Addresses delivered in the general policy debate by the Head of Delegation at the General Conference
37 session of the General Conference His Excellency, Mr Shashi Tharoor, Minister of Human Resources Development of India Speech delivered during the General Policy Debate of the 37th session of the General Conference - revised and corrected version of the verbatim records of plenary meetings
36 session of the General Conference H.E. Mr Kapil Sibal, Minister of Human Resources Development Speech delivered during the General Policy Debate of the 36th session of the General Conference and posted as received
35 session of the General Conference H.E. Mr Kapil Sibal, Minister of Human Resources Development
“It is in a spirit of humility in the name of Mahatma Ghandi, India has brought (…) its proposal for the establishment of the Mahatma Ghandi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development as a category 1 institute of UNESCO. When established, this will be the first category 1 institute in Asia (…).”
“As the Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the South-South Cooperation Programme/Fund, India looks forward to the early implementation of fund-raising strategy (…) at its last session and raising the profile of the unique South-South Fund in the field of education (…).”
“We recently passed the historic Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 to create a legal entitlement for compulsory and free education to all children between the ages of 6 to 14. We recently also revamped and relaunched the National Literacy Mission with the focus on women called Shakshar Bharat. (…) Bridging the technological divide is a major challenge for the international science community (…). To take this forward, UNESCO should launch a project involving 1 billion of the most deprived and seek help of Member States to develop an ecosystem through which they are empowered. “Project 1 billion” should be a flagship programme that provides access to affordable technologies for everyday solutions. All technological enterprises must have a twofold objective. One is to conquer the barriers of knowledge through technological solutions and the other to foster the growth of knowledge through ordinary solutions.”
“The S in UNESCO stands for science. The S also stands for solutions. Such solutions need to be sustainable. (…). Solutions for the less developed world with sustainable existing lifestyles requiring investments, technology transfer and human resource development. UNESCO can play a significant role in developing global understanding for the disparate nature both of the challenges and the solutions.”
“India also welcomes operationalization of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. An important development was the establishment of the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity with two inscriptions from India, one of which is the multinational nomination of Nowrouz, along with Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Turkey, and the other entitled Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas.”
“The Chairman of the Executive Board, Ambassador Yaï of Benin, to whom we also pay tribute, took the timely initiative for UNESCO to commemorate the contribution of Rabindranath Tagore, Pablo Neruda and Aimé Césaire for a reconciled universal. It is only appropriate therefore that UNESCO would commemorate the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa in 2010 and the 150th anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in 2011, both initiatives brought by India.”
“At the heart of a global community free from conflict is the spirit of non-violence of the message of the Mahatma. (…) President Obama in a recent response to a question from a student at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia in the United States said that Ghandi ended up doing so much in changing the world just by the power of his ethics. (…) At the heart of the concept of non-violence and sustainable development is the ethical principle. This is the ethic of moral stances. It is this spirit that must be propagated through UNESCO.”
34 session of the General Conference H.E. Mr Shri Arjun Singh, Minister of Human Resource Development
India warmly welcomes Singapore’s re-entry into UNESCO.
The world rapidly changes. Some of the changes have helped to reduce literacy and disease and lead to the spread of knowledge. But not all changes are positive: There are still across the world pockets of abject poverty. UNESCO, the heart and mind of the United Nations system, must be equipped to address these challenges.
The thematic debate this year is a positive step towards understanding UNESCO’s contribution in facing challenges of knowledge societies and global climate change. The Executive Board, as initiated by the Asia-Pacific Group, invites UNESCO to continue its global effort to address climate change within its mandate and competencies.
“South-South cooperation and North-South-South cooperation, particularly for education, is a key mandate of UNESCO. India is glad that its contribution of US $20,000, the first such contribution, has led to the establishment of the South-South cooperation fund in education.”
“Literacy is one of our core mandates, as are technical and vocational education, skills formation, non-formal education and adult education.”
“The lack of resources and donor fatigue pose a serious challenge for further expansion of EFA in the E-9 countries. The General Conference must set the tone for the discussions of the High-Level Group on EFA in December 2007.”
“We are targeting an increase of gross enrolment ratio for higher education from the present 10% to at least 15% in the next five years. We are also working towards increasing the public expenditures on education to the level of 6 % over this period. ”
UNESCO should not forget its mission in the science education and research encouragement. India remains committed to Major Programmes II and III.
Some years ago, India hosted a ministerial conference on the dialogue among civilizations. The complexities of promoting such a dialogue can be addressed to the New Delhi Declaration and through actions in UNESCO’s programme.
India is also concerned at the perceived shift in UNESCO’s policy regarding protection of cultural objects and their return to their place of origin. For this reason, India along with Greece, Iraq, Italy, Mexico and Senegal, have inscribed a new agenda item on this issue at this session of the General Conference on enhancing the protection of cultural objects through the fight against illicit trafficking in them and the development of museums in developing countries. UNESCO must play a lead role on this matter.
