Rejecting suggestions that India was getting "isolated" in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) because of its improving relations with the United States, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today that Indo-US ties were not at the cost of other nations or their interests.
"There is no question of India being isolated. Our stand is fully in conformity with what our founding fathers would have liked us to do. Non- alignment is a state of mind and ability to exercise an independent judgment of all issues.
"I think in that sense non-alignment continues to have its relevance. I don't buy this argument that most members of the NAM do not want relations with the US. And we are not seeking good relations with the US at the cost of other countries," Singh said.
He said India's desire to normalise and expand relations with the US in no way contradicts or no way runs counter to the interest of other countries." The Prime Minister was replying to a question from journalists accompanying him on his visit to Brazil and Cuba.
On foreign policy initiatives, he said as have-nots of the world, India has to toss all the balls.
"I have said that foreign policy is essentially a device to widen our development options. The foremost problem before our country is to get rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflicts millions of people."
Whether it was improving ties with the US or improving relations with China or choosing the potential of cooperation with other developing countries whether in Africa or in Latin America, he thought it fitted into the overall picture of making use of all opportunities to expand economic and other multi-faceted contacts with other countries.
On his visit to Brazil and the India-Brazil-South Africa summit, Singh said Brazil had always fascinated him personally as it had produced people like the great economist Sensor Quartado.
Brazil was now in a state of development where there were many complementarities between Brazil and India.
"I do believe our trade is expanding fairly fast. Brazil is an agricultural superpower. We can learn a great deal from the way their universities function, the way agricultural research functions," he said adding Brazil has done remarkably well in energy and offered India participation in exploration and development of their oil fields.
There was considerable scope for participation in science and technology, energy, particularly ethanol initiative, and in agriculture. Brazil could also learn a lot from India's experience, he added.
Similarly, he said, India could learn a great deal from Cuba and China as well. Universal literacy, health-care standards are areas in which India needs to improve its performance.
It was certainly possible as never before to abolish poverty, ignorance and disease for which the means existed but what was missing was the social engineering.
And it was a task for the world statesman as there was a global economy of sorts existing.
"But we lack a global policy a stable global polity, we need to democratise the structures of governance at the international level so that concerted efforts can be made to make the process of globalisation as inclusive as it should be," he said.