When S Jaishankar was asked about his assertive stance on India’s foreign policy; here’s what he said

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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday interacted with Indian community in Cairo. The EAM is currently on a two-day official trip to Egypt for his first bilateral visit.

During an interaction with the Indian community, Jaishankar was asked about his assertive stance and presenting a strong image of the country’s foreign policy position on global platforms. 

“I don’t think I am being assertive,” Jaishankar replied.

He further explained that sometimes you end up in situation where you are pressurized to express views with a certain degree of forcefulness

“What often happens, to be very honest with you, is you end up in situations where others try to pressurize you or push you, in a sense, leaving you with no choice but to express your view with a certain degree of forcefulness. I still believe that at the end of the day it’s important to explain yourself…at times there is a lack of fairness in which your position is portrayed. I don’t think we should let that pass. We are not doing justice to ourselves if we do that,” the minister said.

“So I know sometimes it ends up in a certain way. That’s really not me. It’s the context you can say. But as a country, it is important for us to be clear in the projection of our interests, to be articulate and explaining why we are taking the position what we are doing,” he said.

The Minister, unlike his recent predecessors is well known for his straightforward and unambiguous comments, often free from diplomatic sugarcoat.

Earlier during his visit to Australia, Jaishankar gave a blunt response to the question on whether India should reconsider its relationship with Russia in light of the situation in Ukraine and lessen its reliance on Russian weaponry. He said, “We have a substantial inventory of Soviet and Russian-origin weapons. And that inventory actually grew for a variety of reasons. You know, the merits of the weapons systems themselves, but also because for multiple decades, Western countries did not supply weapons to India, and in fact, saw a military dictatorship next to us as the preferred partner.”

Earlier in June, Jaishankar had slammed Europe for its constant criticism of India for purchasing Russian oil even as he questioned the US’ decision to not lift the sanctions on Iranian and Venezuelan oil. Europe has to grow out of the mindset that “its problems are the world’s problems,” he had said. 

Jaishankar had also said that, “India is on the side of peace, and will remain firmly there. We are on the side that respects the UN Charter and its founding principles.”

In September, PM Modi had told Russian President Vladimir Putin that this is not the right time for war with Ukraine. The United States media heaped praises on PM Modi over this statement to Putin. The conversation between both leaders was widely carried out by the mainstream American media. 

During his interaction in Egypt, Jaishankar also reiterated the importance of independent-minded countries speaking their mind as the world is getting very polarized.

“Necessary for independent-minded countries to speak their mind as the world is getting very polarized… Richer countries not fully grasping how poorer countries are being hurt by what’s happening in the world. It’s a very stressful, unhappy world today. Countries struggling,” said Jaishankar.

Jaishankar further stated that the relationship between India and Egypt is good. “The possibilities are greater, there is enthusiasm in India to explore it. Tomorrow I will meet the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and reiterate the strong personal commitment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to growing this relationship,” he said.

Talking about trade relations, he said, “One of the interesting development in our trade relations is that Egypt has started importing wheat from India. The good thing about Egypt is that the trade has been reasonably balanced from both sides.”

Speaking about the Covid pandemic, Jaishankar shared the success story of India – lessons learnt from covid, bringing back Indians during the time of the pandemic and how India became the pharmacy of the world.

“We are carrying on extrapolating our lessons during covid… health system moving to cover 100s of millions of people, programs for home ownership- almost 25 million houses given in the past few years. It’s a society where remarkable changes are happening on the ground,” said EAM in Egypt.

“We made an unprecedented effort to bring back Indians home during covid. This is an India today, capable of doing big things. It has proven that it can rise to challenges,” added Jaishankar.

Talking about India’s reputation as the pharmacy of the world, he said that people would be surprised at the number of foreigners visiting India for medical purposes.

“Our reputation as the pharmacy of the world has grown. We are a health hub for many countries. People would be surprised at the number of foreigners visiting India for medical purposes, not just in our immediate neighbourhood but Gulf, east-Africa, and central Asia… I now see the prospect of Indian hospitals going out of India,” said EAM in Egypt.

Source : Mint