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  India   All India  19 Dec 2023  In diplomacy, we must look back at the roads not taken: Jaishankar

In diplomacy, we must look back at the roads not taken: Jaishankar

AGE CORRESPONDENT
Published : Dec 19, 2023, 7:55 pm IST
Updated : Dec 19, 2023, 7:58 pm IST

I have designed an integrated framework for understanding and assessment of India's actions in the international arena: Author

S. Jaishankar, external affairs minister, said at the launch of the book India’s Moment: Changing Power Equations around the World by former Indian diplomat Mohan Kumar, dean of strategic and international initiatives at O.P. Jindal Global University and published by Harper Collins. (Image: AA)
 S. Jaishankar, external affairs minister, said at the launch of the book India’s Moment: Changing Power Equations around the World by former Indian diplomat Mohan Kumar, dean of strategic and international initiatives at O.P. Jindal Global University and published by Harper Collins. (Image: AA)

New Delhi: “After 75 years of Independence it is important to introspect more about foreign policy, because often we tend to think that the decisions which were taken were the only decisions that could have been taken, which may not be entirely true so I think this exercise of the roads not taken, then they need not be hypothetical.  I think, it’s important to look back, keep refreshing, correcting ourselves… To get foreign policy right it's important to look back, keep looking back, keep refreshing and keep correcting ourselves,” S. Jaishankar, external affairs minister, said at the launch of the book India’s Moment: Changing Power Equations around the World by former Indian diplomat Mohan Kumar, dean of strategic and international initiatives at O.P. Jindal Global University and published by Harper Collins.

 “In the context of foreign policy we’re all negotiators. Certainly when it comes to diplomacy. Today as we are looking at technology issues or security issues, or debating strategic autonomy there are the six factors that Dr Mohan Kumar has referred to as the integrated framework in his book and the six factors, the first of which he calls the Gandhi litmus test, the poverty veto. The second is a policy space and the others include domestic politics, geopolitical imperatives, multilateralism and finally material gain because at the end it is for common good. As India approaches a $3 trillion economy, given the range of our interests, the extent of our development, perhaps we could consider two other factors as well in making decisions. One is really comprehensive national power because it's not always what you are defending. It is also what you are acquiring. And in WTO terminology offensive interest is also something which we will need to factor and the second is that as we grew, it is particularly in the economic domain, I think becoming more and more important to insist as part of any understanding how much of it will lead to it being made in India and employed in India. If I were to look ahead at the ‘Amrit Kaal’ and the journey towards Viksit Bharat I would certainly argue today that if I were to make a judgement, I would certainly look at decisions that would add or subtract from comprehensive national power and in ways it really contributes to creating deep strengths within India,” the minister elaborated.

“India alone will be among the big economies with a low carbon pathway. I think this is an observation which is really worth reflecting on because what it means is that India's development pathway would actually be very unique. India gives food support to 800 million people, financial support to 400 million people, built houses for 150 million people – and all of this has been achieved in the last decade. Today, more than a third of our country gets health access and pensions. This is something very interesting emerging in India which is a low-income country, yet actually using the efficiency of its digital infrastructure to create a social safety net, which normally we would actually attribute to a middle income country.”

Reflecting on the book, the author, Prof Mohan Kumar, said: “I have designed an integrated framework for understanding and assessment of  India's actions in the international arena. This framework comprises first and foremost the Gandhi Litmus Test, or what I have termed as the poverty veto. There are a huge number of people living in poverty in India and this has an impact on how India conducts international negotiations. Similarly, realpolitik and domestic politics also play a part. India is well on its way to become a leading power but in order to achieve that, the most important prerequisite is to reduce the number of people living in poverty and make growth inclusive. The important conclusion is that India must become a $10 trillion economy with inclusive growth. It will then be India's moment -- to transition from a balancing power to a leading power in the world.”

Tags: economy, digital infrastructure, financial support, external affairs minister (eam) s. jaishankar, harpercollins, indian diplomat
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi