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Opening Remarks by Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri V. Muraleedharan at Raisina Dialogue 2022 on “India@75: New Approaches for Foreign Policy”

April 26, 2022

Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen
Friends
Namaskaram!


I am delighted to join this august gathering at the seventh edition of the Raisina Dialogue. The Covid pandemic prevented us from meeting in the physical format last year. I am happy to see you all in person, this year.

Raisina Dialogue is India’s flagship conference on geopolitics and geoeconomics. The profile of this Dialogue has grown over the years, only to emerge as a key global conference on international affairs. Today, it attracts leading minds from the strategic and policy-making community. I personally look forward to the deliberations of this year’s dialogue.

Friends,

As India celebrates "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” – which is 75 years of its independence – its foreign policy assumes greater significance. It is perhaps a cliché to say that foreign policy begins at home – but that continues to remain a core tenet of India’s foreign policy. The domestic political, economic and social decisions are increasingly finding their complementary cause or effect at foreign policy level. This is because foreign policy cannot be detached from the domestic landscape and ground realities; they are part of a people-policy continuum.

Gone are the days when the foreign policy was decided in boardrooms. Now, citizens in remote corners are interested in diplomatic developments. In India’s villages, mohallahs, and streets, issues of foreign policy are being debated. We have been able to offer the global to the local. People’s choices, views and aspirations are being heard today. In other words, foreign policymaking is driven by the bottom-up approach.

Local communities are making interventions, and policymakers are reshaping their traditional approach to foreign policy. From climate change to economics, from health to technology, domestic pulls and demands are driving policy responses in ways that were unimaginable a few years back.

The principles of accommodation, inclusion, and representation become key to any states’ decision-making. In this ‘people-centric’ process, we find newer trajectories that allow India to respond better to novel ideas and institutions.

For democracies such as India, this rootedness only strengthens our character and makes the external engagements more viable and sustainable.

Friends,

The world is passing through one of the biggest health and economic crises of the modern times. We have been facing unprecedented challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic. India, today, is at the forefront of the global fight against the pandemic, including through our successful indigenous vaccine programmes that benefited the entire world.

As the result of the pandemic and other geo-political developments, most nation-states are increasingly turning inwards, responding to the demands of their domestic populace. In contrast, India’s guiding principle of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam has only strengthened its innate globalism.

Even at the height of the Covid crisis, India never shied away from its regional and global responsibilities. Our Atmanirbhar Bharat vision is geared towards strengthening domestic resilience and reducing external dependence in critical sectors. It is very much in tune with the changing global order, and makes us no less responsible as a stakeholder, in catering to global commons. Atmanirbharta is not just an economic policy. It is a clear vision of our leadership, which looks after our people, and that of the wider world, with care and responsibility.

If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the disruptions do not recognise geographical boundaries. Vulnerabilities could be felt tens of thousands of miles away from the epicentre. It is in recognising this interconnectedness and identifying the need to strengthen supply chains that our self-reliance mantra is sounded out.

Friends,

The 30 million strong Indian diaspora play a significant role in our foreign policy. With the tall leadership in Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, his visits abroad, engagements with world leaders and interactions with Indian diaspora are not just news to the common citizen back home.

It is an emotional connect that she/he makes to his fellow brethren abroad, who are also interested in shaping a new India. It is this strong connect that common citizens feel proud of; it reinstates the belief of an aspirational India that the country and countrymen have grown in stature in the world arena.

During the initial days of the Ukraine crisis, our Prime Minister sent 4 Ministers to Ukraine’s bordering countries – to oversee the evacuation of Indians – under Operation Ganga. That reiterated our commitment to our citizens, to ensure the safety and security of Indians in any corner of the world. It underlined a whole-of-government approach.

Operations Ganga and Vande Bharat are testimonies for Indians in distress abroad, who know they can count on their Government.

The success of the Indian community overseas has dramatically changed the world’s perception of Indians and of India. Our priority is to build everlasting links with the Indian diaspora across the globe, and create appropriate channels and mechanisms for these talented and resourceful minds to effectively contribute in shaping a New India.

Today, the importance of the Indian diaspora, their interests, safety and social capital in different parts of the world, are all being increasingly factored-in, while framing foreign policy at home.

Friends,

The line between domestic and foreign policy is increasingly getting blurred. As India moves towards assuming greater regional and global responsibilities, its vision will continue to be shaped mainly by its developmental priorities at home.

At 75, India is entering a dynamic phase in its foreign-policymaking, striving to keep its political, socio-economic, and technological dimensions tightly fastened to domestic values and aspirations.

This new India is willing – now more than ever – to engage with the wider international community with a self-confidence rooted in its unique civilizational ethos. That we are hosting this dialogue with you all present here only proves my point. Taking everyone along this journey, India remains committed to shaping a global order that is equitable, inclusive and just.

In fact, many of the discussions that you will be part of today, and over the course of this dialogue, will help you understand India’s point-of-view, whilst also giving us the opportunity to understand what you think of India, and its place in the world.

Some defining themes today will include – connectivity, green energy transitions, regionalism & multilateralism, soft power, talking in-depth about the language of power, the role of tech in our lives and also in security & conflict, and notably the importance of constructs such as the Indo-Pacific.

I look forward to the deliberations.

Before I conclude, I congratulate– the Observer Research Foundation – for their good efforts and for bringing us all together on this bright Delhi morning!

My best wishes to you all.

Thank you!

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