18th Plenary Meeting, 4th October, 1977
Speech by Mr. A. B. Vajpayee*
India recently accomplished a historic non-violent revolution. In a
magnificent assertion of the indomitable human spirit, our people
reaffirmed in March last their firm faith in a free and open society.
Calculated efforts by forces of darkness and tyranny to destroy democracy
were decisively defeated. The March revolution was clearly of far-reaching
significance for our 600 million people. We are happy that its
significance has been equally appreciated by freedom-loving people all
over the world.
Our people boldly upheld the basic principles, values and aspirations on
which the United Nations was founded more than three decades ago, and
regained their hard-won freedom and fundamental human rights. I have,
therefore, great pleasure in bringing to the United Nations the greetings
of our people and of reiterating, on their behalf, at this thirty-second
session of the General Assembly, India's abiding faith in the United
Nations as an instrument for maintaining global peace and security and for
promoting orderly progress through co-operation among nations based on
justice and equality.
Our new Janata Government has been in office for barely six months.
Nevertheless, much has already been achieved during this time. Basic human
rights have been restored. The pall of fear that hung menacingly over our
people has been lifted. Constitutional measures are being devised to
ensure that democracy and fundamental freedoms can never be smothered
again. But we are not going to rest content with this only. As solemnly
affirmed by our Parliament on 22 July 1977, our people are determined to
bring about by peaceful and legitimate methods "a socio-economic
revolution, illuminated by democratic standards, vivified by socialist
ideals and firmly founded on moral and spiritual values".
I am a newcomer to the United Nations, but India is not, having been
associated actively with the Organization from its very inception. For me,
it is a great privilege to address this Assembly. Indeed, as one who has
been a parliamentarian in my own country for two decades and more, I feel
a special sense of exhilaration in attending this assembly of nations for
the first time.
What has added to my pleasure is to have in the Chair, Mr. President, the
representative of a country which, together with India, was one of the
founders of the non-aligned movement, and with which we have firm bonds of
friendship. I extend to you, Mr. President, the cordial felicitations of
my Government and myself on your unanimous election as President of the
thirty-second General Assembly. Your election is as much a tribute to your
personal eminence and wide diplomatic experience as to Yugoslavia and the
role it has been playing in strengthening the forces of peace and
stability. We assure you of our fullest co-operation in the discharge of
I also take this opportunity to pay a warm tribute to the outgoing
President, Ambassador Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe, the representative of
our close neighbour, Sri Lanka, for steering the thirty-first session with
great tact and ability.
Mr. Molapo (Lesotho), Vice-President, took the Chair.
May I also join the other delegations in paying my sincere tribute to our
Secretary-General, Mr. Kurt Waldheim, who brings to his heavy
responsibilities wisdom, patience and a deep commitment to the United
Nations and its role in the promotion of international understanding and
I should, moreover, like to compliment Mr. Waldheim for his
thought-provoking report to the Assembly in which he has candidly drawn
attention to the challenging tasks that lie ahead. The United Nations, he
has pointed out, "presents unrivalled opportunities" [A/32/1,
sect. X11] and "is still to some extent, an Organization in search of
its identity and its true role" [ibid.].
The Janata Government stands firmly for peace, non-alignment and
friendship with all countries. These policies have always represented
India's national consensus and tradition Non-alignment is a
projection of national sovereignty in international relations. Its essence
is not neutrality but freedom, which is the natural consequence of the
struggle for the liberation of our nation from colonial rule and the
liberation of the human spirit from subjugation and oppression. We believe
in the true independence of nation-States and their freedom to pursue
policies in their best national interests, and to judge every issue on its
The new Government took the earliest opportunity, on assuming office, to
declare its resolve not only to continue non-alignment but in fact to
restore to the policy its original positive thrust. It is a matter of some
satisfaction that our stress on genuine non-alignment and our decision to
pursue the policy with vigour and dynamism has been understood and
appreciated in its proper perspective.
