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Fourth Conference of Indian Heads of Missions

The fourth Conference of Indian Heads of Mission commenced today (14.9.2012) at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. The salient features of the remarks made by the Prime Minister, External Affairs Minister and Foreign Secretary are provided below.

Remarks by the Prime Minister

PM in his address to the 4th Conference of Indian Heads of Mission emphasised that in the complex strategic environment that India confronts it is essential that senior foreign policy managers regularly take stock of policies and evaluate their effectiveness on the ground.

Our economy, our polity and our society are resilient enough to overcome the present adversities. India’s future growth and development depends substantially on a favourable external environment. There are also challenges thrown up by globalization, which has led to entirely new paradigms and discourses on issues ranging from the environment and sustainable development to international terrorism, piracy and crime.

We have worked towards establishing friendly and cooperative ties with our neighbours. We have also emphasized the idea of establishing greater connectivity in South Asia to promote the movement of goods, services, investment and technology so that India’s growth provides the engine of progress for our neighbours. HOMs in the region need to consider innovations that make the most effective and efficient use of our limited developmental resources.

Over the last two decades, our political and economic engagement with the major powers has increased manifold. While our interaction with major emerging economies like Brazil and South Africa in formats like the IBSA, and along with Russia and China in the BRICS, have grown in importance.

Africa is on the path of resurgence and it is our stated intention to become a close partner in this process through the India-Africa Forum Summit. I am glad that the Ministry of External Affairs has now established the Development Partnership Administration, which seeks to accelerate the implementation of our development assistance.

For foreign policy to effectively serve domestic growth needs, it is imperative that efforts be equally geared toward finding economic opportunities in trade and financial flows and assisting the search for privileged access to critical or rare natural resources – these could be sources of energy or other minerals vital for modern industries.

The imperatives of our foreign policy have not changed. Security against external threats, economic prosperity and sharing in global public goods remain the central impulses. A dynamic environment, however, demands constant fine-tuning of the instruments of policy. We must also not remain content with making the best of a difficult external environment, but instead attempt to actively shape a favourable external environment for India.

Remarks by External Affairs Minister

The External Affairs Minister while inaugurating the 4th HOMs Conference on 14.9.2012 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, described the gathering as consisting of “representatives of India’s finest civil servants and best diplomatic minds”. He acknowledged that many of the Indian envoys are called upon to respond to unusual crises in unusual circumstances and this requires innovative and affirmative interventions. Emphasising on the priorities of the government on the foreign policy front, the External Affairs Minister said that an important objective continues to be creation of an external enabling environment for country’s transformation through inclusive growth.

Our immediate neighbourhood is of paramount importance for our national interests and outlined the initiatives taken during the course of last year to enhance our interaction with neighbours. We remain committed to building a stable and prosperous South Asia. Our engagement in the SAARC process has gained momentum. The asymmetrical and result oriented approach adopted by us has pushed forward the SAARC process.

We are reasonably satisfied at the progress achieved in the last round of the resumed dialogue, given the complexities of the issues that we face, in our relations with Pakistan. We are also cognizant of the fact that there is a long way and the path ahead will not be easy. India-China relations, will be one of the most important bilateral relationships in the 21st century. The forthcoming commemorative 20th anniversary summit of our dialogue with ASEAN is a landmark event which would signify our extensive engagement with the region.

In the area of multilateral diplomacy, India’s global profile has been steadily growing. Its credentials for becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council are gaining momentum. Engagement with like-minded countries in the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) process on issues of mutual interest in the international arena provided opportunities to deal with issues of global governance.

India’s developmental cooperation has emerged as an important component of our foreign policy with a number of countries. The establishment of Development Partnership Administration (DPA) was a significant institutional development aimed at bringing all development assistance programmes under one umbrella.

The well being of overseas Indians is one of the core responsibilities and concerns of Indian Missions. Embassies and Consulates should be proactive in terms of mitigating problems faced by Indians abroad. Heads of Missions have a special responsibility to play a leadership role in taking up and resolving issues faced by Indian citizens abroad.

The operationalization of 77 Passport Sewa Kendras through out the country in a period of two years is part of efforts to provide timely delivery of passport services to fellow citizens.

We are blessed with a heritage which is unmatched and unparalleled. It is not just the cultural aspect of India that is unique and special, it is our vibrant democracy, talented English speaking workforce our enterprises, our governance, our leadership role in international forums- that are special and needs to be portrayed in an appropriate way. Public diplomacy both in India and abroad needs to find its rightful place.

The emerging multipolar world and multiplicity of issues on the agenda of international relations require all to ensure that Missions are effective outposts of India abroad. Emphasis needs to be put on 4 Cs- ‘Commerce, Connectivity, Consular and Community’.

Remarks by the Foreign Secretary

Foreign Secretary Shri Ranjan Mathai briefed the 117 High Commissioners and Ambassadors from across the world, who had gathered at Vigyan Bhawan for the 4th Conference of Indian Heads of Mission (HOMs).

He welcomed the HOMs as representatives of India which is at its mid passage in its transformation. The country’s economy is resilient enough to weather the worst global economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression, and continues to register one of the highest economic growth rates in the world. The world’s largest democracy is still a role model of the enduring strength of democracy.

The continued integration into the global economy and the expansion of institutional linkages in political, social, academic and cultural spheres worldwide require greater sophistication in the way diplomats articulated their message. There was a demand for much vaster specializations of the foreign service in view of the accentuated public expectations of the conduct and implementation of India’s foreign policy. The need to present holistic answers to issues relating to political dialogue, security, financial flows, trade, economic relations, cyber matters and priorities, information, culture, science, etc has been accentuated.

In the attainment of Indian foreign policy objectives, a high priority has always been given to the development of close ties with the countries of our neighbourhood based on the fundamental principles of equality and mutual respect and mutual sensitivity to each other’s concerns. India’s engagements with major powers have also visibly and substantively increased in a more nuanced way than previously.

Other Interactions

The Home Minister Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde shared his thoughts on India’s security environment and challenges with the participants. He also interacted and responded to questions relating to visa issues.

In addition, National Security Adviser, Dy National Security Adviser, Finance Secretary, Secretary Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs also addressed the HOMs and responded to a number of questions on a variety of issues.

New Delhi
September 14, 2012


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