The emerging ‘new India’
Can you recall if a developing country ever dared rebuff the erstwhile most powerful America on its own turf? However, times have changed in 2022 and so is the case with the emerging new India. Fortunate for India to stand her ground firmly and that too on the U.S. soil as defiant and direct as possible with utmost diplomacy.
India’s Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar, a seasoned diplomat, minced no words when he responded to the alleged human rights violations issue, the pressure not to purchase oil from Russia, and the threat of CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) against India for purchasing the Russian S-400 missile defence system. The defining moment for India’s high level of defiant diplomacy came during the recent 2+2 ministerial meeting held in Washington.
The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said that the US is monitoring some recent “concerning developments in India, including a rise in human rights abuses by some government, police, and prison officials.” Jaishankar forthrightly retorted that while the human rights issue was not a topic of discussion in the 2+2 meeting but he is open to speaking about it.
He went on to clarify the matter as follows.
“Look, people are entitled to have views about us. But we are also equally entitled to have views about their views and about the interests, and the lobbies and the vote banks which drive that. So, whenever there is a discussion, I can tell you that we will not be reticent about speaking out,” Jaishankar said.
“I would tell you that we also take our views on other people’s human rights situation, including that of the United States. So, we take up human rights issues when they arise in this country, especially when they pertain to our community.” In fact, Jaishankar was making reference to a recent incident of assault in which two Sikh men were attacked and robbed in a New York neighborhood.
It is no secret that the U.S. has been pressing India repeatedly to use her leverage with Putin to end the war with Ukraine. The United States has sought India to openly condemn and apply economic pressure on Russia. The most recent attempt was a video conference between the leaders of the world’s oldest and largest democracies. President Biden and Prime Minister Modi had about an hour-long conversation while the 2+2 ministerial meeting was underway.
Reportedly, Biden did not ask directly to stop buying oil from Russia but he told Modi, “India’s position in the world would not be enhanced by relying on Russian energy sources.” Modi, the great statesman, diplomat, and strategist bypassed the energy issue for others like Jaishankar to address. Modi objectively stated, “Recently, the news of the killings of innocent civilians in the city of Bucha was very worrying,” He went on to add, “We immediately condemned it and have asked for an independent probe.”
Clearly, Modi was determined and unwilling to damage the longstanding India-Russia ties. In fact, Blinken himself recognized that India’s ties with Russia developed over decades at a time when the United States was not able to be a partner to India, but that times had since changed. “Today we are able and willing to be a partner of choice with India across virtually every realm,” Blinken said at a joint press briefing.
When the issue of oil purchase from Russia was raised during the press conference by a reporter, somewhat irked but calm Jaishankar first thanked reporters sarcastically for “advice” as part of their questions. More substantively, he countered, “Looking at the figures, probably our total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon. So, you might want to think about that.” In my view, nothing could be more deafening and defining diplomacy by India’s career diplomat on the world stage.
With respect to the US threatening India with sanctions under CAATSA for purchasing the Russian missile defence system, Jaishankar said that the CAATSA is a US law and it’s for the American administration to decide on it.
In a straightforward rebuttal, he said “It is their legislation and whatever has to be done has to be done by them,” indicating that New Delhi doesn’t really worry about the sanctions.
CAATSA is a US federal law that was passed by the Senate in July 2017. It allowed America to clamp sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
Clearly, diplomacy is all about putting one’s best foot forward in words, arguments, and actions even while agreeing to disagree without emotions like distress, anger, and annoyance. Undoubtedly, both Secretary Blinken and Minister Jaishankar have mastered diplomacy but the latter was better at it because he was put on the defensive in the press conference hosted by the U.S. For example, the human rights issue was not an anticipated topic for discussion but Blinken brought it up anyway. Was the U.S. trying to show its muscle? If yes, it failed miserably and notably.
In that spirit, Jaishankar’s diplomacy was clearly very deliberate, defiant when necessary, and direct even under the scanner of the global media. He minced no words, chose to say what he meant, stayed calm and composed, and yet made NEW India stand tall in outlining its foreign policy on the world stage. It was a proud moment for Indians anywhere, particularly, those calling the U.S. their adopted home.
While Jaishankar was not a chosen politician back then but his highest order diplomacy truly depicted what Modi once iterated, “Na hum aankh jhuka kar baat karenge, na aankh dikhaa kar baat karenge. Hum duniya se aankh mila kar baat karenge.”
Na hum aankh jhuka kar baat karenge, na aankh dikhaa kar baat karenge. Hum duniya se aankh mila kar baat karenge: PM pic.twitter.com/lgprXo4h3M
— ANI (@ANI) November 24, 2015
The emerging NEW India, an undisputed land of majority Hindus (~80%) with rightful place for the remaining 20%, deserves to regain what it, unfortunately, lost during many centuries of Mughal rulers and the British empire. India and its argumentative Indians will always be among equals with any other sovereign country.
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2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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