The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi addressed the G20 Development Ministers’ Meeting today via video message.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister welcomed everyone to Varanasi, the oldest living city of the mother of democracy. Highlighting the significance of Kashi, the Prime Minister said that it has been the center of knowledge, discussion, debate, culture, and spirituality for centuries while it also has the essence of India’s diverse heritage serving as a convergence point for people from all parts of the country. Shri Modi expressed delight that the G20 Development agenda has reached Kashi as well.
“Development is a core issue for the Global South”, the Prime Minister remarked as he pointed out that the countries of the Global South were severely impacted by the disruptions created due to the global Covid pandemic while geo-political tensions were responsible for food, fuel, and fertilizer crises. In such circumstances, the Prime Minister continued, the decisions you make are significant for humanity as a whole. Shri Modi emphasized that it is the collective responsibility of the people to not let the Sustainable Development Goals fall behind. He further added that the Global South must send a strong message to the world about the action plan required to achieve this.
The Prime Minister underlined that our efforts must be comprehensive, inclusive, fair, and sustainable, and attempts should be made to increase investment in fulfilling the SDGs and also finding solutions to address the debt risks faced by many countries. The Prime Minister remarked that multilateral financial institutions should be reformed to expand the eligibility criteria to ensure that finance is accessible to those in need. In India, the Prime Minister continued, we have made efforts to improve people’s lives in more than a hundred Aspirational Districts which were pockets of under-development. He underscored that these Aspirational Districts have now emerged as the catalysts of growth in the country as he urged the G20 Development Ministers to study this model of development. “It may be relevant as you work towards accelerating Agenda 2030”, he added.
Highlighting the issue of the growing data divide, the Prime Minister said that high-quality data is critical for meaningful policy-making, efficient resource allocation, and effective public service delivery. He said that the democratization of technology is a crucial tool to help bridge the data divide. In India, the Prime Minister elaborated, digitalization has brought about a revolutionary change where technology is being used as a tool to empower people, make data accessible, and ensure inclusivity. The Prime Minister underlined that India is willing to share its experience with partner countries and expressed hope that discussions will result in tangible actions to promote data for discourse, development and delivery in developing countries.
“In India, we hold great respect for rivers, trees, mountains, and all elements of nature”, the Prime Minister said, as he threw light on the traditional Indian thought which promotes a pro-planet lifestyle. Last year, along with the UN Secretary-General, the Prime Minister recalled launching Mission LiFE and expressed happiness that this group is working to develop a set of High-Level Principles. “This would be a significant contribution to climate action”, he added.
Underlining the importance of gender equality and women empowerment in achieving the SDGs, the Prime Minister mentioned that India is not limited to women empowerment but extends to women-led development. Shri Modi underlined that women are setting the agenda for development and are also the agents of growth and change. He urged everyone to adopt a game-changing Action Plan for Women-led Development.
Concluding the address, the Prime Minister said that the spirit of Kashi is energized by India’s timeless traditions. Shri Modi also urged the dignitaries to not spend all their time in meeting rooms and encouraged them to explore and experience the spirit of Kashi. “I am confident that experiencing the Ganga Aarti and visiting Sarnath will inspire you to achieve your desired results”, the Prime Minister concluded. Modi conveyed his best wishes for success in the deliberations to promote Agenda 2030 and fulfil the aspirations of the Global South.