India should not be anxious to join the ‘global high table’: Ansari

April 13th, 2009 - 5:31 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) India should not be “overtly anxious” to join the global high table, but work its way up there with “patience and diligence,” Vice President Hamid Ansari said here Monday.
Alluding to a US report about the rise of India and China and their potential to achieve parity with the US by 2025, Ansari underlined the need for a flexible foreign policy.

“We therefore have to be patient and diligent, work our way up, and not be overtly anxious to get there prematurely,” he said.

“In a changing world, foreign policy tactics have to remain flexible,” Ansari said after releasing former diplomat Rajiv Sikri’s book “Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy” in the presence of scores of diplomats, businessmen and journalists at Federation House here.

According to the National Intelligence Council of the US, in the next ten years China and India are expected to achieve near parity with the US in two different areas: India in scientific and human capital and China in government receptivity to business innovations.

Ansari also drew attention to “domestic factors and constraints” that may come in the way of rise of India on the global stage. “The pace of our progress would also depend on the speed at which we overcome domestic strives that retard our progress,” he said.

“These questions cannot be wished away; to do so successfully, we have to keep in mind and implement the basic principles of the Indian polity,” he added.

Commending Sikri’s book for its insights into economic diplomacy and energy security, Ansari underlined the need for India to have a broader strategic relationship with the Gulf countries.

Contending that India has tended to look at the Gulf region primarily through the prism of energy security and the 4.5 million diaspora that stays in these countries, Ansari said: “The wider strategic aspects of relationship with a region in proximate neighbourhood appear to have been put aside.”

Alluding to a proposal for a Gulf security framework and India’s likely role in it, the vice president said: “An essential prerequisite for such an engagement would be more vibrant political relations with all the states of the Persian Gulf littoral.”

Sikri, a former secretary in the external affairs ministry, took voluntary retirement from the Indian Foreign Service nearly three years ago. He has been known for his outspoken and critical views on the India-US civil nuclear deal - an issue he examines in detail in his book.

Sikri admitted that the idea of writing a book came to him at the height of the impassioned debate in the country over the nuclear deal which provoked him to re-examine the orientation of the country’s foreign policy and its place in the world. “We are in a time of flux. We must do some rethinking,” he said.

“The book focuses on strategic relationships and issues. The emphasis is on trends, rather than events, regions rather than individual countries and underlying long-term factors rather than details,” Sikri said.

Chinmaya Gharekhan, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for West Asia, also lauded the book as an “immensely valuable contribution” to understanding India’s foreign policy.

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