New Delhi: Amid the global economic downturn, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said the Indian economy and society are resilient enough to overcome the crisis, and outlined the need for a proactive foreign policy to shape a favourable external environment of India.

"Our economy, our polity and our society are resilient enough to overcome the present  adversities. India's future growth and development depends substantially on a  favourable external environment," Manmohan Singh said on the opening day of the fourth conference of Indian heads of mission.

The PM stressed that for foreign policy to effectively serve domestic  growth needs, it is imperative that efforts are equally geared toward finding economic opportunities in trade and financial flows.

The foreign policy, he stressed, should also help in the search for privileged access to critical or rare natural resources - which could be sources of energy or other minerals vital for modern industries.

Stressing that the imperatives of India's foreign policy have not changed despite the changing international landscape, Manmohan Singh said: "Security against external threats, economic prosperity and sharing in global public goods remain the central impulses."

"A dynamic environment, however, demands constant fine-tuning of the instruments of  policy. We must also not remain content with making the best of a difficult external environment, but instead attempt to actively shape a favourable external environment for India," he said.

Around 120 envoys from Indian missions abroad have gathered here for an annual strategy meeting to brainstorm on various issues and challenges that confront India's foreign policy.

The conference seeks to discuss an entire gamut of foreign policy issues that include UN reforms, counter-terrorism, nuclear proliferation, India's relations with neighbouring countries, the situation in West Asia, India-China relations and India-Pakistan relations.

Projecting India as an "engine of progress" for neighbouring countries, the PM also stressed that India has worked towards "establishing friendly and cooperative ties with our neighbours" and emphasised the idea of establishing greater connectivity in South Asia to promote the movement of goods, services, investment and  technology.

He also spoke about India's growing political and economic engagement with the major powers.

He reiterated India's commitment to partnering Africa in its resurgence.

The envoys' conference is part of the government's strategy to make Indian diplomacy more people-centric and to refurbish it to handle a host of contemporary challenges that enables India to play a proactive role in the international arena and realise its aspiration for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.


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