India Today Conclave 2023 : Let’s begin with a question. When did India gain its independence? You would say ahh, that’s 1947, even a kid knows that. Yes, and a kid must know. But what I point out here is that India gained its independence in a bipolar world of the US and Soviet Union and since then the transitions have never halted. From bipolar to America’s hegemony, to the US moving closer to China, to the multipolar illusion and to the stage we are at today, where India has emerged as a new pole of its own, having a distinct voice in the world, leading the global south and denying to overpowered by anyone in the narrative war.
Sometimes, even going to former colonialists and telling them that the era of colonialism is over and they should grow out of the mindset that their problems are the world’s problem. Yes, you guessed it right Indian External Affairs Minister Dr Subramanyam Jaishankar had said this in Europe, that Europe’s problems are not the world’s problems.
He has also refused to be ruled over on the issue of India buying discounted Russia oil. India was accused of funding the ‘Russian war in Ukraine’. Yes, and what did the minister do? He said it out loud that Europe spends in an afternoon what India spends in a quarter maybe, so who is funding the war?
This is how we have evolved and put forth the ‘India First Foreign Policy’ with realistic diplomacy. This was again visible when Dr Jaishankar said, ‘pyaar se samjha lenge’ regarding the new American Ambassador….. at the India Today Conclave 2023. Like every time, he came, saw and conquered.
“Pyaar se Samjha Lenge,” Jaishankar on new US envoy
As most of you must be knowing, Eric Garcetti, a close aide of US President Joe Biden has been confirmed as the new US Ambassador to India earlier this week.
What must make the Indian establishment worried are the views of Garcetti about India. Garcetti, in the past, has levelled allegations of human-rights violations in India. An outspoken critic of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Garcetti had said that the new law is discriminatory towards Muslims.
When Dr Jaishankar was asked about the same at the India Today Conclave 2023, explaining the nitty and gritties of the CAA he said that persecuted Hindus in countries like Pakistan have nowhere to go except India. He also cited the example of laws in Germany. That ease the process of people of German lineage. Upon being asked what happens when Garcetti arrives here, the foreign minister said, “Let him come here. Pyar se samjha denge’.
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The shadow of Ukraine crisis over India’s Presidency at G20
Foreign Policy is a tough pitch to bat on, but kudos to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he has picked the right man for the job. The past one and a half year has not been easy with Russia planning to run its “military operation” in Ukraine. The entire world has been clearly divided in two groups, one sending arms and ammunition to Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia, the other standing strong with Russia, and here India emerges with a third group of its own.
What does India stand for? Peace. What do we advocate for? Dialogue. However, it has not been easy for the nation with the G20’s presidency. When asked about the same, Jaishankar said, ‘India has done a decent job in the first two meetings’. Saying that the only agenda is to not manage but take G20 back to what it was originally constituted for.
He says that the original concerns like increasing debt, food shortage, terrorism, health infrastructure and fertiliser shortage in the world were pushed to the periphery last year in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. Jaishankar pointed out that India has comfortably brought back the focus with agreement on 22 paragraphs out of the total 24 in the outcome document.
He also attacked the opposition for not being realistic enough in a crisis like this, along with India, which spoke for the global south along with other countries of the world. India actually went to over 125 countries of the world, asked them what they wanted on the table, and now they feel that India is batting for them, says Dr. Jaishankar over India’s presidency at the G20.
India Today Conclave 2023: Jaishankar responds on relationship with neighbors across on the Himalayas
Chinese President Xi Jinping would probably be visiting India. In the wake of this, Dr. Jaishankar agreed that this is a “very challenging and abnormal phase with our ties with China”. He says that understanding was in place regarding the borders between India and China, which were violated by the Chinese side. Dr. Jaishankar said that although India has been making peace agreements, it has been made very clear to its Chinese counterparts that normal relations can’t continue if peace and tranquility are not maintained at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
When asked about the opposition’s allegation of PLA intrusion on Indian land, Jaishankar asked back the host and I wish to quote, he said, “Are these the same opponents who said let’s leave the borders undeveloped so that the Chinese cannot come,” adding that, “the fact that counter deployment has happened is not disputed by anybody until you are an opposition.”
Read More : EAM Jaishankar upholds Pakistan’s sovereignty, refuses to patronize it
He also attacked the previous decisions of the Indian establishment unilaterally deciding to give up areas, in 1950s and 1970s, decisions to demilitarise and not patrol, saying that nothing in this government is unilateral, the Chinese side has to comply with a mutual agreement. He also shed light in construction on border areas.
Jaishankar draws a parallel between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi
Recalling his posting as an ambassador to China in 2011, Dr. Jaishankar recalls Narendra Modi, then the Gujarat Chief Minister,’s visit to China. He says that Modi was the first chief minister to have ever asked for a briefing from him as the ambassador on foreign soil.
According to Jaishankar, he was very curious to ask Modi why he did so and the response was, ‘I am an opposition chief minister, I have come to China, and I don’t want to say anything that is one millimetre away from my national position.’ Jaishankar recalls that Modi had asked him to signal if he found himself deviating in any manner while speaking.
This was the response upon being asked about Rahul Gandhi’s recent remarks in the UK, saying that he feels bad as a citizen of India. Jaishankar alleged that Rahul Gandhi has downplayed India’s progress while drooling over China, saying that Gandhi speaks admirably of China.
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Jaishankar also attacked Rahul’s flying remarks on China’s Belt and Road Initiative reminding entire India that the same BRI goes through POK that is Pakistan Occupied Kashmir challenging India’s integrity and sovereignty, pointing out that Rahul Gandhi did not have a word to say on the same. What took the hall by storm was when Jaishankar said, “When Panda-huggers try to be China-hawk it doesn’t fly.”
Jaishankar spoke ferociously on a range of topics, ranging from QUAD to 1980’s economic disaster to the vision of Atma Nirbhar Bharat. Jaishankar reminded how India buckled in 2007 and did not have the guts to stand up to China, thus highlighting that QUAD was revived by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And ended with talking about the relationship with the neighbour in the West, saying that Pakistan has not agreed to give up cross-border terrorism, and until they demonstrate a way of giving it up, India may look at the possibilities. What does this signify? Simple, disengage at the borders if you want to have a relationship.
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