers and sow seeds of collaboration that nourish a world, where unity prevails over discord and where shared destiny eclipses isolation. The New Delhi G-20 Leaders’ Declaration articulates our collective ability to do so.
Excellencies, Friends, at a time when East-West polarization is so sharp and North-South divide so deep, the New Delhi Summit also affirms that diplomacy and dialogue are the only effective solutions. The international order is diverse and we must cater for divergences, if not differences. The days when a few nations set the agenda and expected others to fall in line are over.
As the United Nations itself symbolizes, finding common ground is an imperative. To listen to others and to respect their viewpoints, this is not weakness; it is the basics of cooperation. Only then can collective efforts on global issues be successful.
Recognizing that growth and development must focus on the most vulnerable, we began the G20 Presidency by convening the ‘Voice of the Global South’ Summit. This enabled us to hear directly from 125 nations and place their concerns on the G20 agenda.
As a consequence, the issues which deserve global attention got a fair hearing. More than that, the deliberations produced outcomes that have great significance for the international community.
Mr. President, it was also noteworthy that at India’s initiative, the African Union was admitted as a permanent member of the G20. By doing so, we gave voice to an entire continent which has long been its due.
This significant step in reform should inspire the United Nations, a much older organization, to also make the Security Council contemporary. Broad representation is, after all, a pre-requisite for both effectiveness and credibility.
The outcomes of the New Delhi G20 Summit will surely resonate for years ahead. Among them is the Action Plan for Sustainable Development Goals, a crucial need of the day. Equally important are the High Principles of LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) and the Green Development Pact, as they shape our approach to our planet’s future.
The transformative role of Digital Public Infrastructure has also finally been recognized. As has the salience of women-led development in building an inclusive and progressive society. The reform of international financial institutions (IFI) has been given due weight, as has the resolution of debt vulnerabilities.
Friends, the New Delhi G20 outcomes are expressed both as larger policies and as specific initiatives. They could be about building cities for tomorrow or fighting corruption. Eliminating hunger or delivering quality education. Ending plastic pollution or preserving the ocean-based economy. Or for that matter, enhancing food security or even mapping global skills.
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