In 2019, PM Narendra Modi unexpectedly gave former Foreign Secretary Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar the task of leading the External Affairs Ministry, one of the most crucial portfolios in any cabinet. At the time, the opposition attempted to undermine his authority. For that they obstructed him at parliamentary briefings and demanded clarification from the PM or other senior cabinet Minister, on subjects that come under Dr Jaishankar’s purview.
From the outset, the objective of these smear campaigns was evident: to depict the Modi government as being ruled by a single person with an authoritarian approach. The false notion that Ministers like Dr. Jaishankar are mere rubber stamps were intentionally scripted by the opposition and its ecosystem.
Jaishankar comes back & goes to meet Modi.
Jaishankar: Sir, feel how smooth my arms are.
(Modi feels his arms.)
Modi: Amazing. Like silk. How come?
Jaishankar: I did what you said. You told me to go to US for waxing.
It would be inaccurate to think that such nefarious plotting is a thing of the past. Although the method may have taken different forms, the fundamental goal of undermining his authority remains unchanged.
The recent manifestations
Indian Foreign Policy has effectively navigated the challenges of a rapidly changing global environment. Under the leadership of Foreign Minister Dr. Jaishankar, it has moved beyond the passive and isolated approach of the Nehruvian style. The Foreign Minister has successfully challenged his critics both domestically and internationally on multiple occasions.
However, what has badly rattled the Indian leftist circles is Dr. Jaishankar’s linking of the current successful Foreign Policy to Hindu epic tales such as the Ramayan and the Mahabharat. Evidently, he frequently advises aspiring Foreign Service officers to learn the art of diplomacy from Bhagwan Krishna and Lord Hanuman.
Due to these references, Dr. Jaishankar has become a favoured target of the leftist and Congress circles. They are offering unsolicited advice, using movie references.
Rahul Gandhi, a Congress leader, has repeatedly attempted to challenge Dr. Jaishankar’s understanding of Foreign Policy without success. He has launched attacks against the Foreign Minister by using the opinions of unknown experts or ordinary citizens (who have often been discovered to be party members) and accusing him of failing the nation in the face of Chinese incursions.
Dr. Jaishankar firmly rebuked the Congress leader and completely discredited his arguments. He criticised Rahul Gandhi for questioning his knowledge of geopolitics. With a tongue-in-cheek remark, Dr Jaishankar said, “If I would need to know something (about China), I won’t go to the Chinese ambassador to get inputs, but to my military leadership.”
Later, Jairam Ramesh, the Congress media incharge, emulated Rahul Gandhi by belittling Dr. Jaishankar’s authority. He characterised the current Foreign Policy as one that follows the strategy of “DDLJ” (Deny, Distract, Lie, Justify).Similarly, Congress has been launching personal attacks against him to delegitimise his standing. For example, Congress leaders accuse his son of working for an organisation which received funds from China.
Bollywood’s Blind Spot: The Need to Grasp Geopolitics
Jairam Ramesh’s sermons but not the only one that had reference to a make-believe world, that is, through cinema. In a similar attempt, some members of the leftist ecosystem suggested that Dr Jaishankar, a former technocrat turned politician, and his team at the MEA should take lessons from movies like Pathan.
The prominent media organisation argued that Dr Jaishankar should learn important lessons from the film. The tactful attempt successfully pulled a film review and “Aman ki Asha” cliche in the name of foreign policy lessons.
The straightforward response to this suggestion is a firm “No.” The perspective should instead be reversed. Bollywood and self-proclaimed liberals should acknowledge that the “Aman ki Asha” peace dove they tamed has now fully transformed into a powerful eagle. Now, it assertively safeguards the national interest.
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