The preservation and celebration of the world’s tangible and intangible heritage is the most public face of UNESCO. The Organisation should strengthen the World Heritage Centre and maintain its flexibility. India is home to 22 historical cultural sites and five natural sites, with the Red Fort at Delhi being the most recent addition to the Heritage List.
Celebration of anniversaries 50th anniversary of the death of Dr Homi Jehangir Bhabha, scientist (1909-1966) (2016)
Dr Homi Jahangir Bhabha was an Indian nuclear physicist and the founding Director of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Trombay Atomic Energy Establishment. He established the Cosmic Ray Research Unit at the Indian Institute of Science and began to work on the theory of the movement of point particles. In addition, he served as president of the United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva in 1955.
Dr Bhabha derived a correct expression for the probability of scattering positrons by electrons, a process now known as Bhabha scattering. His major contribution included his work on Compton scattering, R-process, and furthermore the advancement of nuclear physics. He was awarded Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1954; he served as the member of the Indian Cabinet’s Scientific Advisory Committee and provided the pivotal role to Vikram Sarabhai to set up the Indian National Committee for Space Research.
Therefore, the celebration of this anniversary effectively contributes to the goals of UNESCO Member States.50th anniversary of the International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE) for conducting experiments on ocean research for the period 1962-65 (2016)
The International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE) of 1959-1965 was one of the greatest international, interdisciplinary oceanographic undertakings of all time embracing physical and chemical oceanography, meteorology, marine biology, marine geology and geophysics. Forty-six research vessels under 13 different flags undertook research that extended over 320 cruise months, including an unprecedented number of hydrographic surveys (and repeat surveys) that covered the entire Indian Ocean basin. They were supported by research facilities ashore.
Co-sponsored by UNESCO and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), IIOE pinpointed the need for dynamic and coordinated intergovernmental action and resulted in the recommendation of the Copenhagen Conference in July 1960 that the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) be established, within the framework of UNESCO, with the task of promoting concerted action of Member States in the field of oceanographic research.
The IOC Assembly at its 27th session in June 2013 endorsed the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2) as IIOE 50th Anniversary Initiative for the period 2015-2020. The IIOE-2 Interim Planning Committee co-sponsored by SCOR, IOC, and the Indian Ocean Global Ocean System agrees that new frontiers of knowledge lie in the domains of Indian Ocean oceanographic and coupled climatic processes and marine ecosystems. Focusing on these scientific challenges and capitalizing on technological advancements since the original IIOE, makes it possible to address a number of key socio-economic and environmental issues of prime interest to Indian Ocean rim and island countries as well as adjacent regions. International collaboration and capacity-building would facilitate the exchange of information and lead to associated benefits for a wider circle of stakeholders. The IOC Assembly at its 28th session in June 2015 further reviewed and endorsed the proposal for IIOE-2, including its launch at Goa, India, on 4 December 2015, thanks to the generous offers of India and Australia to support the IIOE-2 by hosting a new International Project Office in Hyderabad and by continuing the coordination function of the Perth Programme Office, respectively.150th anniversary of the birth of Swami Vivekananda, philosopher and spiritual thinker (1863-1902) (2013)
Swami Vivekananda is considered a key figure in the introduction of Hindu philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga in Europe and America and is also credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major religion during the end of the nineteenth century. He is considered to be a major force in the revival of Hinduism in modern India. He is perhaps best known for his inspiring speech beginning with “Sisters and Brothers of America”, through which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.
“Jiva is Shiva”, each individual is divinity itself, is a central thought to Vivekananda’s teaching.
Several leaders of twentieth century India and philosophers have acknowledged Vivekananda’s influence. He is widely considered to have inspired India’s freedom struggle movement. Vivekananda inspired Jamshedji Tata to set up Indian Institute of Science, one of India’s finest Institutions. Above all he helped restore a sense of pride amongst the Hindus, presenting the ancient teachings of India in its purest form to a Western audience.
Swami Vivekananda’s ideas have had a great influence on Indian youth. In many institutes, students have come together and formed organizations meant for promoting discussion of spiritual ideas and the practice of such high principles.
Swami Vivekananda was the first Indian to be invited to accept the chair of Oriental Philosophy at Harvard.
As such, this request is in line with the priorities of document 35 C/5 (building a culture of peace and promoting intercultural dialogue, on the basis of human rights and philosophy)100th anniversary of the birth of Amrita Sher-Gil, painter (1913-1941) (2013)
Amrita Sher-Gil (1913-1941) was a renowned Indian painter and one of the most promising Indian artists of the pre-colonial era. Born from a Sikh aristocrat father and a Hungarian pianist mother, she spent her life in Hungary, Italy, France and India. Most of her paintings reflect vividly her love for the country and more importantly her response to the life of its people. At the end of her brief life the subject of her paintings were the poor, the villagers and beggars. This gave her the opportunity to achieve the simplicity she always wanted in her paintings. Her contribution to exploring new paths for artistic creation is internationally recognized.
