New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday asserted that India has taken the “right course” on the Ukraine conflict, noting that it is a very complex matter where the most urgent issue is to prevent hostilities from escalating.
Addressing an event here, the minister pointed out that historical and strategic interests are at stake and India has to protect the interests of its people in the wake of fuel and food shortages arising out of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Jaishankar also said India is paying a lot of attention to South Asia and the neighbouring countries are looking up to it to take lead in the integration of the region.
Noting that India had come forward to help Sri Lanka cope with its economic crisis, he said India is now perceived as a lifting tide which can lift the entire neighbourhood .
The minister was speaking at a discussion on the book Modi@20: Dreams Meet Delivery’ at the Delhi University.
Likening India’s strategy in the Ukraine war to that of Lord Krishna in Mahabharata, the minister said that Krishna does everything in his power to prevent the war and that is New Delhi’s position also.
“What we are doing in the case of Ukraine is the right course. It is a very complex issue and the most urgent issue is to prevent hostilities from escalating to a level it only does harm.
“In that sense, there is Krishna’s choice to do everything to prevent the war. He was actually the emissary who says ‘find some way of working it out, return to dialogue and diplomacy’ which is our Ukraine position also,” said Jaishankar.
Noting that ‘arger issues are flowing out of Ukraine, Jaishankar stated that New Delhi has to manage its own interests.
“On the complexities and what is happening there (Ukraine), I think there are other aspects of Krishna’s choice there because we have interests at stake there.
“‘We have historical interest, we have a strategic interest, we have current interests and we have to manage those interests,” he said.
“There is also a large issue today flowing out of the Ukraine conflict. It is an issue of fuel shortage, food shortage, an issue of fertilizer shortage… As someone responsible for the welfare of my people, I have to do what I have to do to ensure their best interest,” he added.
On the controversy erupting from remarks on Prophet Mohammed by two former BJP spokespersons, Jaishankar said the prime minister has paid a lot of attention to changing India’s image and to engagement and relationship with the countries in the Gulf, and many countries have accepted India’s reasoning.
When we asserted that what was said did not reflect the views of the party…and many of [the countries] took it up with ambassadors [and] the ambassadors pointed that out, I think they accepted that, he said.
On South Asia, Jaishankar said India is the biggest economy and polity and shares borders with many countries.
“We are most connected in this way. So surely our economic weight is more,” he said.
“I believe and this is PM Modi’s conviction very strongly. The initiative and responsibility of actually creating a region in South Asia rest a lot with us.
“If we take the initiative and if we will push, it will happen, or if we won’t do, it won’t happen. We need the others, even their expectation, they look up to us, they want India to make a move,” he added.
As part of efforts to overcome the damage done by Partition, India is focused on building up connectivity through roads, bridges, tunnels, waterways and energy links, he said.
Jaishankar was the chief guest at a special discussion organised by the DU on the book.
Speaking about the book, Jaishankar noted that a large part of the book has been written by people outside the government.
“Books are written about prime ministers. That is not unusual…. But to have a book where sitting foreign minister and Home Minister (Amit Shah), National Security Advisor (Ajit Doval) have written about the sitting prime minister, that is unusual, he asserted.
Vice-Chancellor Yogesh Singh lauded the prime minister, saying India is lucky to have a leader who commits less and delivers more.
Published by Rupa Publications India, Modi@20: Dreams Meet Delivery’ has contributions from Sudha Murty, Sadhguru, Nandan Nilekani and Amish Tripathi, among others.
“This book, a compilation of chapters authored by eminent intellectuals and domain experts, attempts a definitive and expansive exploration into the fundamental transformation of Gujarat and India over the last twenty years due to Modi’s unique model of governance,” reads the blurb.