In a thinly-veiled reference to Pakistan and China, India on Monday said that when some countries are busy taking undue advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing their support to terrorism or to adopt aggressive policies, New Delhi has focussed on immediately extending medical assistance and supporting countries vulnerable to the pandemic. The remarks by India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti came while addressing the 3rd anniversary of the India-UN Development Partnership Fund at India's Permanent Mission to the UN.
The Fund, established in 2017, has so far supported 59 projects in 48 countries, through $47.8 million in contributions from a $150 million multi-year pledge by the Government of India. "At a time when some countries are busy taking undue advantage of COVID-19 to spread divisive disinformation or to enhance even more their support to terrorism or to adopt aggressive policies, India's answer has been to immediately come to the support of countries vulnerable to the pandemic, rush urgently needed medical supplies, strengthen national health capacities and mitigate the diverse socio-economic impact of this crisis, Tirumurti said.
While Tirumurti did not name Pakistan and China, the reference to the two nations was clear as he noted that some countries are taking advantage of the circumstances arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic to increase their support to terrorism or to adopt aggressive policies. He told the virtual commemoration that "India has through history prioritised cooperation over conflict, co-existence over the competition, sharing over receiving, plurality over hegemony and inclusivity and democracy over exclusion and control. This has underpinned our approach to development cooperation as well." Noting that India has always remained a strong votary of non-earmarked resources for development in multilateral institutions, Tirumurti said sustainability has been the focus of India's developmental efforts.
"India shuns any effort to impose conditionalities or to create indebtedness or to constrain developmental space for developing countries. In this quest, the Fund has successfully focussed on LDCs, LLDCs, SIDS, Africa and other developing countries and regions and covers a diverse set of thematic areas," he said, reiterating India's full commitment to realising the true potential of this remarkable partnership for peace, prosperity and development.
He said that in the context of India, the term South-North cooperation is more appropriate since, through history, the country has always shared with others its knowledge in science, mathematics, astronomy, the arts and has later gone on to share the unique tools of our freedom struggle to inspire countries to free themselves of colonialism and, closer to our times, shared the tools for human resource development, development partnership and nation building. Development partnership is not new to India. Tirumurti cited renowned Indian philosopher and thinker Swami Vivekananda to say that "Each nation must give in order to live. When you give life, you will have life; when you receive, you must pay for it by giving to all others."
The Fund's project portfolio covers all regions of the South, all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and is guided by partnering government priorities, South-South cooperation principles and sustainable development approaches, he said. The Fund was established in collaboration with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation. Embodying the spirit of South-South cooperation, the Fund is guided by the priorities of the partner countries to foster sustainable development and is completely demand driven.
The Fund has made remarkable contributions in the area of poverty reduction and livelihood development. In Chad, a project trained 200 local farmers in innovative farming techniques while also seeding 28,000 plants across 70 hectares to reverse deforestation. Contributing to climate resilience, a project across 7 Pacific Island Countries established a climate early warning system, including installation of weather monitoring equipment and enhanced government technical capacities to analyse and act on data.
Women's empowerment has been another key priority for the Fund. In Liberia, a project built a 6-room educational resource centre, contributing to improving the reading proficiency of 300 students. In cases involving natural disasters and emergencies, the Fund has demonstrated speed and responsiveness.
In the last few months during the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Fund has provided financial support to nine developing countries to procure medical supplies and protective equipment as well as to implement socio-economic response measures: Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Saint Lucia, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.