Downplaying Prime Minister Narendra Modi skipping the NAM Summit, Vice President Hamid Ansari has said there is no shift in India’s foreign policy and asserted that it is participation that matters as it is “not a conference of Prime Ministers”.
Ansari is leading the Indian delegation for the Non- Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Venezuela’s Margarita island in the absence of Prime Minister Modi, who is only the second Indian Premier to not go for the conference after Charan Singh in 1979.
Asked what kind of message was India sending with Prime Minister Modi skipping the 17th NAM Summit, Ansari said, “India is participating. NAM is not a conference of Prime Ministers.
“Prime Ministers have been going but there have been occasions when Prime Ministers for a variety of reasons have not been able to go but India’s participation remains,” he said.
He also asserted that India will strongly take up its concerns about terrorism at the summit as it has been doing so at all international forums.
“Yes we are doing it (raising concerns over terrorism) on all fora and certainly it (NAM) is an important forum and we will take it up, no question about it,” Ansari told reporters on his way to attend the NAM summit.
“Terror is something which impedes everything. If our objective is development, then terror cuts right across it. We need peace, we need social peace, we need international peace…both these are being interrupted by terror. Whatever the form terror takes, it is terror, it is terrorising civilian populations and therefore if the population is terrorised then it cannot devote itself to its normal pursuits, foremost amongst them is development. So it very much has to be taken up,” he asserted.
Asked if there has been a shift in India’s foreign policy with the strengthening of the Indo-US partnership and if NAM has become less important, Ansari said there has been no such shift.
“There was a methodology in 1961. The methodology underwent changes in the 70s, 80s, and 90. Again the methodologies are being adjusted but the objectives have not changed…I don’t think we have shifted (in our foreign policy) and I don’t think it should be seen as black or white, it is always shades of grey,” he said.
Vice President, however, emphasised that the Non Aligned Movement has been evolving and must continue to evolve to stay relevant to the times.
“It (NAM) has continuously evolved since its inception in 1961 and therefore it must evolve. Any organisation if it does not respond to the requirements of the day loses its relevance. So whatever our priorities of the day are that is to be determined collectively by consensus. Those priorities have to be addressed there is no way out of it,” he said.
Ansari stated that the group of countries that now number 120 came together because there were common concerns and common interests.