The fortnight before had been hectic. It began with an emphatic rally at Jantar Mantar in Delhi and moved on to quiz shows in Singapore and Doha. Then, I bought my ticket to New York for the United Nations General Assembly session – being one of two parliamentary representatives from India who would be at the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly. My colleague was Ananth Kumar of the BJP. We succeeded L.K. Advani (BJP) and Dharmendra Yadav (Samajwadi Party).
As a young boy, I often dreamt of playing for India – at cricket but more at football. Of course, that remained a boyhood fantasy. I simply wasn’t good enough. As such, it is more than a little humbling to contemplate I would be batting for India over the coming fortnight, in the parliament of nations, the UN – and would be reading statements on behalf of our country. I have represented my party and my state at political and legislative forums. It was my privilege that I had been allowed to make the leap to representing our country. These are not empty words. For an ordinary middle-class boy from Calcutta, this was a huge, huge honour.
As an MP, I’ve interacted with civil servants very often and very closely. The UN visit was my first extended interface with our foreign service.
As we drove to the airport, I was contemplative. I’d visited the city many times but this trip had been different. The UN was such a transformational experience; it opened so many windows in my mind. After checking in at JFK airport, I sent chief minister Mamata Banerjee – or Mamata Di as I’ve always called her – a text message: “Dear Mamata i… I’ve been on many stages and in many studios. Thank you for giving me the biggest stage of my life.” The reply was instant: “Okay. Phire esho (Come back).”
Dateline UN by Derek O'Brien
Click to end digital divide. Day Ten: They say I’ve been lucky. My 10 days at the United Nations yielded five statements to various Committees of the General Assembly, one address to the full General Assembly and a stint at the Security Council. Even though MPs from India visit the UN Headquarters every year, few are privileged with such a rich experience. Maybe I was fortunate there were only two of us for most of the period I was at the UN.
Catching up with AB! Day Nine: The day began with a statement to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly — the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee — on the subject of child rights. The focus of my speech was to urge that nurturing the demographic dividend — both India’s and the world’s — be seen not merely as a social obligation but also an economic need.
Flavour of Puja-time Bengal Day Eight: “Nomoshkar. Aaj Durga Puja, Banglar priyo utsav. Ei shubho dine aapnader shokolke janai abhinandan ar subhechha… (Nomoshkar. Today is Durga Puja, Bengal’s most cherished festival. On this auspicious day, I’d like to wish all of you the very best…”) As I finished the opening sentence, I could see delegates reach out for their earphones and the instant translation service. They relaxed as I switched to English. I relaxed too. The initial nervousness was gone. My address to the General Assembly had begun.
Statements at the United Nations
Questions relating to Information at the Special Political and Decolonization Committee Statement by Mr. Derek O'Brien, Member of Parliament and Member of the Indian delegation, on agenda item 55: Questions relating to information at the special political and decolonization [fourth] committee of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly on October 25, 2012.
Statement by Mr. Derek O'Brien, Member Of Parliament & Member of the Indian delegation, at the joint debate on agenda item 18: Macroeconomic policy questions: [a] international trade & development at the 67th session of the UN General Assembly on October 24, 2012.
Statement by Mr. Derek O'Brien, Member of Parliament and Member of the Indian delegation, on agenda item: 81 - “Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives” at the sixth committee of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly on October 24, 2012.