India need to decide on global role: Tharoor
New Delhi, July 24 (ANI): Former Central Minister Dr Shashi Tharoor today stressed the need for India to decide on the role it should play in the global multilateral environment.
Taking part in a discussion on his latest book on India's foreign policy, "Pax Indica" at Observer Research Foundation, Dr. Tharoor said "that India may not have made up its mind fully on its role in multilateral environment is arguably true. These are questions need to be sorted out within the government and within the ministry."
Dr. Tharoor, a former Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, said "we have been fighting for a permanent seat in the UN Security council, but we have not yet demonstrated fully how we would use that seat differently from the way we use the non-permanent seat."
He also underlined the need for suiting the foreign policy to meet the changing challenges of India - be it of attracting and ensuring foreign investment, maintaining good relations with trading partners, ensuring strategic security, food security, energy security, etc.
Saying domestic transformation should be one of the important aspects of the country's foreign policy, Dr. Tharoor said he is for improving trade and economic relations with both Pakistan and China which he believes would help in creating vested interest in these countries for having better relations with India in return.
"India should not be hamstrung by permanent hostility. Improved trade relations are in India's interest. We gain more than we stand to lose," he said.
He argued that China would not dare to attack India if it knew it would lead to huge loss of trade and strong investments in India.
Dr. Tharoor pointed out that India also need to vastly improve its diplomatic strength, saying at present it is only at par with that of countries like Singapore and New Zealand. He said while India's strength is nearly 800 foreign service officers, China has 4200 diplomats, US 12,000 and western countries from 6000 to 8000 each.
He also pointed out the need for a separate examination to select probable Foreign Service officers because the present common examination is not at all suited to pick up bright and interested candidates for Foreign Service which needs a different kind of skills.
Mr. Kanwal Sibal, former Foreign Secretary, pointed out "the serious turf war" going on between the IFS and IAS lobby. He said while the MEA accommodated the IAS in various technical areas, it is "impossible to break through the IAS barrier" to help expertise for the IFS officers in these areas.
He also argued that peace and domestic transformation (development) are not linked each other as pointed out by Dr. Tharoor. In his defence, he pointed out the development of China and India's own growth despite insurgency in the 90s.
Dr. C. Raja Mohan, Distinguished Fellow, ORF, stressed the need to demystify the foreign policy of India which is very different now. He said India need to take a stand in the balance of power game by the US and China.
Describing Dr Tharoor as the "average man's Kissinger" Mr. Vikram Sood, former Secretary of RA and W and Distinguished Fellow, ORF, said "being nice to Pakistan has not helped our cause at all". He said India needed to "look a Pakistan differently". He also said that he was not sure whether India and China can cooperate as being said, since both countries would be competing for almost the same space - whether it is energy, market or other resources.
Mr. Sunjoy Joshi, Director, ORF moderated the discussion which was attended by strategic experts, members of embassies, scholars and former diplomats. (ANI)
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