| Singh: Value sermon
New Delhi, Feb. 14: Facing a barrage of criticism from angry Left partners on the foreign policy front, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today tried to drive home the point that the country’s tactics and strategy in the international arena may change with time without compromising on basic values.
As the United Progressive Alliance prepares for a heated debate in Parliament, beginning later this week on the Iran issue, Singh chose the occasion of the foundation ceremony for an external affairs ministry building to spell out his foreign policy vision.
“While the instruments of our policy and the tactics and strategy we adopt may change with time, the values in which they are embedded are universal and will remain true all the time,” he said.
As if pointing to his critics, Singh fell back on Jawaharlal Nehru’s principles of non-alignment, which he said was an expression of “our enlightened national interest”. It is just incidental that like Singh, the first Prime Minister had also kept the external affairs portfolio with himself. The Prime Minister said non-alignment was neither an empty slogan nor a pretext to shirk the responsibility to define our own world view based on national interest.
The Left partners have insisted that India should stick to the principles of the non-aligned movement on key international issues like voting on Iran at the IAEA.
Singh also talked some realpolitik. He said India has a turbulent neighbourhood and Delhi’s main challenge was to create a stable and co-operative atmosphere. Referring to the West Asia situation, he said turbulence in the Islamic world merits deeper analysis.
The Prime Minister advocated economic diplomacy and said it was time for introspection and adaptation in the fast-evolving international arena. “The business of diplomacy increasingly requires engagement with the diplomacy of business,” he said.
Reiterating India’s growing hunger for energy, Singh said: “Given India’s rising demand for energy, the uncertainty in the supply of hydro-carbons and concerns about global warming, issues relating to energy security, have important implications for the conduct of our foreign policy.”
He cited China’s emergence as a major global power as another issue that needed to be studied. “There is much that we can learn from China’s impressive economic development,” Singh said.