New Delhi: Amid the global economic downturn, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday said the Indian economy and society are resilient enough to overcome the “present adversities”, and pitched for a proactive foreign policy to shape “a favourable external environment” for India to deal with economic and security challenges.
“Our economy, our polity and our society are resilient enough to overcome the present adversities. India’s future growth and development depends substantially on a favourable external environment,” Manmohan Singh said on the opening day of the fourth conference of Indian heads of mission here which is being attended by 117 Indian envoys.
He stressed that for foreign policy to effectively serve domestic growth needs, it is imperative that efforts are equally geared toward finding economic opportunities in trade and financial flows.
The foreign policy, he stressed, should also help in the search for privileged access to critical or rare natural resources – which could be sources of energy or other minerals vital for modern industries.
Stressing that the imperatives of India’s foreign policy have not changed despite the changing international landscape, Manmohan Singh said: “Security against external threats, economic prosperity and sharing in global public goods remain the central impulses.”
“A dynamic environment, however, demands constant fine-tuning of the instruments of policy. We must also not remain content with making the best of a difficult external environment, but instead attempt to actively shape a favourable external environment for India,” he said.
The envoys later called on President Pranab Mukherkee who stressed that despite current economic difficulties, “the growth story of India is still unfolding and there was no need for any despondency”.
Stressing that “there is absolutely no need to press any panic button,” Mukherjee stressed that many of India’s strategic partners such as Europe and the US are presently in a situation of deep economic crisis and asked them to advise the government on the changes that policy makers should anticipate in these countries.
Inaugurating the conference, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna echoed the same message, saying that an important objective continues to be creation of an external enabling environment for country’s transformation through inclusive growth.
Describing “India-China relations as one of the most important bilateral relationships in the 21st century,” Krishna said while India is “reasonably satisfied” with the progress in the second round of the resumed dialogue with Pakistan, the path ahead will not be easy.
“We are reasonably satisfied at the progress achieved in the last round of the resumed dialogue, given the complexities of the issues that we face, in our relations with Pakistan,” Krishna told the envoys.
The conference seeks to discuss an entire gamut of foreign policy issues that include UN reforms, counter-terrorism, nuclear proliferation, India’s relations with neighbouring countries, the situation in West Asia, India-China relations and India-Pakistan relations.
Projecting India as an “engine of progress” for neighbouring countries, the prime minister also stressed that India has worked towards “establishing friendly and cooperative ties with our neighbours” and emphasised the idea of establishing greater connectivity in South Asia to promote the movement of goods, services, investment and technology.
The envoys’ conference is part of the government’s strategy to make Indian diplomacy more people-centric and to refurbish it to handle a host of contemporary challenges that enables India to play a proactive role in the international arena and realise its aspiration for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.