||150th anniversary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore, thinker, philosopher and poet (1861-1941) (2011)
Rabindranath Tagore (Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, 1861-1941), poet, music teacher, playwright, visual artist, was a myriad-minded personality who experimented in all fields of creativity, and who authored more than 250 books, the most famous being Gitanjali (1912) that won him the Nobel Prize in 1913. Rabindranath Tagore created an alternative education system; developed rural reconstruction services; set up a school on traditional lines in 1901 which grew organically into a university in 1921 and is now an institution of national importance in India. Tagore was also a cultural reformer and polymath who modernized Bengali art. His paintings and songs have unleashed new horizons of experience. His significant work, which has earned him universal respect and admiration, provides a philosophical system emblematic of Asian civilizations. It addresses all the issues and social contradictions underlying the struggle for political independence and respect for cultural and linguistic identity, while offering ideals and practices based on tolerance and dialogue with the West. A contemporary of Gandhi and Nehru, a friend of Einstein and of many artists and scientists, a member of the International Institute for Intellectual Cooperation (IICI) which preceded the creation of UNESCO, this humanist in search of the universal continues, moreover, to have an impact on the international community as a whole.
||100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa (1910-1997) (India, with the support of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) (2010)
Mother Teresa, the renowned Roman Catholic nun and missionary, was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910. In 1928 she went to India, where she devoted herself to helping the destitute. In 1948 she became an Indian citizen and founded the order of Missionaries of Charity in Kolkota (Calcutta) in 1950, which became noted for its work among the poor and the dying in that city. For over 45 years she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first in India and then in other countries, including hospices and homes for the poorest and homeless. Mother Teresa’s work has been recognized and acclaimed throughout the world and she has received a number of awards and distinctions, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna in 1980 for her humanitarian work, the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (1971), the Nehru Prize for her promotion of international peace and understanding (1972) and the Balzan Prize (1979). Following her death she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. She had always stated, “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world”. Her tomb in the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity quickly became a place of pilgrimage and prayer for people of all faiths, rich and poor alike. Mother Teresa left a testament of unshakeable faith, invincible hope and extraordinary charity as a “mother of the poor”. She became a living symbol of compassion to the world, and a living witness to the thirsting love of God.
Mother Teresa’s message is fully in accordance with the UNESCO Constitution, and this celebration in 2010 will be a good opportunity to explain to young generations her message of compassion, tolerance, mutual respect, solidarity and peace. The commemoration of this anniversary would help to further disseminate globally Mother Teresa’s universal message.
125th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi (1994)
A visionary head of State, freedom fighter in his own country and abroad, and tireless advocate of justice and human rights, Mahatma Gandhi in the course of his life took up some of the most difficult political, economic and social challenges by, indefatigably, applying a strategy of non-violent action.
The life of Mahatma Gandhi, nourished by a great spirituality, is a powerful example of a culture of peace, both instituted and lived, a source of inspiration for those who seek peaceful solutions to conflicts in today’s world.
India is proposing to establish a national committee in order to draw up a programme of activities. It seeks UNESCO’s co-operation, among other things, in the organization of an international seminar on Gandhian thought, the release of a commemorative coin, and the translation of Gandhi’s selected writings to the Organization’s official languages.
25th anniversary of the establishment of Auroville (1993)
An exception to the rule of the anniversary being a centenary is
allowed in the case of newly formed States, and India achieved its
independence in 1947. The depth of the vision of its founders is
attested to by their conception of a new type of collective life
which would be inspired by the ideals of liberty, equality and
In 1983, the General Conference recognized that Auroville seeks to
ensure international understanding, peace, innovative education, a
learning society and all-round material and spiritual development
for harmonious individual and collective growth; noted that the
work at Auroville aims at restoring the ecological balance of a
severely deforested and eroded land by an extensive programme of
afforestation, erosion control and soil conservation and also by
initiating a new approach to integrated rural and educational
development; and appreciated the experimentation in Auroville in
alternative sources of energy and of economic development
permitting the free pooling of resources and co-operative
activities. These aims have an indubitable link, then as now, with
UNESCO’s programmes and contribute to the advancement of the
objectives of UNESCO.
As it is stated in its Charter, Auroville belongs to nobody in
particular but to humanity as a whole. At present its upwards of
700 residents represent more than 25 nationalities.
Reference document: 136 EX/30
100th anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru’s birth (India) (1989)
Reference document: 126 EX/Decisions + CORR. 1 & 2.
100th anniversary of the birth of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a distinguished teacher, philosopher and statesman of his time (India) (1988)
Reference document: 129 EX/Decisions.
100th anniversary of the birth of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a leading scholar and educationist (India) (1988)
Reference document: 129 EX/Decisions.
100th anniversary of the death of Mirza Asadullah Ghalib, poet of the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent (India) (1969)
Reference document: 15 C/Resolutions
100th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi (India) (1969)
Reference document: 14 C/5
||100th anniversary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore (Cuba and India) (1961)
Reference document: 57 EX/21