A good foreign policy must also make a difference at home:
Edited version of lecture delivered by India’s External Affairs Minister at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi on March 24.
Foreign policy being the link to the outside, it should enable us to draw what we seek.
This could be in terms of technology or capital, best practices, or even work opportunities.
Recent instances in which India’s foreign policy directly influence the common man:
- Through Operation Ganga, Indian students stuck in Ukraine were brought home.
- When the first wave of Covid hit India in 2020, we scrambled across the world to secure PPEs, masks and ventilators.
- The second wave in 2021 saw a similar spike in demand for oxygen and specialised medicines from abroad.
- Locating, negotiating and contracting supplies became the priority for Indian diplomacy.
Influence of foreign policy at the collective level:
- When it comes to security, external or internal, diplomacy could be a preventive, a mitigator or a problem-solver.
- It can help raise awareness of a shared threat, just as it can find partners against common dangers.
- In Asia, all modernising economies have single-mindedly focused their external interactions on obtaining capital, technology and best practices from abroad.
- Newer challenges like green growth and climate action have started to open up still more possibilities.
Building blocks of India’s foreign policy:
- The six broad objectives that were spelt out to the policy-makers and implementers were clear.
- 1] Shaping global perception: We must bring about a change of thinking in the world about us.
- 2] Partnership on equal terms: The partnerships we should create should be on more equal terms, and with smaller countries, more generous.
- 3] Shaping the global agenda: The global agenda and the big issues of our times should be shaped by India as much as possible.
- 4] Leveraging foreign policy for domestic progress: Foreign relationships should be actively explored and leveraged for domestic development and progress.
- 5] People-centric foreign policy: The very conceptualisation of foreign policy should be more people-centric.
- 6] Our culture, traditions and thoughts should percolate our own articulation as well as influence international debates and initiatives.
- Yoga and Ayurveda were obvious examples in this regard.
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