Asking the media to shed its "obsession" with Pakistan, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday rued the lack of expertise in the country on international issues and exhorted the youth to think of India's place in the world.
"Our foreign policy debates in parliament and the media seem obsessed with Pakistan, or worse ephemeral about Pakistan," Tharoor said in his lecture on Why Foreign Policy Matters? at the Kennedy Hall Auditorium of the Aligarh Muslim University here.
He called for a more proactive participation by society, and particularly its educated young people, in thinking about India's place in the world, and asked them to participate in shaping the country's international posture.
The ultimate purpose of any country's foreign policy is to promote the security and well being of its own citizens, he said.
"We want a world that gives us the conditions of peace and security that will permit us to grow and flourish, safe from foreign depredations but open to external opportunities," he added.
Tharoor deplored the lack of expertise on international strategic issues and the paucity of think tanks in India.
There are a handful of thinkers on international issues and think tanks, but in quantum and quality of expertise and range of output they all have a long way to go before they match the role played by, for example, their equivalents in the US, he said.
"The situation will not improve unless we improve the study of international affairs at our colleges and universities," he said.
He said that the external affairs ministry would welcome much more spirited exchanges between diplomats and academicians, the corporate sector and civil society.
"The sustainability and success of our international policy depends on both leadership by the government of India and the active involvement of young Indians," he argued.
Tharoor, also a well-known novelist and a former UN official, called upon the youth to commit themselves to thinking about India's place in the world and "your own role in it, helping to shape it, and one day, I hope, helping to lead it."
Responding a question raised at the interactive session after the lecture, Tharoor denied that India had departed from first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's foreign policy towards the Muslim world, especially the Arab World.
AMU Vice-Chancellor P.K. Abdul Azis said the university has decided to create a Centre of International Studies and Diplomacy from the next academic session. Ishrat Aziz, a retired senior diplomat, is preparing a blueprint of the proposed centre, he said.
He added that the human resource development ministry has sanctioned a Civil Service Coaching Academy with a grant of around Rs.10 crores so that the AMU could produce better civil servants to serve the country.