Updated: July 21, 2015 8:27:45 am
On Friday, diplomats, analysts and experts came together to discuss India and its place in the world at the release of C Raja Mohan’s Modi’s World – Expanding India’s Sphere of Influence in Delhi. The book, a compilation of columns by Raja Mohan, Contributing Editor, The Indian Express, and a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, has been published by Harper Collins in association with The Indian Express and Observer Foundation.
Guests at the programme included former Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and economist Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini, Israeli ambassador Daniel Carmon, Bhutanese Ambassador Vetsop Namgyel and Sri Lankan High Commissioner Sudharshan Seneviratne. Also present at the event were SK Lamba, formerly India’s Special Envoy on Afghanistan, US Deputy Chief of Mission Michael P Pelletier, Spanish Deputy Head of Mission Magdalena Cruz Yabar, Joseph Kruzich, Spokesperson of American Embassy, Atul Punj, Chairman of Punj Lloyd, bureaucrats Venu Rajamony, Vikas Swaroop, Santosh Jha and Amardeep Singh Gill. There was also a sizeable representation from the international media.
The release was preceded by a panel discussion on the various points of continuity and departure in Modi’s foreign policy initiative. The panelists comprised MP and former MoS (External Affairs) Shashi Tharoor, columnist Ashok Malik, and Raja Mohan himself, and was moderated by Shyam Saran, formerly PM’s special envoy on Indo-US Nuclear Deal and Climate Change.
Saran praised Raja Mohan for identifying the “unusual” initiatives taken by Modi on foreign policy. Meanwhile, Tharoor, describing Modi’s foreign policy as “a reversal of BJP policy”, said even though he appreciated the celebration of the International Yoga Day for leveraging India’s soft power, he found the effort to get it registered in the Guinness Book of World Record “tacky”. Malik said the link between the country’s domestic economic transformation and foreign policy was made more strongly by this government than any other previous government.
Speaking at the event, Raja Mohan said that in the past one year, the government has been trying to back the issues initiated during the tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, such as the nuclear issue, and that it was commendable that Modi was willing to dissociate himself from NDA’s stand when it was in the opposition. PM Sukumar, CEO, Harper Collins, said the book tells us what can be expected in foreign relations in the coming years.
As the evening headed to an end, Anant Goenka, Wholetime Director and head of New Media, The Indian Express, presented a watercolour portrait by Shyam Kumar, Chief Illustrator, The Financial Express, to Foreign Secretary, S Jaishankar, Chief Guest for the evening. This was followed by a book-signing session by the author.
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