In a move aimed at assessing how India can adapt to a newer, more aggressive role in international affairs, the government will hold the first ever conclave of all Indian heads of missions abroad.
One of the projected scenarios is if India manages to get a waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group to begin conducting nuclear commerce and the direct implications on India’s foreign policy.
Every one of the around 150 Indian envoys abroad has been called back to New Delhi in August to participate in the first ever joint foreign policy review. Every head of mission will have to make a presentation about the situation in the country where he or she is posted and make projections outlining how India’s best interests can be served in the future.
For the first time, the government is showing an element of forward planning, preparing for a larger world role.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will host and chair the intensive, “proactive, interactive” collective brainstorming sessions between
August 20 and 23, sources in the MEA told Hindustan Times.
He will meet them over lunch, dinner and finally host a
reception at which the Indian envoys abroad can interact
with all the foreign envoys in New Delhi.
The Prime Minister will also meet all the Indian ambassadors and high commissioners.
While this kind of exercise will be the first ever for the
Indian government, it is an
annual feature of the French President's calendar. Each year the French President, who directly heads the French foreign ministry’s operations at the Quai d’Orsay, hosts each of his ambassadors across the world
to review their individual
performance and to get an
assessment of how to increase French influence in that
The plan is similar for India.
The EAM will personally
assess the calibre and capability of each envoy, what their
performance has been like and make reports, in the run-up
to next year's search for the
next Foreign Secretary. Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon will hand over charge in July 2009, by which time a new
government will be in place at the Centre, and Mukherjee is keen to ensure there is no controversy surrounding the next appointment.
The brief given to all the envoys is also to thrash out new foreign policy initiatives and tackle issues like terrorism.
With India playing an increasingly key international role in disaster relief and
rehabilitation, both in China and Myanmar (in fact, several western nations have been
routing their requests to offer aid to Myanmar through
India) and hopeful of an enhanced role should the India-US nuclear deal comes through (with ramifications in the
United Nations Security Council), the work of the envoys is cut out.