NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asked Indian diplomats to "shed old mindsets" and help the country position itself in a leading role, rather than just a balancing force globally.
Noting that there were new "actors" and new "threats" to global peace and prosperity, he told India's top diplomats from nearly 120 missions that India had a great responsibility in helping the world counter these challenges.
"The present global environment represents a rare opportunity, when the world is keen to embrace India, and India is moving forward with confidence," Modi said and asked them to use this unique opportunity to help India position itself in a leading role, rather than just a balancing force, globally.
The Prime Minister asked the diplomats to "shed old mindsets" and said they should be quick to adapt to changing global situations, according to an official release here.
Inaugurating a four-day "Heads of Indian Missions" conference with the theme 'diplomacy with development', Modi said India must take the lead in countering challenge of climate change, and also work for a change in global attitudes towards the challenges of climate change.
Describing the diplomats as "shining vibrant representatives" (tejasvi, jeevant anshpunj) of India's glorious heritage, Modi emphasised the role of "Heads of Missions" in projecting India to the world.
He also asked the diplomats, who included envoys from the consulates, to work ceaselessly and with a clear mind on India's development priorities and to advance India's interests abroad.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, her junior minister V K Singh, and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar were among those present on the occasion.
Crediting the Indian diplomatic community for the swift adoption of International Day of Yoga by the United Nations with a record number of co-sponsors, Modi said Yoga should be projected as a possible solution to common everyday problems of people across the world, including stress management.
The Prime Minister also called for preparing a compendium of best practices of Missions across the world and spreading them horizontally.
Asking the Missions to contribute towards developing a culture of "Swachhta" –cleanliness- and to remain ahead of the curve on digital diplomacy, he asked them to maintain digital libraries showcasing the best of Indian culture and keep regular contact with prominent individuals from other countries, who visited or planned to visit India.
"Relationships have been important for all mankind throughout history, even as humanity has struggled to deal with challenges," the Prime Minister added.
The Prime Minister said the NITI Aayog has recognised the Indian diaspora as a great strength of the nation, and Heads of Missions must come up with innovative ways in which to positively build upon this strength.
Modi, along with Swaraj, unveiled a memorial plaque in the External Affairs Ministry office in Jawaharlal Nehru Bhavan.
The memorial plaque is an array of six installations representing the theme of 'Transformation'.
It comprises six sandstone stems of "Bird of Paradise" flower in various stages of unfurling. The sculpture seeks to combine the age-old stone craft in the form of sandstone stems with the flowering of petals made of titanium, a contemporary material with subtle hues of colours.