The vision of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakum is an old one. We in India have all
along believed in the concept of the world as one family. After many
trials and tribulations there are prospects of realizing the dream in the
shape of the United Nations which has reached near universality in its
membership representing 4,000 million people of diverse races, colours and
creeds. However, the United Nations should not function merely as a
conclave of governmental delegations. We must see how this assembly of
nations can be transformed into a parliament of men, representing the
collective conscience and will of humanity.
The United Nations Charter was a pledge not just by nations or for
nations. It was a declaration on behalf of the peoples of the world to
save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and, what is, more, to
build a new world order in true freedom.
My thoughts are not in terms of the might and majesty of nations. Much
more important to me are the dignity and demands of the common man. Our
successes and failures should be judged ultimately by one yardstick alone:
whether we are working towards social justice and dignity for all peoples,
indeed for every man, woman and child. For its success the United Nations
must become the effective voice of all humanity and a dynamic forum for
collective action and co-operation based on interdependence between
Our own history and political experience have taught us that the real
sanction, indeed the ultimate power, rests in the will and response of the
people, not in governments. Thirty years ago under the leadership of
Mahatma Gandhi our people courageously fought the might of a great
imperial Power and ended its domination over India without resort to arms.
Earlier this year our people successfully frustrated attempts by a
self-seeking regime to deprive them of their fundamental freedoms.
What came to pass took many friends abroad by surprise. But to me the
great political courage shown by the people came from our ethos and
tradition. The individual in India has always been given the pivotal place
in our religious and philosophic tradition. Our scriptures and epics have
all along made one central point: the cosmos and creation hinge on the
individual and his fulfilment.
We have accepted all along that divinity may have many forms. Everyone in
India is therefore free to pursue his own path to salvation, irrespective
of birth or belief. At the same time, however, our seers, in an unbroken
line from ancient Vedic times to the present, have taught us compassion
and tolerance towards our fellow men. Gandhiji summed up the essence of
this teaching in a favourite word: Antyodaya, which means "unto this
last". This word, which he used time and again in his messages,
signifies the concern which any society should have for the well-being of
the poorest, the lowliest and the lost.
I am, therefore, convinced that our national as well as international
politics must be constantly permeated with the thought of man, his
happiness and well-being, and his essential unity with fellow beings. I am
not thinking of man in the abstract, in whose name tyranny has been
perpetrated down the ages. What I have in mind is man of flesh and blood.
Our central concern must be his joys and sorrows, his hopes and
We stand for peace-a warm, living peace-which is the bedrock of all our
efforts. Peace, however, is not just the absence of war. The tenuous
fabric of world peace could be torn asunder any time. Peace can be secured
only by collective effort to end the exploitation and domination of one
people over another and by eliminating glaring inequalities and imbalances
between nations, and in the rights and opportunities for the world's
Each nation-State has, no doubt, to preserve and promote its national
interests. But no country can live in isolation within the four corners of
its frontiers. We have to recognize the inevitability of global
interdependence for promoting human welfare and happiness in every part of
the world. And interdependence demands that we should all look beyond our
national horizons and display a spirit of accommodation and sacrifice in
order to share with the rest of mankind the fruits of progress and
The world has come a long way since India launched its national liberation
movement against colonialism and imperialism. As an Asian country, we
watched with anguish the enormity of the suffering and sacrifice of the
brave Vietnamese people in their long struggle for national liberation.
Their ultimate success is a shining tribute to the might and power of the
human spirit and its indomitable resistance to subjugation.
We are happy that the United Nations has rightly and properly mounted an
international operation to provide assistance for the reconstruction of
Viet Nam and for the rehabilitation of its people, a task in which my
country is extending its full co- operation.
