In a speech laced with humour and hope, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday told British lawmakers that the two countries must seize opportunities, remove obstacles to cooperation and make the relationship count as one of the “leading global partnerships”.
His speech, a first by an Indian leader, received a standing ovation from the British parliamentarians.
Modi, who read a prepared text, also flagged the challenges of radicalisation and terrorism, and pushed for the adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN.
“This is a huge moment for our two great nations. So we must seize our opportunities, remove the obstacles to cooperation, instill full confidence in our relations and remain sensitive to each other’s interests. In doing so, we will transform our strategic partnership, and we will make this relationship count as one of the leading global partnerships,” he said.
Highlighting the challenges of radicalisation and terrorism, Modi said: “We live in a world where instability in a distant region quickly reaches our doorsteps. We see this in the challenges of radicalisation and refugees. The faultlines are shifting from the boundaries of nations into the web of our societies and the streets of our cities.”
Stating that “terrorism and extremism are a global force that are larger than their changing names, groups, territories and targets,” Modi said: “The world must speak in one voice and act in unison to combat this challenge of our times. We must adopt a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN without delay. There should be no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between nations. There should be a resolve to isolate those who harbour terrorists and willingness to stand with nations that will fight them honestly. We need a social movement against extremism in countries where it is most prevalent and every effort to delink religion and terrorism.”
He described India as the “new bright spot of hope and opportunity for the world”. “It is not just the universal judgment of international institutions. It is not just the logic of numbers: a nation of 1.25 billion people with 800 million under the age of 35 years. This optimism comes from the energy and enterprise of our youth; eager for change and confident of achieving it,” he said.
Claiming credit for this positive picture, he said, “It is the result of bold and sustained measures to reform our laws, policies, institutions and processes.”
Stating that his government’s goals come with a definite date and not just a mirage of hope, he said, “There is transparency and accountability in governance. There is boldness and speed in decisions. Federalism is no longer the faultline of Centre-State relations, but the definition of a new partnership of Team India. Citizens now have the ease of trust, not the burden of proof and process. Businesses find an environment that is open and easy to work in.”
“If you visit India, you will experience the wind of change,” he told the British lawmakers. He said the two countries would form “unbeatable partnerships, if we combine our unique strengths and the size and scale of opportunities in India”.