As speeches go Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s intervention at the United Nations (UN) today was sterling, coming as it does just comes hours before the US Presidential debate to kicks off.
There was scale. India is one sixth of humanity i.e. every sixth human being on earth is an Indian and the country is the world’s largest democracy. That set the tone or rather framed destructive nations as different from constructive ones.
There was substance. The Indian Foreign Minister spoke of New Delhi signing the Climate Convention on October 2nd, she saluted the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) handsomely as timely and required. She listed India’s contribution to reaching the goals by highlighting the Swach Bharat and the Beti Bachao, Beto Padhao initiatives, invited investors to join India in Make in India and referred to public health and gender equality. She then called for the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to rise to the challenge of reflecting today’s world and challenges by expanding the UN Security Council from its current status of five permanent members to include other powers.
Then she struck. Initially by knitting acts of terror across the world starting with 9/11 in New York and ending with Bangladesh, Pathankot, Uri and the recent act again in New York without naming any country in general but highlighting terrorist acts from which no country was safe. She called upon the world community to isolate countries that give birth to, nurture and spread terrorism and also called out – not by name – countries that support terror-spreading and terror-inflicting nations as co-responsible.
She spoke about Balochistan thus completing the UN circle which began two weeks ago when India raised the plight of the Baloch people at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, the European Headquarters of the world body. On August 15th Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian in that office to raise the issue of human rights violations in Pakistan's western province thus opening any entirely new direction on India's foreign policy in the region and by extension, globally.
Then she called out Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by name. She said India has received acts of terror in response to its repeated overtures for peace. Sometimes less is more. This was one such occasion. Sharp, subtle, succinct and successful, she left the stage with the grace and dignity that accompanies the responsibility of over 1.2 billion people. She addressed the world body in Hindi.