It is with a feeling of great joy that we welcome the entry of the
Socialist Republic of Viet Nam into the United Nations. We also extend a
cordial welcome to a new African State, the Republic of Djibouti. The
entry of these two countries into the United Nations has taken this
Organization one step closer to its goal of universality. We have friendly
ties with both countries and look forward to working with them in closest
We mourn the passing of Archbishop Makarios, the President of Cyprus, and
pay our homage to his memory. The late Archbishop was a world statesman
and one of the founding fathers of the non-aligned movement. He was the
chief architect of the independence of Cyprus and its struggle to preserve
The agenda before the Assembly is one covering a multitude of problems of
current concern to the world. May I spotlight only a few specific issues
which are of great importance and urgency and must take priority in our
Foremost among these problems is the momentous and agonizing struggle for
human rights and freedom in southern Africa. India has always been opposed
to unnecessary bloodshed and violence in national affairs and inter-State
relations. It stands for non-violence and for resolving conflicts along
the path of peace and negotiations. Even during the dark period of foreign
subjugation, India adhered to certain basic principles: steadfast
opposition to colonial oppression and total rejection of any form of
racialism and suppression of human rights. India's dedication to these
principles is even deeper today.
The challenge in Africa is clear: whether a people have the inalienable
right to live in dignity and freedom or whether a racist minority can be
allowed to perpetuate injustice and oppression over the vast majority.
There is no question that all forms of racialism must be eradicated, root
and branch. Apartheid must go. Its continuance is a blot on humanity and a
grave reflection on the United Nations.
India would like to see the problem of Zimbabwe resolved at the earliest
possible moment through peaceful means. It has thus welcomed the positive
elements in the recent Anglo-United States initiative taken towards the
establishment of genuine majority rule within a time-bound framework. We
hope that the Security Council resolution adopted recently on the subject,
resolution 415 (1977), will lead to a ceasefire and eventually to a
solution of the problem.
Much will depend upon the willingness of the illegal Ian Smith regime to
see reason and give up its arrogance and intransigence. Until the Smith
regime is ousted from power and freedom is restored to the long-suffering
people, we cannot expect the freedom fighters to lay down their arms. In
the meantime, India reaffirms its support for, and solidarity with, the
patriotic forces of Zimbabwe, who are valiantly fighting for the
liberation of their country against heavy odds. If world opinion continues
to be wilfully defied by Ian Smith in a desperate bid to cling to power,
the United Nations will have to exercise all its authority to widen its
mandatory sanctions against the illegal minority regime and its South
African supporter. That alone would hasten its collapse and help to
restore to the people of Zimbabawe their inalienable right to determine
their own destiny.
The authority, credibility and prestige of the United Nations face an
equally stubborn challenge in Namibia, which has the status of an
international Territory. It remains to be seen whether the efforts of the
Western Powers can bring about the withdrawal of South Africa from Namibia
so that the resolutions of the United Nations may be implemented. We
condemn South Africa for its decision to integrate Walvis Bay, a part of
Namibia, with the Cape Province. We also condemn South Africa for its
reported plans to use a part of Namibian territory for nuclear testing.
We stand by the South West Africa People's Organization and urge all
nations to recognize its representative character. We cannot expect the
people of Namibia not to resort to armed struggle if that is the only
means left to them to achieve their goal of independence. However, the
issue cannot be left to be resolved only by the efforts and struggle of
that Organization. The United Nations has a collective and direct
responsibility. It has by no means exhausted its capacity to discipline
the South African regime into total withdrawal from Namibia.
While in southern Africa we face colonialism and racialism at its worst,
in west Asia there remains an even more explosive threat to international
peace. Here, too, some basic principles are involved. First, no one can be
permitted to enjoy the fruits of aggression. Secondly, no people can be
denied their inalienable right to their homeland. Thirdly, all border
disputes should be resolved by negotiation and not by force.
There can thus be no recognition of the territories illegally occupied by
Israel through the use of force and aggression, and they must be vacated.
At the same time the Arab people of Palestine who have been forcibly
evicted from their hearths and homes must be enabled to exercise their
inalienable right to return to their land. All peoples and States in the
region have the right to live in peace and harmony with their neighbours.
That is an essential prerequisite for a durable solution to the problems
of the region.
The United Nations must also reject and repudiate the recent efforts by
Israel to alter further the demographic character of the territories
occupied through new settlements on the West Bank and, in Gaza. Unless
resolved satisfactorily and in good time, the problem would have
disastrous repercussions far beyond the region. There is clearly urgent
need to reconvene the Geneva Conference, with the participation of the
Palestine Liberation Organization in it.
