Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue, India’s flagship event on geo-politics, organised by the ministry of external affairs and think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Gokhale said there has been a broad consensus in India on its foreign policy for the past 70 years.
He said foreign policy is determined by India’s resolve to maintain its decisional and strategic autonomy. “In the early part of our time, it worked with non-alignment. We have moved beyond that. I think at this stage, we are aligned, but the alignment is issue-based. It is not ideological. That gives us the capacity to be flexible, gives us the capacity to maintain our decisional autonomy,” he said.
“At the same time, we are not the India of 1950s and 60s. We have big stakes in all parts of the world, on all issues concerning the world. And therefore, we ought, in my view, to align with groups, countries, with issues where national interest is involved,” the foreign secretary said.
He noted that as the “most diverse country on earth”, India will set an example to the world on the aspect of democracy. “As the most diverse country in the world we Indians know there is no alternative to democracy – and we demonstrate it every five years,” he said.
The foreign secretary said he was looking at partnerships like G20, which he said should be a “global rule-making partnership”, the Indo-Pacific partnerships and at a philosophical level, a tie-up between science and humanities.
Gokhale said there are three main challenges that the world is facing today –unilateralism versus multilateralism, fourth industrial revolution and jobs, and science versus ethics.
“You have a huge benefit that comes out from the fourth industrial revolution, but the question is for a country like India, is the manufacturing wave over? Are we in an era of jobless growth? And if we are in the era of jobless growth, how do we ensure that how do we grow on one hand and how do we maintain social stability on the other?.There is a contradiction between industry 4.0 and jobs,” he said.