New Delhi: India does not need to adopt a hawkish foreign policy stance but just has to be firm and responsible in its dealing with its neighbours, Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju, said on Monday.
At a function to mark the foundation day of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), he also said that although there were apprehensions about such organisations in the country, the NIA has proved that these were ill-founded.
"Idea of India is as a symbol of peace. There is no need to adopt hawkish (foreign) policy. We are naturally a soft power. But soft does not mean weak. We have to be firm, responsible and strong in our resolve," he said.
Rijiju's comments come at a time when his senior in the Home Ministry, Rajnath Singh, has made it clear that India would give a "fitting" reply to Pakistan on any instance of firing by its troops on Indian posts and civilian areas.
The Minister of State for Home said that India's basic behaviour is soft and it must not adopt a hawkish agenda towards its neighbours.
"We must not agree to a posture of war but have to be firm and responsible, besides being a stable power," he said.
Meanwhile, lauding the NIA, he said, "There have been apprehensions among the states about organisations like NIA and NCTC. But the NIA has proved that the apprehensions were ill-founded."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he was earlier the Chief Minister of Gujarat, had strongly opposed the previous UPA government's move to create the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), saying it would "infringe" on the powers of the states. Given the opposition from several states, NCTC is yet to come into existence.
Earlier, delivering the second R V Raju memorial lecture on 'Pakistan and Neighbourhood: A Hawkish Agenda', senior journalist Shekhar Gupta highlighted various aspects of India's influence, including its democracy, on the neighbouring countries.
R V Raju, a former IPS officer was the first DG of NIA.
"We can have good influence on our neighbours, we can have bad influence on our neighbours. Neighbours always look upon us," Gupta said.
Peaceful change of government in India through the working of the democratic process is a clean idea for its neighbours to follow, Gupta said.
"Every time government change (happens) in India peacefully, it tells all its neighbours that this is what a country should do," he said.
Gupta averred that India has been pursuing a particular foreign policy for Pakistan and another policy for the remaining of its neighbours. New Delhi's approach towards Islamabad has to changed as it would contribute towards ending all insecurity in bilateral ties, he said.
The noted journalist said India's foreign policy should not be guided by just "hawkish" or "dovish" framework, but by its strength of democracy and intellectual capital in conjunction with the astute use of military power.
Gupta also spoke at length on India's influence over its neighbouring countries, including Pakistan. He advocated a mix of "soft" and "hard" approach to attain foreign policy objectives.
On Pakistan, he said the world should take it upon itself to engage with the country and bring about a change in the society there.