India does not believe in 'Me First' approach: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: May 21, 2018, 10:45 PM IST
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File photo. Photograph:(ANI)

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday warned that the world was reeling under a storm of protectionism and said India did not agree with US President Donald Trump's "Me First" approach on the issue.

India, she stressed, believed in the concept of "We, Us and Ourselves".

"I was sad when President Trump, in the UN General Assembly, said his slogan was Me First," the external affairs minister said.

She was referring to Trump's speech at the United Nations in September last year when he had said, "As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first."

"There is a storm of protectionism at the global level which is centred around the concept of Me and Myself but India believes in the concept of We, Us and Ourselves. If everyone views the other as equal then there is no place for protectionism in it," she said.

Swaraj was delivering the first Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Memorial International lecture on 'Soft Power Diplomacy: Strength of India', organised by the ICCR.

After Trump's speech, Swaraj said she had a meeting with ministers of Latin American and Caribbean States.

"A foreign minister of a small country spoke about President Trump's speech of Me First. She said if everyone says (and follows the policy) of Me First then how will my country sustain."

Swaraj said she pointed out that India had a different approach.

"I said India does not have the tradition of (following the policy of) Me First. I said my speech will have (the concept of) Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah," she said, quoting a sloka from the Vedas that translates into "May everyone be happy".

"When everyone is happy then everyone will have the provision of food and security," she said.

The minister said India believed in the policy of assisting other countries, especially those who required a helping hand.

"If we don't do this then developed countries will continue to grow and under-developed countries will remain under-developed. So how will economic disparity reduce," she asked.

Swaraj said Indian culture, yoga, classical dance, movies, cuisine and Information Technology were a "treasure of soft power". 

Narrating anecdotes about the craze for Indian films abroad, the external affairs minister said the passion was not restricted to Hindi cinema but extended to regional language films such as 'Bahubali'. 

"Chinese President Xi Jinping wanted 'Dangal' to be screened at the BRICS Summit at Xiamen. The Indian ambassador in Mongolia wanted the movie dubbed in Mongolian as wrestling is the national sport of that country. When I met Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh of Mongolia , he said he wanted to be an actor in Bollywood. To this, I quipped we need handsome leaders in politics too," she said.

Swaraj said during bilateral meetings, foreign delegations proposed that the Bollywood industry shoot in their countries as it boosted tourism.

She also shared an anecdote on how leaders in the recently held India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit came up with a demand for a song from the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' and for 'Bol Radha Bol Sangam' from the 1964 Raj Kapoor-starrer 'Sangam'.