DIPLOMACY

DIPLOMACY

Ambassador Arindam Bagchi © A.Bagchi

Insights into the Indian Mission
Getting the lowdown from Ambassador Arindam Bagchi, Permanent Representative of India to the UN in Geneva
1 Jun 2024

Your excellency, please tell us how you came to work in diplomacy?

Ever since childhood I was attracted to public service and the possibility of making a contribution to the socio-economic development of my country. This led to me taking the Civil Services Examination conducted by our independent 

Public Service Commission for recruitment into the higher civil services, and then on to a career in the Indian Foreign Service. Over the years, as India’s engagement with the outside world has increased, the role of diplomacy in our national priorities has increased massively. It is now nearly three decades since I first became a diplomat and it has become a way of life for me.

What are your priorities for India on the global stage at the United Nations in Geneva?

India has a common approach that continues to shape our priorities at multilateral forums as well as in our engagement with our partners bilaterally and across domains. This is rooted in our overarching objective of achieving rapid socio-economic development of our people and in partnering with other countries towards securing a better future for all of humankind. Our focus on highlighting the aspirations of the Global South, of giving a chance to diplomacy and of prioritizing peace and dialogue, are just some elements of this.

As a founding member of the United Nations, India firmly remains committed to multilateral diplomacy in efforts to deal with major challenges to international peace and security, along with sustainable and inclusive development and the global promotion and protection of fundamental human rights. In order to achieve this, it is important that we recognize that for multilateralism to be credible, effective and responsive, we must reform outdated structures and fix systemic flaws, so that multilateral frameworks reflect current global realities. 

As multiple global crises expose global inequities, I believe the need for this approach is more urgent than ever before. Here in Geneva, we engage intensively with the numerous international organizations based here, many of them undertaking technical work with important implications. We will continue to support the work of the UNHRC in its efforts to promote all fundamental human rights through a non-intrusive, collaborative and consultative approach. We accord high priority to the areas of health, labor, telecommunications, intellectual property, trade, sustainable development and refugees and migration, to name but a few. Given our success in leveraging digital tools for improving governance on a large scale, we will particularly focus on the digital sector as an important tool in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In summary, the essence of our approach is well encapsulated in our Prime Minister’s vision of inclusive development with everyone’s participation, trust and contribution. While this vision provides the path for India on its unique journey towards development, it will also continue to guide our priorities here at the UN in Geneva.

Given the globally renowned cultural and religious diversity in your country, what are the current challenges this poses?

As you rightly said, India is globally renowned for its diversity. Home to one-sixth of humanity, we have an immense diversity of languages, religions, customs and beliefs, essentially a microcosm of the world. But while some may see this diversity and pluralism as a challenge, we see it as a strength. As we speak, 960 million voters from these diverse backgrounds are exercising their right to vote in the general elections, participating in the biggest celebration of democracy in the world. It is truly a festival of democracy, where every voice resonates and every vote counts. This diversity is therefore the hallmark of our great democracy, continually guiding it forward, tempering our resilience and showcasing the power of people to shape their collective future.

The Taj Mahal, located on the south bank of the Yamuna
river in the Indian city of Agra, Uttar Pradesh © Shutterstock

What has been the secret to India’s economic momentum and its reputation as an emerging global market?

India’s economic momentum is driven by a multitude of important factors. Firstly, there is a stable polity at the national level providing strong institutions, an investment friendly climate and a well regulated market. India also enjoys stable macroeconomic parameters including low inflation, a stable exchange rate, and attractive capital markets.

There has also been a marked increase in business opportunities, through a massive upscaling of infrastructure, digitalization and tax reforms such as the nationwide Goods and Services Tax and close coordination with the states (provinces). India also has a large youth population with a median age of 29 years, which drives consumption and savings, adapts quickly to new technology, welcomes innovation, and exudes optimism.

And finally, there is trust that the Government is doing all it can to promote growth and development. It is expected that the Indian economy will continue to grow in the coming years, with India set to become the third largest economy in the world during the next few years.

The world celebrates the International Day of Yoga on 21 June. How important is this physical, mental and spiritual practice to your culture?

Yoga embodies a holistic approach to wellness encompassing physical, mental and spiritual realms. Its origins can be traced back to the wisdom of ancient Indian texts. Over millennia, yoga has evolved into a comprehensive system of philosophy and practice, offering diverse paths for individuals to embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-transformation.

At its core, yoga comprises a vast array of techniques and disciplines aimed at harmonizing the mind, body and spirit. Physical postures (asanas) not only promote strength, flexibility and balance but also facilitate the free flow of energy within the body. Breath control (pranayama) enhances vitality and mental clarity, while meditation cultivates inner peace and self-awareness. Additionally, the ethical precepts of yoga guide practitioners towards virtuous living and compassionate action throughout the world.

The International Day of Yoga serves as a testament to India’s commitment to sharing the timeless wisdom of yoga with the global community. By promoting this ancient practice on an international platform we seek to foster unity, understanding and mutual respect among peoples of diverse cultures and backgrounds. Moreover, yoga offers practical solutions to address contemporary challenges such as stress, anxiety and lifestyle-related diseases, making it increasingly relevant in today’s fast-paced world.

Finally, what are your hopes and goals for India as a country in the future?

As India continues its journey of inclusive economic growth, we look forward to granting our citizens more individual opportunities and a better quality of life for all. We also look forward to this journey taking place within the context of our democracy and pluralism alongside environmental sustainability, technological innovation and a continuing synthesis of India’s rich cultural heritage with modernity.

In the international context, India’s commitment to peace, sustainable development and inclusivity will ensure that the country can continue to serve as a force for global good. As our capacities and capabilities increase, our contribution in assisting other countries and addressing global challenges will also increase simultaneously. I am sure India will continue to play a constructive role on the global stage, promoting peace, cooperation and sustainable development for all. 

* Julián Ginzo is a member of the Editorial Board of UN Today.
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