Monday, November 29, 1999

India-led UN panel faces fund challenge

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New Delhi, June 17 -- Having fought its way through an election to the International Programme for Development of Communications (IPDC), India will now have to work hard to generate half-a-million dollars for the UNESCO panel. "We have about $2 million and we will be comfortable if we can get to $2.5 million," UNESCO's Director for Communications Development Wijayanandana Jayaweera told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday. He also emphasised that the primary role of the IPDC president was to help the UN panel get funds. In March this year, Information and Broadcasting Secretary Raghu Menon took charge as IPDP president after India forced an election in the panel for the first time since its inception six years ago. Earlier, there was no process of election in the UN panel. India, however, changed the system when it challenged the sitting incumbent, Switzerland. In the ensuing polls, Switzerland could only manage to get 14 of the 39 votes. Analysts say heading the panel will improve India's clout in the neighbourhood. Officials say that should the panel eventually develop substantial influence in global affairs, as several other UN panels have, India's stronghold from the beginning will prove useful.

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