Tunis (Tunisia) : Any global forum which does not include India has limited relevance, said Vice President M. Hamid Ansari while speaking on the topic ‘India and the World’ at Tunisian Institute of Strategic Studies in Carthage here on Friday.
“One-sixth of the humanity and in keeping with the growing capacities and aspirations of our people, India has a much larger role to play in charting a more equitable and sustainable future for our world,” said the Vice President.
Calling the 20th century a period of ”Megadeath and Metamyth”, Vice President Ansari said although interstate conflicts have declined, the experience of the past quarter of a century shows that expectations of a more comprehensive corrective have been belied as the traditional security architecture has been slow to respond to these new realities.
Ansari said India is not a rejectionist power that stands outside the global order, but her interests lie in working to change reform and improve the global order, which demands increased external engagement within the ambit of a non-intrusive policy.
The Vice-President said India had vital stake in the stability, security and economic well-being of West Asia and North African region and was willing to expand its strategic and economic partnership.
Flagging terrorism as an area of common concern, the Vice president said even as some countries continued to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy, global terrorism had emerged as a principal global challenge and threat to pluralist and open societies.
The Vice-President said International terrorism can only be defeated by organised international action, adding that we need to restructure the international legal framework such as by adopting a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to deal with the challenges of terrorism. He also called for increased cooperation in intelligence sharing among societies that stand for peace and share values of humanism.
The Vice President said relations between India and Tunisia have been friendly and free of discord and the countries share common principles and have a similar approach on many issued that he saw a prosperous and peaceful future as commercial and political interactions deepened.
Although interstate conflicts have admittedly declined, the Vice President said, the experience of the past quarter of a century shows the manner in which the expectations of a more comprehensive corrective have been belied:
“There has been a phenomenal increase in lower intensity civil conflicts. There has been an increase in violence against unprotected civilians. Some of these conflicts have spilled across state boundaries and their principal victims are civilians. They have dislocated human populations and are endangering human security. They tend to undermine the nation state, and are creating friction between neighbouring countries,” he said.
“We have witnessed the ease with which regional and sub-national conflicts have spiralled into broader conflict and become a global security challenge. These threats are increasingly emanating from non-state sources such as organised crime, organised terrorist outfits and pirates. Even more disturbing is the trend where non-state armed groups appear as parties in violent conflict,” he added.
Stating that the traditional security architecture has been slow to respond to these new realities, he said even as the economic prominence of new players is remarkably well understood. “While emerging economies have secured a role in the global economic system, the Security Council of the United Nations remains a captive of its five Permanent Members. This intransigence has constrained the ability of the established security systems to address the evolving nature of security challenges.”
Maintaining that 25 years of economic liberalisation, beginning in 1991, have transformed India’s economy, the Vice President said: “The average annual growth rate of 7 percent has created wealth allowing millions of Indians to take part, and to benefit from, a globalised world. Despite this, about one-third of our population lives in extreme poverty and we face formidable challenges of education, training, human and infrastructure development.”
“Our total global trade grew from US $ 37.3 billion in 1991 to US $ 758.5 billion in 2016, a 20 fold growth in the last 25 years. There has been a phenomenal increase in India’s industrial and agricultural outputs. A business friendly India is today one of the leading recipients of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in a range of sectors,” he added.
Highlighting strong growth in India’s maritime and strategic capacity, Vice President Ansari said, “Our defence capabilities have increased; so has our capacity to provide overseas security and humanitarian support to our friends and those in need. We like to resolve our conflicts peacefully through negotiations but at the same time would like to have an effective and credible deterrence capacity to protect our legitimate interests.”
Pointing at a peaceful periphery which is critical to India’s success, he said, “We believe that the entire South Asian region needs to grow with India for our sustainable prosperity. ‘Neighbourhood first’ has, therefore, been a key component of India’s worldview with a strong sense of priority being attached to enhancing cooperation with immediate neighbours. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation ( SAARC) has been infused with new energy even as we have continued our bilateral cooperation with neighbouring countries.”
“We have adopted an ‘Act East’ policy based on enhanced connectivity with maritime neighbours to the East. The deepening of strategic and commercial ties with the Indian Ocean Rim countries have been a priority. Our ‘Link West’ approach has invigorated cooperation with West Asia and the Persian Gulf littoral,” he said.
Saying India considers the Middle East Peace Process as the key to resolve long pending issues and prevent further radicalisation of the region, Vice President Ansari said: “We have sought enhanced connectivity with Eurasia through initiatives such as the Chabahar port and related infrastructure, and the Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India (TAPI) pipeline, a project whose initiation I personally attended last year with leaders from the other partner states.”
The Vice President said, “We have reached out to our friends in Africa through initiatives such as India Africa Forum Summit, held last year in New Delhi. We convened a conclave of South Pacific islands to explore issues of mutual interest and define India’s contribution in their growth and development goals. With other emerging economies we have collaborated, such as under the BRICS forum, to develop more equitable global governance systems.”
Hailing relations between India and Tunisia as “friendly” and “free of discord”, he said, “We share common principles and have a similar approach on many issues. India had extended strong support to the Tunisian struggle for freedom, and today, India stands ready again to provide all possible support as you embark on a path of freedom and democracy.”
“Tunisia can also be a hub for our trade with both Europe and Africa. Tunisia can leverage our expertise and proven capabilities in production of pharmaceuticals, especially generic medicines at affordable cost, advancement in healthcare sector, science and technology and provision of high quality education at reasonable cost to its advantage,” said the Vice President.
“I see a prosperous and peaceful future as our commercial and political interactions deepen. It will open a new era of peace and prosperity, not only for our two countries but the entire region,” he added. (ANI)