New Delhi: Observing that India is in transition in a changing world, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the country was engaging with the world with an objective of creating environment for its development and ensuring security.
He said foreign policy and diplomacy would be key factors in India`s progress and security with the "centre of gravity of global challenges and opportunities" shifting to this region and growing engagement of the country with the world.
"India is in transition in a changing world. The external and internal environment that our nation faces has changed beyond recognition since the Indian Foreign Service was set up.
"Yet, our engagement with the world continues to be driven by the enduring objectives of creating an enabling environment for our national development goals, ensuring the security of the nation and fulfilling our international responsibilities," Singh said while outlining the objectives of Indian diplomacy.
He was speaking here after giving away the 2nd S K Singh Award for outstanding foreign service to senior IFS officer Tanmaya Lal. The jury for the award, instituted in the name of the late Foreign Secretary and eminent diplomat, is headed by Vice President Hamid Ansari and includes Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.
Recommending S K Singh as a role model for future generations of foreign service officers, the Prime Minister said, "The mettle of civil servants is often tested in difficult circumstances and challenging environments."
He said Indian diplomats must lead efforts for fostering a climate for peace, stability and security for the country and in safeguarding the national interests in international negotiations of far-reaching consequence.
The Prime Minister noted that South Asia, West Asia,
Central Asia, Southeast and East Asia as well as Africa are becoming increasingly important for India`s future security and prosperity even though these "may not be the easiest places to work in".
Addressing the brief function attended by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Rahul Gandhi, National Security Adviser Shivshanker Menon and top IFS officers, Singh said, "As Indian expatriates, investment and trade grow globally in numbers and significance, promoting and protecting their interests and welfare have become an integral part of our diplomacy."
He made the comment in the context of Lal`s extraordinary assistance to 15,000 Indians in Thailand in 2008 during unrest there because of which the airport had to be closed for days.
Lal, who was deputy chief of mission in Bangkok at that time, also was instrumental in assisting evacuation of Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Commerce Secretary from Pattaya in the midst of similar unrest in April 2009.
The Prime Minister said the diplomats have to play a crucial role in the country`s economic development, advancing energy and food security and helping the country to catch the next wave of science, technology, innovation and education.
"As global inter-dependence and integration deepen, as the centre of gravity of global challenges and opportunities shifts to our region, and as India engages more with the world, foreign policy and diplomacy will remain key factors in our progress, prosperity and security," he said.
He said the government remains committed to empower and equip the foreign service, not just in terms of numbers, but also in terms of infrastructure, systems and capabilities "so that they continue to help India address the opportunities and challenges of this century".
The Prime Minister recalled his friendship with S K Singh when he was in Cambridge in 1950 and the late diplomat was a probationer in London.