There are sometimes "things bigger than politics" when one steps outside the country, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday, days after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi repeatedly attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government during his ongoing United States visit.
Addressing Indian Americans in Santa Clara in the US earlier this week, Gandhi, a former Congress party president and an ex-MP, described Prime Minister Modi as a "specimen" and also attacked his government's policies on various fronts.
Speaking at a diaspora event in Cape Town after attending the meeting of BRICS foreign ministers, Jaishankar said that he can talk for himself and does not do politics while travelling abroad.
"Look, I said I can only talk for myself I try when I go abroad not to do politics. I'm perfectly prepared to argue and argue very vigorously at home. Okay, so you will never find me wanting in that regard," he said in response to a question.
"But I think you know, even a democratic culture has a certain collective responsibility. There is a national interest there is a collective image. There are sometimes things bigger than politics and when you step outside the country, I think that's important to remember.
"So I might differ strongly with someone. I could say to you, I differ with them. But how I counter it, I would like to go back home and do it. And watch me when I get back," India's top diplomat said.
Jaishankar said one part of the Indian foreign policy today is extremely focused securing the welfare of Indian citizens abroad.
He said given the globalisation of Indians today, it is important that systems are put in place which will respond to difficult situations.
"Sometimes they can be very country specific. We had a few weeks ago, very nasty situation in Sudan, and we have 5,000 Indians died last year, when the fighting started in Ukraine. We had more than 20,000 Indians now. In fact, when I look at these last nine years, almost every year, we've had one situation somewhere.
"So, it's something which will keep happening. And we have that fundamental obligation today to take care of Indian Indians. Working, living, traveling abroad," he said.
"It could be something like providing a flight, it could even be sometimes there are people who are stuck abroad, who have no money who are stuck in cases, they can't afford it. You know, we unfortunately have cases sometimes that people will pass away," he added.