Prime Minister Manmohan Singh received a standing ovation following a 30-minute extempore speech to top Foreign Office officials here on Tuesday during which he outlined the country’s strategic objectives and the path to achieve them.
Speaking to over 100 Indian heads of missions abroad, Dr. Singh pointed out that the foreign policy should be used to maintain the high growth path in a liberal world order to accomplish the three objectives of the Indian state -- remove poverty, ignorance and disease.
Despite the global financial meltdown, Dr. Singh assured the audience that India had not been hit hard and still remained the second highest growing economy in the world. He was confident of the economy returning to near-double digit growth again that would enable the government meet the goal of ensuring distributive justice.
However, he cautioned against complacency and wanted an all-out effort to ensure the country got back to the high-growth path. The External Affairs Ministry officials had an important role to play by identifying not only new growth areas but also sources for importing natural resources that were scarce in the country.
While the Foreign Office put out just three paragraphs of the speech on grounds that some portions were sensitive, sources attending the five-day conference said the Prime Minister also touched on contentious issues such as technology transfer and foreign investments and scarcity of natural resources. He explained that the new initiatives taken by the government since 2004 in this respect were solely in the country’s national interest and not to suit the designs of any other country or interest grouping.
Of great interest to the diplomats was Dr. Singh’s formulation on dealing with the neighbours in which he advocated dialogue and taking the focus off from one or two countries in dealing with terrorism. He also spoke about the positive aspects and the problem areas in India’s ties with bigger countries such as China, Russia and the U.S. Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao moderated the brief question and answer session that followed. External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna was also present.
According to the news release, the Prime Minister said sustaining capital inflows to supplement investment and taking advantage of rapid scientific and technological developments elsewhere in the world required active engagement by India on all multilateral fora and in the shaping of the world order, whether in the field of trade, international finance or the international economy. Insularity was not an option and India should play a role in the international arena in a manner that would make a positive contribution to finding solutions to major global challenges such as trade and climate change.