Paris, April 12:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for India to be given a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, saying that it is not asking for it as a favour but as a “right” – having sacrificed the lives of 75,000 soldiers in World War I, being the largest contributor to the UN Peacekeeping Mission, and being a land of the Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi.
Addressing an enthusiastic civic reception by the Indian community in the French capital on Saturday evening, Modi said: “I appeal to the world that in the year that the world is observing the centenary of WWI, it is the time to give the ‘haq’ (right) to the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Buddha. The time is over when India would ask for a favour; today India is asking for its rights,” he said to loud cheers from the packed audience.
“India is a country that is for peace, and helps bring peace to the world, and yet we are struggling to get a seat in the UNSC,” Modi said at the Carrousel du Louvre here in his final engagement of his two-day visit to France where India tactically appeared to have raised the pitch from soliciting support from other countries to demanding what it thinks is its right to be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the high table of nations.
Modi said that 2015 is the centenary year of World War I, and India gave 1.4 million soldiers to fight in a war that was not its, and lost 75,000 men. He said 11 of them won the Victoria Cross for their valour.
“I went to get blessings from them,” he said, referring to his visit to the Neuve Chapelle earlier in the day to pay tribute to the thousands of Indians who were killed in the WWI.
“I want to give the message to world, that they should view India differently; that this is a country that makes sacrifice not just for itself but for others,” he said.
He said India is the largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping forces in conflict situations around the world and the Indian soldiers are known for their discipline, valour, intelligence. India is the largest contributor to UN peacekeeping missions with 8,000 personnel, deployed in 10 of the 16 countries where the UN peacekeeping operations are on.
Modi had during his speech at the UN General Assembly in September last year raised the issue of India’s bid for a permanent seat on the Council.
US President Barack Obama reiterated the US’ support for India’s membership of a reformed UN Security Council on April 10, while French President Francois Hollande during his meeting with Modi on Friday also voiced his country’s support for India’s membership. (IANS)