Home/ News / India/  ‘India needs to get its act together in a volatile world’


External affairs minister S. Jaishankar on Thursday said it will be “premature" to speak of India acting as a facilitator to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine, and that countries impacted by the war can only hope to nudge the main players in a positive direction.

Jaishankar also cautioned that India will have to get its act together to cope with an “uncertain, unpredictable, volatile, turbulent" world and a decade with a “far more fluid international situation"—including “frictions and possibly worse".

Though some underlying issues in the military standoff with China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) have been worked out, Jaishankar reiterated that the overall bilateral relationship cannot be normalized till there is peace and tranquillity in the border areas, observance of agreements and “no unilateral attempt...to change status quo".

Against the backdrop of increased speculation about a possible role for India in mediating between Russia and Ukraine, Jaishankar responded to a question on the issue by describing it as “premature".

“In a way, we are not looking, we cannot approach today’s problems with models or experiences—this is a very, very different situation in which we are in today," he said in a conversation with HT’s editor-in-chief R. Sukumar at the 20th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.

The speculation mounted ahead of Jaishankar’s 7-8 November visit to Russia when he met his counterpart Sergey Lavrov and other Russian leaders for discussions on expanding economic ties, including energy supplies.

Countries that believe this is “not an era of war", as was pointed out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a bilateral meeting in Uzbekistan in September, that issues cannot be settled on the battlefield and that there is a need to get back to the negotiating table, can “articulate their concerns and try to shape the thinking of those more directly involved in a positive direction", Jaishankar said.

“I think beyond that, to suggest anything else, I don’t think is justified at this point of time," he added.

Jaishankar said the global order and globalization model have been “more and more challenged" since the international financial crisis of 2008, and the covid-19 pandemic “brought out into the open a lot of the problems which till then had been kept firmly under the carpet". Supply chains were very fragile, production was overly concentrated and people were dependent on limited geographies, he said.

The Ukraine conflict added to stress factors and “fragility can be enhanced by terrorist actions" or even the climate crisis. “Overall, I would say [in the] short to medium term, I would be looking at a very unsettled world, at a lot of turbulence and volatility. I think this is a time when we frankly need leadership, experience, ability to guide this nation in rough seas. Believe me, the rough seas—you can already feel the waves," he said.

India needs to “get our act together" for an “uncertain, unpredictable, volatile, turbulent" world is going to be, he cautioned. “And a large part of getting our act together is doing the right things at home, building up the strengths at home, doing the governance, the delivery, the creation of capabilities and assets. "

Responding to a question on the standoff with China that began in May 2020, Jaishankar said that “unless there is peace and tranquillity in the border areas, unless there is observance of agreements and no unilateral attempt made to change status quo, the relationship cannot be normal and is not normal".

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Updated: 11 Nov 2022, 12:45 AM IST
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