The outreach to the Gulf has become an important pillar of India’s foreign policy, the Narendra Modi government’s Foreign Secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, said today.
Speaking to an audience at Delhi’s most prestigious educational institution, the St. Stephen’s College, Shringla described the policy as “Think West,” implying that countries lying to India’s West now play an important part in the government’s strategic thinking.
Referring to the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world, he said, “All crises alter geopolitics. Some things will, however, not change. The fundamental spatial orientation of our policy remains ‘Neighbourhood First’.” The Modi government considers the Gulf as India’s extended neighbourhood.
“Think West – our outreach to the Gulf and West Asian countries – has become an increasingly important pillar of our foreign policy. Our engagement with Africa, both in political and economic terms, has also intensified as never before.” India’s ongoing engagement of Africa includes several Arab-African nations.
Shringla specifically referred to overseas Indians, the bulk of whom live in the GCC area. “We are focused on serving our diaspora and the creation of a global system of delivering public services.”
He said India’s medical strength and its pharmaceutical capacity have been used to help other countries during the COVID-19 spread across the globe. “We tried to act as a ‘pharmacy of the world’ during the current crisis and provided medications and essential medical supplies to more than 150 countries internationally,” including the UAE.
He also referred to the deployment of rapid response medical teams to Kuwait and other countries in India’s extended neighbourhood at their request.
The occasion for his speech was the introduction of a new certificate programme on International Relations at the St. Stephen’s College, Shringla’s own alma mater.
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