Bhubaneswar: Favouring creation of an institutional structure for Centre-State interaction on foreign policy issues, noted diplomat Vivek Katju on Tuesday said there has to be greater involvement of the states in foreign economic and commercial matters.
"Perhaps the time has come to create an institutional structure for centre-state interaction on foreign policy issues," said Katju, former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, while delivering the 14th Foundation Day Lecture of Navaratna PSU NALCO here.
A trial can be made through structured periodic meetings of the Ministry of External Affairs Secretaries led by the Foreign Secretary and the Chief Secretaries of the states, he said.
Recalling the Nani Palkhivala Memorial Lecture of Narendra Modi delivered in October 2013 in Chennai, Katju said the basis thrust of Modi's ideas is the greater involvement of the states in foreign policy making.
While it is the centre that can holistically and comprehensively reconcile competing interests and formulate a position, there has to be greater involvement of the states in foreign economic and commercial issues, he said.
"I feel that the national institutions of foreign policy making need to be periodically reviewed. Only then can it be ensured that they meet the needs of the times," Katju said adding Central authorities in federal and quasi-federal countries have to take into account among other pressures those coming from the constituent states.
On India's foreign policy goal of having a conducive and peaceful external environment, Katju said there are many and grave challenges to our aim.
The entire region to the west of India stretching from Pakistan to Afghanistan and through Iran to the Arab world is in turmoil and is a challenge to India's interests, he said.
Stating that prime minister Narendra Modi has crafted a coherent policy towards Pakistan, Katju said it can only be hoped that the policy would continue even if pressure comes to modify it whether from within the country of outside.
"Those who are advocating that dialogue should be resumed should ask themselves if the earlier dialogue has brought about stable relations or if dialogue is an end in itself," he said and wondered if India can change the Pakistani mindset from conflict to cooperation.
India has no role except to signal that its doors are open to cooperation, he said adding finally there is a coincidence of interests between Pakistan and China to keep India in check and for this purpose over decades Pakistan has been "China's cat's paw in South Asia."