The situation in Cyprus remains unresolved. We still hope that bicommunal
talks may be resumed and a solution will be found which is consistent with
the territorial integrity, sovereignty and non-aligned status of the
Republic of Cyprus.
Economic issues are an increasingly vital dimension of international
relations. The concept of a new international economic order based on
equality and justice has already been accepted by the world community. We
must now move forward to its early realization so that men and women
everywhere may look forward to more just and equitable opportunities and
rewards for their labours.
I mentioned earlier the challenge and paradox of how to balance national
responsibilities with the imperatives of unavoidable international
co-operation. After over 30 years with the United Nations we recognize,
better than before, that no nation or group of nations can become islands
of prosperity in an ocean of poverty. The discussions on international
economic relations have been going on for more than two decades. Even the
modest targets set for the current Second United Nations Development
Decade have been either disregarded or diluted. The transfer of resources
and technology has never been sufficient to correct the accentuated
All these problems were vividly explained and projected in the Conference
on International Economic Cooperation, which ended in Paris this year. In
the 18 months of long deliberations some progress was made, but results
were deeply disappointing. A special fund is to be set up and some
commitment to fulfil the allocation of overseas development aid has been
reaffirmed. But the major problems of transfer of resources and technology
and relief from the burden of debt remain. The common fund within the
Integrated Programme for Commodities has been agreed to in principle but
remains to be realized in practice.
Arguments and theories are being put forward which do not show sufficient
appreciation of the grave crisis confronting the developing countries.
Perhaps that is due to the preoccupation of the developed nations with
their own problems and difficulties. In many cases, what is being given by
one hand is being taken away by the other.
It is claimed that modern science and technology have the means of
removing poverty and spreading the benefits of progress to the whole
world. The fact, however, remains that the non-availability of the right
type of technology for the developing countries is only accentuating the
disparities between the rich and the poor. International commerce has
undoubtedly multiplied in the post-war decades. But the advantage from its
manifold increase has contributed mainly to the material progress and
higher standards of living in the developed world.
The problems of the easing of trade barriers for the developing countries
and protection of remunerative prices for their exports remain more or
less where they were following the energy crisis. The problem of
oil-importing developing countries is so serious that they can look
forward to nothing but mounting debts for survival.
We recognize that developed nations have their own internal social and
economic problems. But they need to lift their perspectives and policies
beyond immediate and narrow national concerns. One could ask; Would it not
be economically sound to facilitate a significant flow of financial and
technological capabilities from the developed to the developing world as
an enlightened answer to structural problems for their own economies? An
increase in the purchasing power of 3,000 million people inhabiting the
developing countries could well provide an answer to the problems of
unemployment and economic dislocation in the affluent world.
India has participated with vigour and sincerity in all the deliberations
of the world community, not in a spirit of confrontation, but in the
recognition that the world economic malaise requires a new sense of
In this regard I venture to suggest an approach which was suggested many
decades ago by Mahatma Gandhi. He was indeed a universal man. Only two
days ago we celebrated the one hundred and eighth anniversary of his
birth. He had a clear perception of the world economic order based on
certain principles which, in my opinion, may be summed up as follows.
First, all peoples have a right to the satisfaction of their primary
needs, irrespective of the state of their economies, their levels of
productivity, or their geographic location.
Secondly, interdependence between nations must be without exploitation.
Since there can be no genuine interdependence among unequals, action must
be taken to correct this inequality.
Thirdly, the developing countries must pursue paths of individual and
collective self-reliance as part of their over-all strategy to secure the
transfer or resources and technology from the developed world.
Fourthly, despite their division into nation-States, the people of the
world constitute one family. An integrated world economic order demands
movement across frontiers, not only of goods, capital resources and
technology, as at present, but even more so of people themselves.
Fifthly, economic strategy should be directed towards the growth of
employment rather than the growth of gross national product alone.
Sixthly, there should be a world-wide movement against the extravagance of
consumption, which tends to dehumanize and alienate man from his
Seventhly, the developing countries, no less than the developed world,
must reduce the gap between their elite and their masses. An equitable
world economic order can only be based on an equitable economic system
within each nation.
