India is not a soft state but a strong nation that has earned the respect and admiration of the world, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said in New Delhi on Wednesday while rejecting a charge about India being soft on China over the border issue.
"We are not a soft state. We are the state which has earned the respect of the world," Krishna said while responding to Shiv Sena MP Anant Geete's contention that India was being soft on China and was not prepared to tackle the Chinese threat.
"I reject the contention with the contempt it deserves," Krishna asserted.
Recalling his visit to the US 40 years ago, Krishna, who studied in the US as a Fulbright scholar, said that there was a sea change in the attitude of the world towards India. "India is now seen in the world with respect and admiration."
"We are looked at now with admiration and even subterranean jealousy," he said. "That is the kind of new-found confidence we have", he told the Lok Sabha.
Repudiating the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) contention that the government has been soft on China in the face of Chinese aggressiveness on the border and other issues, Krishna said: "There is a sea change that has come about since 1962. We can't be browbeaten by anyone."
India has become a strong nation and is in a position to face any adversary, Krishna asserted.
"How can you say that our policy towards China is soft? Didn't the prime minister go to Arunachal Pradesh," he asked.
Earlier, while opening the debate on India-China relations in parliament, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi had said that the country was in the same state as 1962 when China invaded India.
Joshi also alluded to Beijing's objections to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, over which Beijing claims sovereignty, and Tibetan leader Dalai Lama's visit to Tawang.
Despite Beijing's repeated posturing and assertiveness, the Dalai Lama visited the Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh with New Delhi making it clear that the Tibetan leader is India's honoured guest and has, therefore, the right to visit any part of the country.
"Arunachal Pradesh is part and parcel of this great country," Krishna asserted.