‘Put human beings at the center of our vision of global prosperity,’ Indian PM tells G20 leaders

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Reuters file photo)
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Updated 27 March 2020

‘Put human beings at the center of our vision of global prosperity,’ Indian PM tells G20 leaders

  • Modi says 90 percent of the COVID-19 cases and 88 percent of deaths were in G20 countries.
  • Indian PM holds conversation with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called upon G20 leaders to keep human interests rather than economic targets at the center of the vision for global prosperity.

Modi spoke in a virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit on Thursday, which was convened by Saudi Arabia to discuss the challenges posed by the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and to forge a global coordinated response.

“In this grim situation, not just our own citizens, but the whole world is looking up to us. Our decisions and actions will shape the world’s response not just to this but also to future pandemics,” Modi said at the conference, which was attended by all the heads of the state of the world’s major industrialized nations.

He added: “We need to put human beings at the center of the vision for global prosperity and cooperation, freely and openly share the benefits of medical research and development, develop adaptive, responsive and humane health care systems.”

Modi also called for “strengthening and reforming intergovernmental organizations like World Health Organization (WHO) and working together to reduce economic hardships resulting from COVID-19 particularly, for the economically weak.”

The Indian prime minister also held a telephone conversation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in which he thanked King Salman for convening the extraordinary session of the G20.

Modi added that 90 percent of the COVID-19 cases and 88 percent of deaths were in G20 countries, despite only having 60 percent of the world’s population.

“The G20 represents 85 percent of the global gross domestic product, and today the whole world is facing this pandemic which has affected a large number of people, industries and global economies,” former Indian Ambassador to Jordan Anil Trigunayat told Arab News.

“Therefore, it is significant that the meeting has taken place at a time when a joint strategy could be found to counter this grave pandemic and salvage the economy especially  the smaller economies and work together in the area of medical research.

“Setting up a united front and creating a corpus to fight the global menace is important. This pandemic can be defeated with the full economic and medical cooperation of the leading economies of the world, who are the main victims.”

Delhi-based foreign policy expert Zakir Hussain appreciated the “initiative” taken by Saudi Arabia in organizing the summit at this stage.

“Saudi Arabia’s economy is greatly linked to the world outside. It has a leadership role to play not only in the Gulf countries but also in the larger world where it can exert its influence in finding a joint solution to a problem which is destabilizing the leading economies of the world,” Hussain told Arab News.

He added: “By calling the virtual summit, Riyadh has demonstrated a new openness which reflects the Kingdom’s urge for stability not only in the Gulf region but also in the world outside.”


Indian court accused of ‘betrayal’ over mosque verdict

Updated 01 October 2020

Indian court accused of ‘betrayal’ over mosque verdict

  • Senior BJP officials acquitted of conspiracy to destroy historic Muslim place of worship

NEW DELHI: A special court in the northern Indian city of Lucknow on Wednesday acquitted all 32 politicians and senior leaders from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of conspiring to demolish the 16th-century Babri Mosque in 1992, ruling that the move was not “preplanned.”

Muslims described the judgment as “yet another betrayal by the judiciary.”

The BJP under the leadership of then-party president Lal Krishna Advani led a political campaign in the late 1980s and early 1990s to build a temple on the site of the disputed 16th-century mosque in the eastern city of Ayodhya, claiming that it was built by the first Mughal ruler Babar. 

On Dec. 6, 1992, in response to a call by BJP leaders, hundreds of Hindu extremists gathered at the disputed site and demolished the mosque, resulting in religious riots across the country that claimed more than 2,000 lives.

Most of the BJP leaders and its affiliates were blamed for razing the Babri Mosque.

However, on Wednesday, Surendra Kumar Yadav, the judge at the special court, said that the demolition of the 500-year-old mosque was not pre-planned.

“They have been acquitted for lack of evidence,” defense lawyer K.K. Mishra said after the verdict.

Muslims reacted to the verdict with disappointment.

“The judgment pronounced by the special CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) court is wrong. We will appeal in the high court,” Zafaryab Jilani, general secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said.

The BJP was elated with the court’s decision.

“It is a moment of happiness for all of us; we chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ (Hail Ram) after the court’s verdict. The judgment vindicates my personal and BJP’s belief and commitment toward the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement. Along with millions of my countrymen, I now look forward to the completion of the beautiful Shri Ram Mandir (temple) at Ayodhya,” 92-year-old Advani, one of the accused in the case, said.

Another BJP leader and former party president, Murli Manohar Joshi, who was also among the accused, called the judgment “historic.”

“This proves that no conspiracy was hatched for the incident in Ayodhya. Our program and rallies were not part of any conspiracy,” Joshi, 86, said.

The verdict comes 10 months after the Supreme Court’s controversial judgment giving the disputed land to a Hindu trust and awarding five acres of land to Muslim petitioners to build a structure of their choice at another location in the city.

“It’s a betrayal by the court,” Ayodhya-based Hajji Mahboob, one of the original Muslim petitioners, told Arab News.

“So many BJP leaders have claimed openly that they were involved in demolishing the Babri Mosque. If the court gives this kind of one-sided verdict, I can only say that it is compromised,” he said.

“We know that there cannot be any justice for Muslims in this country because all the decisions given by the courts are wrong,” he added.

Reacting to the verdict, the main opposition Congress party said it was “counter to the Supreme Court judgment.” 

The apex court held that the demolition of the Babri mosque was clearly illegal and an “egregious violation of the rule of law.” 

“But the Special Court exonerated all the accused. It is clear that the decision of the Special Court runs counter to the decision of the Supreme Court,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

The demolition of the mosque was “a deep-rooted political conspiracy to destroy the country’s communal amity and brotherhood, and to usurp power at any cost,” he added.

According to Hilal Ahamd, of New Delhi-based think tank Center for the Study of Developing Societies, there is a growing belief among Muslims that India is a Hindu country and “they have to adjust themselves accordingly.”

Meanwhile, former chairman of the minority commission Zafar ul Islam Khan said the verdict will encourage the BJP to take the law into its own hands in the belief that the police and judiciary will protect them.

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi political analyst who has written several books on the Hindu right-wing politics, said: “The demolition of the mosque was a criminal offense and the failure to establish guilt after 28 years is unfortunate.”

He described the verdict as “a betrayal for Muslims and risky for the security of the country if its largest minority keeps getting marginalized like this.”