As the second most populous country in the world, the dimensions of our
problems are immense. Our achievements are noteworthy, but challenging
tasks lie ahead. As a country which has recently recommitted itself to the
democratic path and the principle of rule by consent, our tasks tend to
become more complex.
We have no magic wand or instant solutions to the myriad problems
inherited from the near and the distant past. But we have reason to be
optimistic and confident. In three decades of independence, the
traditional genius of our people has enabled them to show their capacity
to grasp the new opportunities offered by science and technology and to
bend these modern tools of innovation and advancement to serve our own
While recognizing the advantages of international co-operation, we have
sought to depend largely on our own effort for national progress and
economic self-reliance. Our new Government is in the process of setting
itself new priorities and removing the distortions that have crept into
our policies and planning. On the economic front, we want to move away
from the "growthmanship" and blind imitation of industrialised
States towards integrated planning in which man is at the centre.
We propose to concentrate more on the development of our rural areas,
where an overwhelming proportion of our people live and will always
belong. We do not seek affluence based on elitist consumption. Man must be
judged by what he is, and not by what he has. We want to provide our
jobless people with purposeful employment and fulfil the basic needs of
the underprivileged masses. We seek to arrest, if not to reverse, the
process of urbanization, which has become one of the biggest social and
economic problems of the developing world-a subject on which Gandhiji
sounded a note of caution many decades ago.
Even as India struggles for a better tomorrow, it has demonstrated its
willingness to share the benefits of its economic and technological
experience with other developing countries. Our professional and academic
institutions have been providing training and instruction to thousands of
students from other developing countries in diverse fields of social and
economic development. We stand for increasing co-operation with other
developing countries to mutual advantage, without in any way seeking
exclusive advantage, either economic or political.
India seeks friendship with all and dominance over none. The Janata
Government has actively sought to build bridges of friendship,
understanding and co-operation with all countries. Attention has been
paid, first and foremost, to strengthening ties with our immediate
neighbours. This is the message I sought to carry to Nepal, Burma and
Afghanistan in my recent visits. We look forward to consolidating the
process of normalization of relations with Pakistan, not only to ensure
durable peace, but to promote beneficial bilateral co-operation.
Four days ago, on 30 September, the representatives of India and
Bangladesh initialled the text of an agreement on the Ganga waters issue.
It is a comprehensive understanding covering the short-term problem, and
lays the foundation for a long-term solution to meet the optimum
requirements of both countries.
This problem has bedevilled the relations between us and our neighbour for
25 years. The agreement vindicates our faith that so complex a problem,
affecting the economy and lives of millions of people of two neighbouring
nations, could only be resolved in a spirit of shared sacrifice and mutual
accommodation through sincerely motivated bilateral negotiations.
Many political changes have taken place in the last year in South Asia.
Even so, it is a tribute to the people that the area is today freer of
tension than it has been for decades. If, indeed, South Asia can find a
recipe for peace and co-operation, all of us with similar burdens can then
devote greater attention to development and to constructive endeavour. In
fact, it is in this context that we make the special plea that the area
around us-the region enveloping the Indian Ocean-should be made free of
great-Power rivalry and bases which can be used for aggressive actions. In
the wider context, India welcomes the continuing search for
detente-detente not only in Europe but everywhere-so that the benefits
flowing from it can be enjoyed by all.
Year after year scores of resolutions have been adopted at the United
Nations calling for general and complete disarmament, in particular
nuclear disarmament. The arms race, with the resulting arsenals of
fearsome weapons, has reached such an alarming stage that the world is
poised on the horns of a strange dilemma. We are told that nuclear weapons
are necessary as a deterrent against war and that it is only the assurance
of their use that constitutes the core of deterrence. We do not accept
We believe that nuclear weapons are dangerous whether they are in the
possession of one country, some countries or many countries. We are not
only against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we are against nuclear
weapons themselves. India has been consistently opposed to the acquisition
and development of nuclear weapons. Indeed, India was the first country to
plead at the United Nations more than 20 years ago for a ban on the
testing of all nuclear weapons. The great Powers were not in a mood to
listen to us at that time. When they were ready for it, they signed the
partial test-ban Treaty. That was 14 years ago. The world rejoiced and
believed that a comprehensive test-ban treaty was close at hand, but we
are still waiting. More nuclear- weapons tests have been conducted since
the partial test ban than prior to it. Weapon tests under ground are being
conducted even now. There has been no progress in nuclear disarmament.
