PM Narendra Modi’s speech at UNESCO

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In the first leg of his three-nation tour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached France on Thursday night and is expected to hold talks and consultations with French President Francois Hollande. He will also be engaging in a ‘naav pe charcha’ (chat on a boat) on the Seine river with the French premier.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the UNESCO in Paris on Friday.

Full text below:

Director General, Madam Irena BukovaExcellencies, Ladies and GentlemenI am truly honoured to address UNESCO.I feel specially privileged to visit this great institution in its 70th anniversary year.

This milestone reminds us of a fundamental achievement of our age:for the first time inhuman history, we have an organization for the entire world – the United Nations.And,through the sweeping change of these decades, through many challenges of ourtimes, and the great progress of this era, the organization has endured and grown.

There have been doubts and skepticism. There is need for urgent reforms.But, for the nations that came together at its birth; and,for three times as many that joined it later, there is one unshakeable belief:Our world is and will remain a better place because of the United Nations.It is this faith that has given birth to so many of its institutions that deal with every aspect of human challenge.

Our collective goal is to seek a peaceful and prosperous future for our world, in which every nation has a voice; all peoples have an identity; all cultures are flowers in a garden; every human being has a life of dignity; every child a future of opportunity; and our planet the chance to preserve its glory.No organization serves our cause more than this one. The seeds of our collective destiny are sown in human minds.

It is nurtured by the light of education and the spirit of enquiry. It makes progress through the marvels of science.And, it draws strength from the basic character of Nature–the harmony and unity in diversity. That is why UNESCO was among the first missions of the United Nations. That is why India values the work of UNESCO so deeply; and, cherishes our partnership so immensely.

I am conscious of the extraordinary legacy of our relationship from the time of UNESCO’s birth.I recall Mahatma Gandhi’s message to UNESCO, calling for urgent action to address the needs of education to secure lasting peace; and, the leadership of Dr.Radhakrishnan, later our President, in the early years of this institution.

We are grateful for UNESCO’s support for education and science, in India and for preservation of our cultural heritage.Equally,we are privileged to have worked with UNESCO in support of its mission around the world.For,in the challenges India faces and the dreams that Indians seek, our approach mirrors the ideals of UNESCO.

We have built a modern state in an ancient land, with a timeless tradition of openness and co-existence; and,a society of extraordinary diversity.The foundation of our Constitution rests on a fundamental principle: the peace and prosperity of all is indivisible from the welfare of the individual; the strength of the nation is determined by the joined hands of every citizen; and,real progress is measured through empowerment of the weakest.

This has been our creed since we assumed office nearly a year ago.And,we shall judge our progress not just by the cold statistics of growth,but by the warm glow of belief and hope on human faces.

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