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Remarks by External Affairs Minister at the 4th Raisina Dialogue

January 09, 2019

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to once again welcome you all to the Raisina Dialogue. The inaugural session last evening, with the participation of Prime Minister Modi and PM Solberg of Norway has set the stage for what I am sure will be yet another successful and productive Dialogue.


Around four years ago, I recall discussing with my team at the Ministry of External Affairs, the need for India to host an international platform that enables an exchange of perspectives on emerging global and regional trends.

I am happy that we found in ORF a capable and dynamic organisational partner. My felicitations to Sanjay Joshi ji and his team for taking the Raisina Dialogue to new heights each year. The level and diversity of participation, and range of issues covered in each edition of the Dialogue justify its position as India’s flagship dialogue on geo-strategic matters.


I have always felt that discussions and debates on foreign policy should not remain confined to the select few – whether it is politicians, bureaucrats, or elite academia. In today’s interconnected and interdependent world, foreign policy has a direct and visible impact on the daily lives and well-being of all sections of people at home.

This is why these conversations need to be taken to our villages and small towns, to school classrooms, and to vernacular media outlets – this is the only way to evolve a well informed and democratic approach to foreign policy that takes into account the voices of all stakeholders.

This is the thinking behind my Ministry’s innovative new initiatives like SAMEEP, which connects serving diplomats with their alma mater institutions, and our support to think tanks and research institutions to nurture research, scholarship and debate on foreign policy in different corners of the country.

Indeed, I am happy that thanks to some innovative digital partnerships, the proceedings of the Raisina dialogue also will not be confined to this venue, but will be shared with thousands of viewers outside.

Ladies and gentlemen,

When we met for this Dialogue last year, we discussed "Disruptive Transitions”, including political, strategic and economic re-balancing of the world.

These disruptions and ensuing complexities are ongoing phenomena. In fact, if we step back and look at the broader picture of history, a world in flux is not an entirely new situation.

The critical question is how do we respond to these transitions? A World Reorder, this year’s theme, is therefore appropriate. Our focus is on finding solutions to the plethora of challenges before us, through innovative approaches and dynamic partnerships.

India’s own engagement with the world is rooted in its civilizational ethos, which has at its heart co-existence, pluralism, openness, dialogue, and democratic values.

Today, India, with one-sixth of humanity, is experiencing economic and social transformation on a scale which has rarely been seen in the history of the world. While the prosperity of Indians, both at home and abroad, and security of our citizens are of paramount importance, self interest alone, does not propel us.

Through the centuries, guided by Lord Buddha’s wisdom and the Mahatma Gandhi’s message of peace and compassion, India’s strength and success has been a force for global peace, stability and prosperity, and anchor for all-round regional and global progress. India therefore stands for a democratic and rules-based international order, in which all nations thrive as equals.


When I addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the first time in my present capacity in 2015, I spoke of the need for a transformative change, which can reinvigorate the nation and enable it to play its rightful role in international affairs, while also becoming the fastest growing major economy in the world.

In the past four and a half years, this comprehensive and energetic renewal of India’s global engagement has been founded on the motto of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas – an emphasis on the welfare of all.

There are five key elements of this approach, which I would like to mention here, without going into too much details.

First, we have rebuilt India’s bridges, both literally and figuratively speaking, with its immediate and extended neighbourhood. We have devoted a much higher level of resources and attention to our neighbourhood, not only when it comes to formal diplomatic engagements but also in pushing next generation regional connectivity and critical infrastructure, and also at times of distress and need.

In particular, Prime Minister’s strategic vision of SAGAR has spurred a qualitative transformation in India’s engagement with the Indian Ocean Region in recent years. Our revitalised Act East and Think West paradigms have further broadened the reach of our strategic and economic ‘neighbourhood’.

At the same time, our commitment to upholding territorial integrity and sovereignty remains unwavering. Our consistent message is that unresolved border issues can be resolved bilaterally, when approached in the right spirit and, in an atmosphere free from violence and hostility.

Second, we are shaping our relationships in a manner that synchronises with India’s economic priorities. With this "diplomacy for development” approach, each global interaction is now focussed on building partnerships to promote our transformative flagship programmes such as Make in India, Smart Cities, Digital India, AMRUT and Namami Gange.

Third, we are focussed on making India a human resource power to be reckoned with, by connecting our talented youth to global opportunities. This is being achieved through Skill India partnerships with several countries, as well as under the aegis of the GIAN programme and various private sector partnerships under Digital India. We have also made an unprecedented outreach to our Diaspora across the world, to tap into their skills, resources, and ideas.

All this is being done with the confidence that a prosperous, better connected and skilled young India will be the engine for growth and prosperity not only in South Asia but far beyond.

Fourth, We are building sustainable development partnerships stretching from the Indian Ocean and Pacific Islands to the Caribbean, and from the continent of Africa to the Americas. These initiatives have expanded; both in geographical reach and sectoral coverage, and now include Lines of Credit and grants, technical consultancy, educational scholarships and a range of capacity-building programmes. Note that, we refer to these as partnerships, and not assistance.

Our partnerships are consultative, non-reciprocal, and outcome oriented. We are of the firm belief that to be truly sustainable, such regional initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, openness, financial viability, and transparency.

Finally, we are leading the way in re-configuring and re-invigorating global institutions and organizations. Whether it is by founding the International Solar Alliance, which will benefit our energy security and also combat climate change; or our active role in humanitarian and disaster relief operations in our neighbourhood; or our membership of key institutions of global governance – India is a proactive and constructive contributor to promoting and upholding global peace and security.


With its unwavering belief in multilateralism, India speaks not just for itself, but also for the cause of justice, opportunity and prosperity around the world. For us, transformation is not just a domestic agenda, it is a global vision.

Before I conclude, I would like to briefly touch upon some of the critical challenges that confront us today.

The first, as I have said on several earlier occasions, is terrorism. Friends, there was a time when India would talk about terrorism, and it would be treated as a law and order issue on many global platforms. Today, no country, big or small, is immune from this existential threat, particularly, terrorism actively supported and sponsored by states. In this digital age, the challenge is even greater, with a greater vulnerability to radicalization.

As far back as 1996, India proposed a draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism we call it CCIT at the UN, it remains a draft to this day, because we cannot agree on a common definition. Ensuring zero-tolerance towards terrorism, and those who use it as an instrument of convenience, is the need of the hour.

Another challenge is the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This is one challenge that this Dialogue will be discussing.

Developing and under-developed nations are the worst victims of climate change, with neither the capacity nor the resources to meet the crisis. We have risen to meet the challenge. India, in partnership with France launched the International Solar Alliance earlier this year with the participation of 120 countries.

I see that in the course of the deliberations here, you will discuss these and many other challenges and opportunities facing the world.

I wish you all success in the process, and urge you at all times to keep in mind the guiding ideals of the world as one family, with finds its most succinct expression in this Sanskrit verse:

सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु मा कश्चिद्दुः
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः

[May all be happy;
May all be healthy;
May all see what is good;
May all be free from suffering.
O God give us peace, peace and peace]

Thank you

New Delhi
January 09, 2019


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