Indian diplomacy has come of age, with its voice being heard at international forums and global high tables like the G7 and the G20, and New Delhi’s appetite to shape global agenda is much more pronounced than before, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar said on Tuesday.
“If you look at the big debates in multilateral fora G20 and BRICS, you will see that the Indian voice, the Indian views are today heard much more clearly," Jaishankar said at a press conference on the Narendra Modi government completing 100 days in office in its second term.
“The world is moving towards growing multipolarity and growing multipolarity means multiple narratives—that India needs to be seen, India needs to be heard, India in a sense has to be contributing in it and India’s personality on the international stage has to express itself," through events like the International Day of Yoga in the first term of the Modi government and the celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in the current term, Jaishankar said. In addition, India, like any other country, would like to put out “our narrative, our specific interests."
In his press conference lasting more than an hour, the minister responded to queries ranging from India’s ties to big powers such as the US and China to relations with Pakistan.
On ties with the US, Jaishankar said he was optimistic on the way it is progressing. He described relations with the US as “a glass that was 90% full" when asked about the irritants in ties like trade and US President Donald Trump’s often-seemingly erratic behaviour.
“As any relationship grows, there will be problems ... the only way you don’t have trade problems is when you do not trade," he said referring to the trade ties with the US.
“India-US relations have come a long way. If you look today at the quality of the relationship, look at the amount of trade, look at the political comfort, look at the security cooperation, look at the movement of people," he said, adding: “There is no facet of the relationship today which hasn’t gone upwards really in the last 20 years and it has gone through repeated changes of administration... trajectory has always been upwards... the relationship is in good health."
The comments come ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s six-day visit to the US beginning Saturday, where he is to address an Indian-American community event with Trump. Modi’s attendence at the event in Houston will be his third address to the Indian community in the US since taking office in May 2014. That Trump has chosen to attend an Indian-American community event, Jaishankar said, should be seen as a great achievement of the community.
“Finally, communities, countries develop a reputation," he said when asked about the message that Trump’s attendance at the Houston event would send to Pakistan.
The minister recalled a comment made by Modi previously in which he said both India and Pakistan had a reputation for IT but IT in the context of India means “information technology" and in the context of Pakistan it stands for “international terrorism." “So today my sense is it’s not just Pakistan, I think it is the whole world that will be watching the Houston event and take lessons from there about what Indian Americans have achieved," Jaishankar said.