Mr. A. Gopinathan, United Nations
Mr. Gopinathan has been working since January 2013 as one of the eleven Inspectors with the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations system [UN-JIU], which is located in Geneva. Prior to this, he used to be the Ambassador/Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva from January 2009 to December 2011, when he retired from the Indian Foreign Service on superannuation.
Participants: Amrita University E4Life Sustainable Development PhD scholars and AMMACHI Labs staff (40 participants)
Objective: To give PhD scholars a general understanding of how the UN works especially in relation to India.
UN Inspector Mr. A. Gopinathan gave a lecture to the Amrita University PhD students on ‘Modern India in Today’s World: a practitioner’s perspective
In life we rarely meet such people who are intellectually brilliant, inspiring, and with a will and commitment to bring about change in the world. Mr. Gopinathan has been working since January 2013 as one of the eleven Inspectors with the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations system [UN-JIU], which is located in Geneva. Prior to this, he used to be the Ambassador/Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva from January 2009 to December 2011, when he retired from the Indian Foreign Service on superannuation.
Mr. Gopinathan gave us a candid insider’s perspective on the following topics:
Conception of “modern India”
Conception of the United Nations system as a ‘proxy’ for ‘today’s world’
Evolution of ‘India’s role’ in the United Nations system over the decades
Sustainable Development: concept, evolution, India’s contribution
He also answered many questions from the participants, here are a few from the chat:
Question: One of the UN’s criticism is that except UN Security Council, none of its decisions are enforceable. Doesn’t that take its efficacy low?
Answer: Yes and no: no, because the United Nations has no means at its disposal for enforcing implementation of its resolutions, except those under Chapter VII of the Security Council. However, as resolutions do reflect the collective will of the membership of the United Nations, resolutions of the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and their subsidiary organs have often been regarded as having the force of customary International Law.
Question: You mentioned that one of the key issues for the sustainability in India is poverty.
Answer: The then prime Minister of India had told the 1972 Stockholm conference that “poverty is the greatest polluter”. Yet in the West the main issue could be considered to be desire and consumerism.
Question: Do you believe India will learn from the mistakes and lessons learnt in the west relating to sustainability and the environment?
Answer: The documents adopted during the initial years (1986 – 1995) show us that “unsustainable patterns of production and consumption” had been the main causes of environmental degradation in the industrialized countries; very little has been done to reverse this situation in countries such as the United States.
Outcome: PhD scholars asked many questions and now have a broad understanding of how India and the United Nations work together to problem solve. Mr. Gopinathan has made himself available as a resource in the future.