After missing consecutive Non-Aligned Summits (NAM), Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have found new uses of the 120-country international platform. He not only offered help in the battle against coronavirus but also highlighted the “virus of terror” that the international community is facing.
Modi attended the online Summit of NAM Contact Group on Monday after having missed the previous two forums in 2017 and 2019. The online forum was held to jointly strategize the fight against a pandemic that has unleashed havoc since late 2019 after having been discovered in Wuhan, China.
India, caught in the maelstrom of global Islamic politics, opened up to participating at NAM at the highest level to drum its message on <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/opinion/27mon1.html"><strong>Pakistan's continued support</strong> </a>to terrorism and fake news. India is also under pressure from the Islamic world over fake social media handles, which are creating a rift between India and the world over the treatment of Muslims in India.
The summit with the theme, 'United against Covid-19', was hosted by current NAM Chairman Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev. The objective was to promote international solidarity in the fight against the Covid-19 and mobilize countries and international organizations to address the threat.
For India, reaching out to NAM was of strategic dual importance—partly to highlight its global support in combating the virus, which was in conformity with the theme, and partly to counter the high-decibel campaign launched by Pakistan in 2019 over the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir.
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Modi seized the opportunity to offer coronavirus assistance to NAM just as he had undertaken the initiative for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation <a href="https://indianarrative.com/world/india-shows-regional-statesmanship-over-covid-19-strategy-258.html"><strong>(Saarc) countries</strong></a>. Addressing the summit, Modi said: "Despite our own needs, we have ensured medical supplies to over 123 partner countries, including 59 members of NAM. We are active in global efforts to develop remedies and vaccines."
He also stressed upon the fact that the globe needs a new world order. “Covid-19 has shown us the limitations of the existing international system. In the post-Covid world, we need a new template of globalization, based on fairness, equality, and humanity,” Modi emphasized.
The PM highlighted the issues important to India which have been dogging the country in international fora. He urged the world to also combat other viruses—terrorism and fake news. “Even as the world fights Covid-19, some people are busy spreading other deadly viruses. Such as terrorism. Such as fake news, and doctored videos to divide communities and countries,” Modi alluded to the international campaign run by neighboring Pakistan through numerous <a href="https://eurasiantimes.com/kuwait-joins-growing-list-of-gulf-nations-to-reject-anti-india-propaganda/"><strong>fake social media handles</strong></a>.
India has been at the receiving end of a sustained campaign over the social media that has been damaging the country’s relations with friendly nations. Concerned over fake videos and misleading statements, Indian ambassadors to Gulf countries have been assuring them that Indian policies seek to build harmony within the country and in international fora as well.
By talking about the "virus of terrorism," Modi switched on the spotlight to show terror attacks on Indian soil by Pakistani trained militia. In the last one month alone, <a href="https://theprint.in/opinion/pakistan-using-covid-window-for-cross-border-militancy-in-kashmir-weaponising-social-media/412503/"><strong>cross-border attacks</strong></a> by foreign militants in Kashmir have taken the lives of over a dozen Indian soldiers, including senior officers, and other security personnel.
Last year, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister had separately traversed the world putting pressure on global capitals to speak to India about Kashmir. Indian diplomacy had to vigorously defend itself that Article 370 was an internal matter of India and abrogating it was important to bring Kashmir into mainstream Indian politics.
The online NAM summit was a power-packed gathering with 30 Heads of State and Governments besides Modi. It had representation from a number of multilateral organizations including the President of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammed Bande; UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres; African Union Chairperson Musa Faki Mahamat; EU High Representative Josep Borrell; and the man in the eye of the global storm, WHO Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, all of who addressed the meet as well.
NAM comprises 120 countries from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The organization's 18th summit took place in Azerbaijan last October, which had been attended by Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu. Similarly, at the 17th summit, the then Vice-President Hamid Ansari had led the Indian delegation to Margarita Island in Venezuela.
Despite its withering relevance after the disintegration of the USSR, NAM still remains one of the largest gatherings of countries after the UN. It has 53 countries from Africa, 39 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean and two from Europe. It has another 17 countries and 10 international organizations as Observers.
The leaders adopted a declaration underlining the importance of international solidarity in the fight against Covid-19 and announced the creation of a Task Force to identify social, economic, and humanitarian needs of member states. It is here that India can play an important role in augmenting the global response to mitigating the impact of coronavirus though medical and humanitarian aid.
Muhammad-Bande reiterated the UN's commitment to finding solutions to the coronavirus pandemic, while UN Secretary-General Guterres stressed the importance of addressing the socio-economic consequences of Covid-19..