India does not seek isolationist arrangements when it speaks of self-reliance: Foreign Secy

New Delhi, May 15 (PTI) A self-reliant India will automatically be more 'internationalist' India as it does not seek self-centered or 'isolationist' arrangements, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Friday.

His comments came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for making India self-reliant by turning the coronavirus crisis into an opportunity through sustained focus on making the Indian economy globally competitive.

In an address at the National Defence College, Shringla said all crises alter geopolitics and there will be significant changes too after COVID-19 blows over, such as re-balancing of hard and soft power, emergence of new multilateral conversations and change in strength of 'players'.

'As we remain engaged globally, we also need to become 'Atma Nirbhar' or self-reliant, as the prime minister observed in his address to the nation recently, to recover from the current crisis,' the foreign secretary said.

'We do not, however, seek self-centered or isolationist arrangements when we speak of self-reliance. A self-reliant India will automatically be a more internationalist India,' he added.

The foreign secretary said the coronavirus pandemic has reaffirmed India's role as a 'pharmacy of the world', adding that medical supplies were sent to 133 countries which included 446 million hydroxychloroquine tablets and 1.54 billion paracetamol tablets.

Talking about major challenges facing the globe, Shringla said terrorism remains a 'growing and resistant cancer' which continues to destabilise and weaken states besides diverting their resources.

He said though India's efforts led to isolation of terrorists and their sponsors, the nation needs to ensure that the world follows an 'undifferentiated and unambiguous' approach to terrorism.

'Radical ideologies continue to generate violence and insecurity. As a country which has suffered for long from cross-border terrorism, we have been steadfast in seeking action against those who control, support, fund and shelter terrorists,' Shringla said.

'There are no good or bad terrorists. We also need to ensure that politicisation of global mechanisms such as UN listings is avoided, and the global community finalises a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism,' he added.

The top diplomat also referred to growing global uncertainties.

'We also live in a very dangerous world. The current pandemic underlines some of these dangers. It is a time of disruptions, of the unexpected and of the uncertain,' he said.

'The pandemic, and its consequences, immediate and future, are an illustration of the level of uncertainty that we must live with. We are faced with new and uncertain dangers even as we struggle with existing threats to international peace and security,' Shringla added.

On the impact of the coronavirus crisis, he said it has provided India with an opportunity to take note of the extent of globalisation and integration and of the sweeping nature of the transition.

'This is also a time of opportunity. Empirically speaking, all crises are succeeded by periods of growth. The Great Depression and the Second World War were followed by one of the greatest sustained spurts of economic growth,' he said.

On the convergence of interests between the military and diplomatic establishments, he said it is no longer like a coin and 'foreign and security policies are now facets of a many-sided polygon.' PTI MPB NSD NSD