Indian-origin MPs to bat for India


New Delhi : With international spotlight on a rising India, Vice President Hamid Ansari Wednesday kicked off a programme for over a dozen MPs of Indian origin from Western countries that will enable them to influence the global debate on the country’s “legitimate concerns” in the world.

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“The critical question relates to our capacity to influence the debate in terms of India’s legitimate concerns. This would depend on our intrinsic strength,” Ansari told MPs of Indian origin from Britain, the European Parliament and the US.

The week-long programme, which takes the MPs to Mumbai as well, will give them an insight into India’s position on leading regional and global issues, including UN reforms, the WTO talks, climate change and peace process in the Middle East, home to over four million non-resident Indians.

The programme, attended by 16 parliamentarians, has been organised by the public diplomacy division of the external affairs ministry, which is headed by Arif Khan, additional secretary.

Senior diplomats, strategic experts and economists will brief the MPs on the socio-economic, strategic, regional and multilateral issues that engage and confront a changing India.

They will also be interacting with members of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, United Services Institute of India and apex chambers of commerce and industry. The parliamentarians will meet External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma.

“Each (of you) is in a unique and privileged position to help build strong and enduring bonds of friendship and cooperation between governments and peoples and to mould public policies and opinion in matters relating to India and Indians,” Ansari said.

“The purpose of this gathering is to inform rather than propagate. Its objective would be served if the invitees depart with better comprehension of what the land of their ancestors is about, and what are its hopes and aspirations.”

The idea is not to focus just on the economic success of India, but to familiarise the MPs with “other realities of dehumanising poverty, of perpetual struggles for survival and of painful contrasts”, Ansari stressed.

“In the final analysis, our success in addressing these challenges would determine our place in the world,” Ansari said while underscoring the need for inclusive growth in the country.

“These are other realities that need to be understood in their totality since they cover three-fourth of our population and put in perspective the macro-economic growth aggregates.

“They account for the correctives that we are compelled to apply in order to ensure inclusive growth; they also provide the rationale for the positions we take in multilateral negotiations on trade, environment and a range of related questions,” he said.

Ansari also underlined the importance of the Indian experience in managing diversity for living in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural world.

“You have shown that one can successfully integrate in his or her country and yet retain one’s multiple identities,” he told the delegates.