New Delhi, Apr 27 - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today hoped that India would find a way to build and strengthen partnerships of common ground with its neighbours and encouraged it to do "even more" in advancing peace and security.
He also told India that it was imperative for the country to tackle its own human rights challenge through legislation, policy and action to protect citizens regardless of gender, identity or social origin though every country faces such challenges.
Addressing a gathering after being conferred Degree for Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) by Jamia Millia Islamia, he said, "I believe India will also find the way to build and strengthen partnerships of common ground with your neighbours.
"I knew there are many challenges, but I see a future of steadily warmer ties built on a shared heritage and a common future," he said.
As the world looks ahead, Ban said, he would encourage India as a "regional and global force" to do "even more" in advancing peace and security, in sharing its experiences and in deepening south-south cooperation.
Ban lauded the "Indian progress" and "Indian leadership" in eradicating polio and hoped that same would be achieved in eradicating other diseases.
He reminded India that it has to do lot more in eradicating maternal mortality rate and reduce the number of children dying due to preventable diseases.
Lauding India's "rich tradition of outstanding" women leaders, he termed the election of 10 lakh women to village councils as a "remarkable achievement".
"But if we make progress on women's and children's health, we can unleash progress across the Millennium Development Goals," he said.
Contending that worries about economic uncertainties and about corruption have raised questions whether institutions are up to the task, Ban said old order is breaking and "we do not yet know the shape of the new."
"The 21st century mix of change and challenge brings me to India. You are the world's largest democracy. You are an emerging economic leader. You are a superpower on the information superhighway. You are a beacon for the world -- proving that democracy and development are one and the same path," he said.
Noting that tolerance is being tested here and around the world, Ban said it is crucial for India to pass those tests -- not only for the country but for our world in which the country's profile is so distinct and admired.
On economic slowdown and inequality, Ban said growth was alone not enough and that the world needs inclusive growth that reduces inequalities and moves people from the "margins to the mainstream".
"That is why we have made the challenge of sustainable development the leading priority of the United Nations," he said.
The UN chief also focused on energy security and said has a "key role" to play at the Rio de Janeiro for the Earth Summit to set the world on a more "sustainable path" of development.
He said the 21st century economy cannot be powered without sustainable energy as 1.4 billion around the world are still living in the dark and noted 55 per cent of the rural population in India lacks electricity.
Ban also said that it was time for a new generation of Indians to write a "new and dramatic chapter in your nation's history." "The main thread in that story will be India's role in a wider world. India as a global power, and yourselves as global citizens," he said.
He also asked youth to look beyond their community and country and be a global citizen. "I call today's youth Generation UN -- a generation that is global, a generation that understands our common bonds and a generation that is fluent in networks," he said. PTI