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China prepared for what they wanted to become, India should start: Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar addresses during an event in New Delhi on Monday (Photo: ANI)Premium
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar addresses during an event in New Delhi on Monday (Photo: ANI)

  • The major problem between the Indians and the Chinese is when the latter looks at a problem they start thinking 'how do I solve the problem', says Jaishankar
  • Citizenship issue or Article 370 or Ayodhya — we have let problems accumulate over a period of time, says the Foreign Minister

New Delhi: A “big" lesson India can learn from China is to imbibe its problem solving mindset as India evolves from a civilisational society into a modern nation state like its giant northern neighbour, Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar said on Monday.

“To my mind the big learning out of China is that unless a society has the mindset to decisively address its current issues you are not going to go up in the world," Jaishankar said at the launch of a book “Pax Sinica," in New Delhi. “The more that the Indian and Chinese systems deal with each other I think a lot of Indians will pick that up," he said.

Pointing to the steps taken by the Narendra Modi-led government since coming back to power in the April-May elections, Jaishankar said that measures like the Citizenship Amendment Act, the revocation of Article 370 or the settlement of the Ayodhya issue were aimed at solving problems that were left unsolved for the past 50, 70 and 150 years respectively.

“The Chinese, in a sense, look at a problem and start thinking how do I solve the problem. That is a sort of systemic mindset. Those who solve it quickly efficiently are rewarded," he said adding the whole system in China was a problem solving system similar to the ones in the US and Russia.

"In India’s case, We look at a problem and we say the problem is a problem, I wish it would go away. Our instinct is not to home in on a solution, our instinct is to kick it down the road," he said. “To me the concern I have is years of doing this today we have accumulated a legacy of problems," he said adding that the Modi government had taken steps to address these issues.

“I do think we need to look at China’s story systemically... this China is affecting the world, it will impact it more and more. So it is important for us to understand the thinking of that China and because today you have a strong leader in China (Chinese president Xi Jinping) there is a leader to leader understanding of each other’s thinking," Jaishankar said referring to the informal summits between the two leaders in Wuhan in 2018 and in Mamallapuram last year. “That doesn’t mean that every time they meet problems will be solved but the meetings have immense value because if two powers are rising differentially but in close proximity, it very important that they have a leader level communication, of understanding of aspirations," he said.

Jaishankar further said: “You don’t get to be a big league power by evolution and accident. It takes leadership, preparation and diligence." India too should develop narratives like China, one example of which is to put out core interests very clearly. One example of this is putting out clearly India’s territorial issues. “It's a core interest. It has to be made very clear that if there are situations of violation of territorial integrity we can’t let it pass saying it is business as usual and I will trade it for economic benefits," the minister said.

On terrorism too, given that India has suffered numerous attacks, Jaishankar said “we should never ever allow terrorism to be normalised". “When we don’t have strategic clarity we have allowed victim and perpetrator to come on the same plane," Jaishankar said giving the example of a joint statement with Pakistan issued in 2009 by the then Congress-led government when India had conceded that Pakistan too was a victim of terrorism.

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