External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the National Democratic Alliance government had effectively used diplomacy as a force multiplier to significantly strengthen its flagship programmes such as 'Make in India'.
Addressing the 88th Annual General Meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry on 'Translating Aspirations into Reality: India @2022", Swaraj said the government had ‘refashioned’ foreign policy with the focus to catalyse progress at home.
"Consequently, much of our diplomacy focus has shifted to its economic dimensions, especially in facilitating business interactions," Swaraj said. The minister said there had been a marked increase in foreign direct investment commitments in the past year, estimated at 40 percent more than the one before.
"The 'Make in India' programme has started to gain increasing traction, the latest vote of confidence coming in the $12 billion commitment made by Japan during Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe's visit," she said. Swaraj said the 'Skill India' endeavour has found experienced and responsive partners, ranging from Germany to Singapore. The international response to the 'Digital India' campaign and the interest in 'Smart Cities' has also been very strong, while the Ganga rejuvenation programme has been offered best practices and effective technologies, she said.
"Spreading the message of 'easier to do business' is one of our major goals. So too is the involvement of CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) in this effort," Swaraj said. She said accelerating of long-pending procurement decisions for defence forces had complemented the opportunities that the government has created abroad.
The minister also said ‘the mindset of our bureaucracy has completely changed’ in providing succour to Indians in need of help, including better passport services or evacuating Indians from trouble regions in West Asia. She claimed India's foreign policy of past 18 months had deepened ties with the US, Japan, China and key European countries such as France, the UK and Germany.
Swaraj counted settling the longstanding boundary problem with Bangladesh as a key success in the neighbourhood. "By calling for an inclusive Nepal and urging a political solution to long pending political problems, we are committed to unity, peace and stability of Nepal which will create a more durable foundation for our bilateral relations to prosper," she said.
Swaraj said ties with Pakistan have predictably been the most challenging to take forward. "However, the recent NSA (National Security Advisor)-level dialogue on security and terrorism and the establishment of a comprehensive bilateral dialogue following my visit to Islamabad now offers a pathway," she said.
The minister said India had for decades operated in an international system that is driven by Western concepts and values. "The India of today aspires to project its own heritage on the global scene. There is much to be done on that score," she said.