New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to defend India’s foreign policy under the BJP government since May 2014, saying it was important for him to interact with world leaders as they did not know who the new Indian Prime Minister was.
“Earlier, the foreign policy was possible between governments; but today, it is not possible just between governments. Government relations are important but increasing people-to-people contacts are equally important,” Modi said in an interview to TimesNow news channel.
Modi said: “The world did not know me; and the world wanted to know who the new (Indian) Prime Minister is. If someone tries to know Modi through the eyes of the media, they will be confused. If that happened, it will be a loss.”
“So, if I had not met world leaders and talked to them, they would not have known the Prime Minister of India. I was not a member of a political family. I was new; so being proactive was important for me,” the Prime Minister said.
Modi said that the fact that he had no background in this field gave him a “clean slate” and so he could establish good relations with various leaders at an individual level.
“There has been a paradigm shift. Because I do not have any previous baggage, because I had a clean slate, I write everything from beginning and that has a benefit. Today, we are building relations with countries across the world. The amount of respect with which I engage Saudi Arabia, I engage Iran with the same amount of respect. The amount of respect with which I speak to America, I speak to Russia with the same amount of respect,” he said.
“We also need to understand that the world was bipolar earlier on. The foreign policy would be centered around two super powers. India was a little late in realising that this bipolar situation was in name only. Now, the entire world, in changed circumstances, especially in the 21st century, is more inter-dependent and inter-connected,” Modi said.
He stressed that the cohesiveness between Indian ministries and the public mandate to his government in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections also helped shape the Indian foreign policy.
“The biggest factor that has affected our foreign policy is that for 30 years, we had unstable governments. There was no government with a clear mandate. The world measures a government by the situation it is in in its own country,” the Prime Minister said.
“I am thankful to the people of this country that they elected this government with a clear majority and this had had an impact on world politics. The leaders and countries of the world have a different perspective of India (now),” he said.
“The third thing is that we are a team. Ministry of External Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office, commerce, finance, defence (ministries)… we are all a team. This interest (of the world in India) is not only because of Modi but because of the team. Earlier, they were scattered,” he said.