External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Tuesday over two-lakh stranded non-resident Indians (NRIs) were brought back to India in the last four-and-a-half years.
According to her, the Narendra Modi government had given priority to national interests in its foreign policy and India had maintained good relationship with other countries, even as some of them share troubled relations with each other.
Ms Swaraj was speaking at an event organised by the Shree Shakti Peeth, an affiliate of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, the women's arm of the RSS.
"There have been many foreign ministers earlier, but was the safety of its citizens abroad ever the priority of the external affairs ministry? Never. I initiated 'pardes mein apka dost, Bharatiya dootavas' (your friend overseas, the Indian Embassy).
"There are people (to help) and several other options when a person gets into trouble in his own country. But, he has no one to rescue when he lands into trouble abroad due to fraud and several other reasons. There are several such examples... To give a figure, we have brought back 2,03,666 NRIs who faced troubles abroad," the minister said.
According to her, bringing "balance into imbalanced relationship" was India's diplomacy, which it carried out by giving importance to the national interests.
"There are 193 member countries of the United Nations and it is not that every country has a cordial relationship with each other. The big countries (super powers) have enmity amongst themselves.
"But, from the very first day, we implemented our 'sanskar' of 'national interest first' in the foreign policy... India has maintained a very good relationship with the countries fighting with each other and those which don't have a good relationship, by putting national interest first in its foreign policy," she said.
America and Russia share a bad relationship with each other. America has put sanctions on Russia, but India has a very good relationship with both the countries. Despite the sanctions, India purchased S-400 (air defence system) from Russia and did COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) with the US, the minister said.
Similarly, the UAE and Iran share a bad relationship. But India has a good relationship with both the countries. The UAE had honoured Modi with its highest civilian honour during his visit there and India continue to purchase oil from Iran despite the US sanctions, she said.
"Besides, India has a very good relationship with Israel and Palestine despite their bad relationship. It is all about maintaining balance and putting national interest first in the country's foreign policy," Swaraj said.
Talking about India's relationship with its neighbouring countries, she said: "Prime Minister Modi wants 'sabka saath, sabka vikas' (with everyone, for everyone's development)... not only within India, but the neighbour countries should also not be left out in development.
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