Prime Minister Narendra Modi will give his virtual address at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Saturday. He has been scheduled as the first speaker in the forenoon, which, by IST, should be around 6.30pm, though the exact schedule is yet to be confirmed.

Unlike Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose address revolved mainly around India baiting, India is likely to use the general debate of the 75th anniversary of the UN as a platform to articulate a larger worldview, spelling out its international priorities.

India joins the coveted United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as a non-permanent member for two years, beginning January 2021, and Modi is expected to talk about India’s role in this grouping. India’s priorities are inclusive and responsible solutions for international peace and security, effective response to international terrorism and that newly formulated approach of reformed multilateralism, termed NORMS (New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System). India has a 5-S approach of Samman (respect), Samvaad (dialogue), Sahyog (cooperation), Shanti (peace) and Samriddhi (prosperity) towards multilateralism.

Apart from spelling out in detail how India plans to utilise its two-year tenure in the UNSC, Modi is also expected to talk about other priority issues for India, like strengthening global action against terrorism, South-South development and India’s engagement on issues related to sustainable development and climate change mitigation. Modi could also talk about India’s role as a net health service provider, a role that has come to focus during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with India providing generic medicines to several countries. Many of these consignments have gone as gifts from India to needy friends. Not only is India today positioned as the ‘pharmacy of the world’, but its contribution to health aid in the form of doctors, nurses and paramedics has also been acknowledged. Several countries are arranging special visa provisions for entry of health workers from India. In many countries, India has sent medical teams to help with capacity building, too.

As among the largest contributors of troops to the UN peacekeeping missions, India may also seek a greater role on finalising mandates of the missions. Modi’s recorded address will also likely touch upon achievements in women-led development.

Will he counter Imran Khan’s diatribe against India on Friday? The Indian delegation had to stage a walkout following Khan’s relentless India bashing. Modi, will, anyway be touching upon demanding greater transparency in the process of listing and delisting of entities and individuals in sanctions committees. The nudge to Pakistan will be clear enough in just this, even if he doesn’t take on Imran Khan headlong.

The theme of this year’s UNGA is “The future we want, the United Nations we need, reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism—confronting the COVD 19 through effective multilateral action”.