NEW DELHI: Raising the pitch for UN Security Council reforms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asked 54 African nations to join India in demanding an overhaul of the global body to make it more "democratic, inclusive and representative" of the current world.
He said the present day world is facing challenges like terrorism and climate change which did not exist when the UN was founded 70 years back and the global body runs the risk of losing relevance if it does not adapt to the new systems in the world.
"...India advocates reforms in global political, economic and security institutions," Modi said while interacting with editors from African nations here while replying to a question on New Delhi's quest for UN reforms.
"They (global bodies) must become more democratic, inclusive and representative of our world. No institution will have that character today, if it does not give voice to Africa or the world's largest democracy, constituting one-sixth of humanity. That is why we ask for reforms of the United Nations Security Council and global financial institutions," he said.
Modi, who was talking to the journalists ahead of the India-Africa Forum Summit, said, "India and Africa, constituting one-third of the global population must continue to speak in one voice for these reforms."
Noting that UN now has four times the member countries than it had at its inception, the Prime Minister said, "The world is undergoing political, economic and technological transition on a scale rarely seen in recent history."
Talking about the greater awareness now and the new challenges like terrorism and climate change that the present world faces, he said, "If global institutions and systems do not adapt, they will risk irrelevance."
Modi said the global order, its institutions and mindsets continue to reflect the circumstances that existed at the end of the last World War.
"These institutions have served us well, but they must be reformed in order to remain effective and relevant in the new era. We might have a more fragmented world and our collective ability to deal with the challenges and changes of our era will also be weakened," he said.
Talking about cooperation with Africa, the Prime Minister refused to bracket India with China, saying, "This is a relationship that is beyond strategic considerations. It is a relationship with a strong emotional link forged by the intersecting history and centuries-old ties of kinship. "Our relationship with Africa is unique and does not need any point of reference," he noted.
Viewing the upcoming third India-Africa Forum Summit as crucial, he expressed confidence that it will bring "freshness" to the relation and take it to new heights.
Modi said he saw enormous opportunities for trade and investment ties between India and Africa. "As both India and Africa emerge as the new frontiers of opportunities in the 21st century, I am looking forward to the third India-Africa Forum Summit to explore with African leaders how we can further expand our economic partnership and also work to shape a more favourable global economic environment and institutional framework," he said.
"Africa's development is a huge opportunity for India, just as Africa's resources, including oil, power India's economic growth and create wealth and jobs in Africa. The continent's progress will add great stability and momentum to the global economy and benefit India as well," he added. He said India will always work in accordance with the requirements and priorities of friends in Africa.
"We will also work together to harness opportunities and possibilities created by new technology and address emerging challenges like climate change. The road map for the future will reflect our shared vision and goals, and our respective strengths and capabilities," he added.
"Our areas of focus will continue to be on human resource development, institution building, infrastructure, clean energy, agriculture, health, education and skill development," Modi said. "We will also work together on addressing climate change and sustainable development of blue economy (an economy that balances environmental stability with economic and social development)," the leader added.
The Prime Minister also had an informal interaction with Trade ministers from the African countries. The Ministers are here for the 4th India-Africa Trade Ministers' meeting which was held today. Minister of State for Commerce and Industry (Independent Charge) Nirmala Sitharaman was also present on the occasion.
"We will certainly raise our partnership to a much higher level in the years ahead. We will also make our partnership more effective, based on a comprehensive review of our development partnership programme with Africa, particularly in terms of capacity building, infrastructure support and technology sharing, and discussions with our African partners," Modi told the African journalists.
Contending that development goals and international aspirations of India and Africa are closely aligned, Modi said this will be the foundation as the two sides hope to set substantially "higher and ambitious targets" for the development partnership during the upcoming Summit.
"We also aim to make it more effective, drawing upon our experience over the past decade. As in the past, our primary aim is to support our African partners in their efforts to accelerate the momentum of their development.
"We will also address key challenges of our times, including food, health and environmental security. We will create conditions that stimulate trade and investment flows between our countries," the Prime Minister said.
Modi also vouched for using the "power of science and technology, space science and the networked world to transform lives".
"This is not a one-way street. We hope to learn a great deal from numerous African success stories in all walks of life," he added.