The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, delivered a lecture at Havana University in Cuba yesterday (June 22, 2018) on the subject – “India and the Global South”.
The President said that the subject – “India and the Global South” – he has chosen to speak on happens to be central to both Cuban and Indian foreign policy. And it is an area of multilateral engagement, where we have seen real and robust impact of India-Cuba close cooperation, with both countries playing a stellar role in powering South-South Cooperation and standing up for a stronger voice for the Global South or Developing Countries. The solidarity of the Global South lay at the heart of the international vision of great leader and statesman of Cuba, Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. He said, his talk was a tribute to Fidel Castro’s contribution and vision to make the world a better place for the citizens of the developing world.
The President said that the values of South-South Cooperation have stood us in good stead. Mutual respect and solidarity among developing countries form the core of it. The success of South-South Cooperation must encourage our developed country partners to see how best these modalities can be utilized by them as well. The decision of the United Nations for hosting the second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation in Buenos Aires in 2019 is a welcome move.
The President said that development partnership secures the interests of the Global South, but only partially. We have to work together to push for greater space for developing countries in global governance structures. In this context, we must give a greater push for reform of the United Nations including the Security Council. Similarly, the Bretton Woods Institutions must factor in the growing weight of the countries of the South in their decision making. Alongside our reform agenda, we must counter any move to weaken multilateralism. Preserving a rules-based global trading order remains critical to promote the interests of developing countries. At the World Trade Organization Doha Round of Negotiations, it is essential that issues of food security and livelihoods are given utmost sanctity.
The President said that globalization may have lifted millions out of poverty but the unmet needs in developing countries still remain. The growth agenda centered on poverty eradication, therefore, must be at the heart of the global development discourse. We must also push for greater availability of finance and technology to help developing countries combat Climate Change and meet their development needs.
The President said that the Global South has come a long way in its journey since the 1960’s. Today, the Group stands stronger and taller. It is a diverse Group with countries at various levels of development. But it is important that the unity of the Group be preserved. That’s how we can strengthen multilateralism and promote Right to Development for all.
Earlier in the day (22.06.2018), the President was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Revolution Palace. Subsequently, he led the delegation level talks with the Cuban side led by President Diaz-Canel. Both sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and exchanged views on global issues of mutual concern.
Both countries agreed to enhance cooperation in the fields of Biotechnology, Renewable Energy, Traditional Medicine and Trade and Investment. Two MOUs were signed in the areas of Biotechnology and Traditional Medicine and Homeopathy. President Kovind was accompanied by 9 Indian biotechnology companies on this visit and these companies had engaging discussions with their Cuban counterparts. Both countries thus set the stage for making significant progress in biotechnology cooperation.
President Kovind thanked President Diaz-Canel for Cuba’s becoming a founding member of the International Solar Alliance and sought his support to help the Alliance combat Climate Change. India offered a Line of Credit of US Dollars 75 million to support a 100 Mega Watt solar power project in Cuba. India also offered additional 10 slots to Cuba under the ITEC programme, taking the total annual scholarships given to Cuba to 70.
Both Leaders also conveyed their continued commitment to the reform of the UN Security Council. Cuba reiterated support for India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the Security Council.
On the issue of terrorism, both sides conveyed their deepest concern on terrorism and the grave threat it poses to humanity. They agreed to work closely to develop a strong global response to fighting terrorism. In this context, both sides called for early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the United Nations.
The President will leave for New Delhi after a successful conclusion of his state visit to three countries- Greece, Suriname and Cuba. He is expected to reach New Delhi on 24.06.2018.