BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Friday said India needs to take itself seriously on the world stage in matters of foreign policy if it intends to be taken seriously by the world.
Delivering the 11th Nani Palkhivala Memorial Lecture at the Madras University’s Centenary Hall on the subject of ‘India and the World’, the Gujarat Chief Minister held forth on his views on foreign policy and stressed for a return to the foreign policy path laid down while Atal Bihari Vajpayee was PM.
“The immediate thing to do is take ourselves and our country seriously. There is no seriousness at all at present,’’ Modi said during his talk held under a tight security blanket after the J Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK administration pulled out all stops to ensure the Chennai event went off without hitches.
“We cannot allow China to dominate India in foreign policy matters. We have been insensitive when we should have been sensitive. We remained weak when we needed to be strong,’’ Narendra Modi told a packed hall where a small section cheered every word that he spoke.
The Gujarat Chief Minister said tackling terrorism must also take centrestage in India’s foreign policy much like what the Vajpayee government did and managed to counter Pakistan's efforts to bring the Kashmir issue to the centrestage.
“Terrorism needs a special mention. No country has suffered more than India. It is central to foreign policy as it is driven from abroad,’’ he said.
Modi also emphasised that modern warfare will be fought in the cyber world. “We need to have strong walls against it. Firewalls are not going to be enough. Walls made up of human hearts are going to be needed,’’ he said.
Modi in the course of his speech even made an almost farcical proposal for foreign policy to be handled by different states in the country. “We have 30 states, let each state be responsible for relations with one country. India is not just New Delhi. India is vast and powerful,’’ he said. “The time has come for foreign policy to be driven by people not politicians. It is