United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on Tuesday and said that the elimination of open defecation should be central to efforts to improve sanitation.
“This practice poses a serious threat to children, contributing to the diarrhoea and malnutrition and stunting that has a lifelong impact,” Guterres said at the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he had a “wonderful meeting with the Secretary-General”.
“We discussed a wide range of issues pertaining to global peace and prosperity,” he said, adding, “We are extremely grateful to him for coming to India for the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention.”
Guterres began his second-day of India visit – his first since becoming the UN Secretary-General – on Tuesday by paying tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat in New Delhi and hailed him as a “great soul” and humanity’s “guide in our troubled world”.
He, later in an interaction with PTI, denounced terrorism as a “plague” that affects the world, and highlighted the significance of the principle of non-violence espoused by Gandhi.
“I feel extremely honoured to pay tribute to this great figure in world history. Today (2 October) also marks the International Day of Non-violence. And, as we continue our work to advance peace, the way to realise the objectives is through non-violence,” he said.
“I pay tribute to this greatest soul that has ever lived. Our guide… in our troubled world,” he wrote in the visitor’s book.
At an event today, Guterres said that India is the best place for the creation of factors of equilibrium to create multi-polar world due to its dimension, technological capacity and geo-strategic location.
“India is absolutely essential component of future multi-polar world,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
In the evening Guterres witnessed the inauguration of the first assembly of International Solar Alliance at Vigyan Bhavan.
“We can’t meet goals for peace and prosperity on a healthy planet without reducing greenhouse gas emissions warming our planet beyond tolerable levels,” Guterres said in his speech.
“We know what we need to do. What we lack is political commitment to make transformative decisions to safer planet,” he added.
Ahead of his visit, Guterres had said that India was an “important partner” of the UN in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism.
He also said there were plans to step up cooperation between the UN and India on strengthening capacity in combating terror financing.
A senior official at the UN India Office here said Guterres was leading a small delegation to India during his visit and is scheduled to depart from the country on Wednesday.