New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said eradication of poverty remains the greatest unfinished business of the 20th century and the most important unfulfilled objective of the United Nations.
Addressing the 70th anniversary meeting of United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNECOSOC) by video link, Modi said the council's work will not be complete till there were people in the world who remain deprived of human amenities.
Modi said the work of UNECOSOC - particularly the manner in which it advances the improvement in the human condition and ensures a life of dignity for all - is central to the overall agenda of the United Nations.
"But has the UNECOSOC managed to fulfil the expectations of our founders? While we have seen remarkable progress over these 70 years, eradication of poverty remains the greatest unfinished business of the 20th century. It is also the most important unfulfilled objective of the United Nations," Modi said.
The prime minister said the 70th anniversary of UNECOSOC should be used to rejuvenate the council, to make it more action oriented, policy relevant and more responsive to the needs and aspirations of our people.
"In doing so, the guiding philosophy of the UNECOSOC must always be the welfare of the poorest of the poor, or 'antyodaya' in Indian thought," the prime minister said.
The special meeting to mark the the 70th anniversary of the council was held in New York.
Modi said UNECOSOC was a key pillar of the United Nations structure. "Its creation as a distinct part of United Nations is a testimony to the centrality of development in the vision of the founders of the UN," Modi said.
"To achieve a peaceful and prosperous world, we need to put in place, first and foremost, conditions for rapid socio-economic development; improvement in the human condition, and an end to hunger and deprivation," he added.
Recalling India's contribution to the creation of UNECOSOC, Modi said an eminent citizen of India, Arcot Ramaswamy Mudaliar, was a key architect of UNECOSOC and served as its first president at the inaugural session in 1946.
The prime minister said the 70th anniversary of the UNECOSOC could not have come at a more appropriate moment.
"The international community has just given to itself a new comprehensive vision of development. The '2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development' presents a valuable opportunity for the UN system to rethink its role and purpose and make itself more effective.
It is now the responsibility of UNECOSOC to rise up to this challenge and contribute to making this agenda a success," he said.
Modi said the developing world not only have to end poverty, it has to do so in a manner that is friendly to the planet and environment.
He said the developed countries face responsibilities to rapidly move their economies on to a sustainable path, follow sustainable lifestyles and assist developing countries with finance and technologies.
Modi said technology presents solutions that were unthinkable earlier and the challenge was to channelise the available resources and use technology to tackle the most urgent problems facing people.
"So long as there is poverty in the world, so long as our people, no matter in which country, remain deprived of basic human amenities, freedoms, rights and opportunities, the work of the UNECOSOC will not be complete," he said.