We are not a nuclear-weapon Power and have no intention of being one. The
new Government has reiterated this position in unambiguous terms. Our
Prime Minister, Mr. Morarji Desai, has said that India would not go in for
nuclear weapons even if all the other countries in the world did so. We
did not sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
because it was a discriminatory and unequal Treaty. Nothing has happened
since that Treaty was formulated nearly 10 years ago to change our view.
India embarked upon a programme for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy
nearly 25 years ago. We continue to be committed to it. We fully share the
view that non- proliferation of nuclear weapons should not be confused
with non-dissemination of nuclear technology. We shall oppose, as before,
any moves or measures that would stand in the way of the peaceful
utilisation of nuclear energy. We shall also oppose moves or measures that
are discriminatory in nature. At the same time we are prepared to co-
operate whole-heartedly with other countries in discussing ways and means
of putting an end to the danger of nuclear weapons.
It is both urgent and necessary for the political mind to free itself of
military logic and for the political will to assert the force of reason
and reverse the nuclear arms race in the direction of nuclear disarmament.
We trust that the discussions in the special session on disarmament to be
held next year will identify the priorities in nuclear disarmament and
help the formulation of a time-bound programme of realistic and concrete
measures for disarmament without further delay.
Already the establishment of the new international economic order is being
delayed because of diversion of scarce resources to the futile arms race.
World military expenditure is estimated to be more than $300 billion
annually at current prices. Of this amount 90 per cent is accounted for by
developed countries, which is equivalent to 20 times the official
development assistance now given by them to developing countries. Even 5
per cent of the total expenditure incurred by the developed countries
could vastly help the efforts of the developing countries to achieve many
of their modest economic goals. Disarmament is thus vital not only to
ensure peace and security but to promote speedy economic and social
A great deal undoubtedly remains to be done. We often complain of the lack
of will or progress. However, there is no occasion for cynicism and
despair. Despite our many disappointments the family of the United Nations
has an impressive record of achievement. I would commend the work of the
ILO, WHO, UNESCO, FAO, UNCTAD and many other bodies within the United
Nations system. Given the required funds these bodies could do a lot more
to alleviate human suffering and promote well-being. A case in point is
the WHO efforts to eradicate malaria, which is again raising its ugly
head: Its programme to eradicate this scourge from the globe is estimated
to cost about $450 million-half of what is spent daily for military
purposes-yet the programme is dragging for lack of funds.
India is convinced of the necessity of supporting, strengthening and
developing the United Nations as a universal Organization, not only for
preserving peace among nation States and promoting respect for human
rights, but also for fostering economic co- operation and harmonizing the
actions of States. This is clearly a vital task facing the international
In the final analysis, I return to my basic theme. The greatest task
before us, which envelops all the issues confronting mankind, concerns the
welfare of man, regardless of race, colour, creed or nationality. All our
problems, the questions of war and peace, economic malaise and rapidly
diminishing natural resources, must lead us to one conclusion: in our
interdependent world each one of us is his brother's keeper.
The single all-embracing item on our agenda is the future of man, and it
will remain so in the years and decades to come. Man inherited, developed
and still nurtures this good earth and is nourished by it. If we realize
that his survival is inextricably linked with that of millions of others
as never in the past, we shall reach the only answer to the requirement of
our times: national sovereignty must adjust itself to international
On behalf of India I pledge before this Assembly that our country will
never be found wanting in its resolve to share in the sacrifice for the
ideals of one world and for the welfare and greater glory of man.
Jai Jagat (Hail One World)!
*Mr. Vajpayee spoke in Hindi. The English version of his statement was
supplied by the delegation.
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