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S Jaishankar in Conversation with C Raja Mohan at RNG Lecture 2019

November 17, 2019

C Raja Mohan: You spoke, I mean you gave us a different way of thinking about India's role in a changing world. There are a lot of issues to take up with you and some arguments that are to be had, so let me cover some that we have, some broad areas, for example on the general orientation of Indian diplomacy at this stage, the question of non-alignment and great power relations, the neighborhood, extended neighborhood issues, multilateralism and then some specific new challenges that are emerging for Indian diplomacy. To start with, I mean you laid out a fabulous assessment of the India's situation today, India's condition if you like, one of the many changes you talked about is India's own position in the international system has changed. It has become a stronger nation, it's relative weight in the international system has grown but the challenges you face, for example you talked about a multipolar world, Rajkamal Jha talked about the fog. If you're trying to cross the sea and there is fog then the whole issue comes down to judgment and that means actually in the day-to-day conduct of your diplomacy, how do you translate this broad framework to break away from the old dogmas and deal with the world as it is at this point, given the uncertainties abroad and the advantages that you have as a stronger nation.

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: I think there are a number of factors and you can see them at play. I mean the first is to understand the world, and to understand the world it's important to understand the players, the key players. So if you have a foreign policy which is inactive in terms of engagements, you know, and really one of us, you know I just came from Serbia and I was honestly embarrassed to learn that I was the first foreign minister who had ever visited Serbia after it broke away from Yugoslavia.

And mind you that was not an exception, I mean I hear this story over and over again and it's just not at the Foreign Ministers level, it can go higher, it can go lower. So the first is, you know, to be visible, to be active, to engage, to be able to come in to, kind of, hear, smell, touch the world for yourself. If you don't do that your instincts are not going to be good, they're not going to be sound.

The second I think is an issue of you know confidence, and confidence grounded obviously on realism, but a large part, you know, the earlier phases when we speak about non-alignment and strategic autonomy, that was an era where we were, where our power position vis-à-vis the world, we were relatively defensive because you know the whole idea was don't get run over by the big guy. And if you've got something valuable make sure he doesn't take it away from you. I think today we move beyond that era. I mean we are able to step out, look at opportunities, look at the big negotiations, say this is in my interest, I get that outcome, not sort of, get into an abstention, ducking mode. So it's frankly at the end of the day it's a mindset issue.

C Raja Mohan: Can you convince your ministry because there's a general sense, look Indian foreign policy apparatus tends to be slow, hesitant, not easy to pull this vehicle, how do you change that?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Oh, I think frankly, now this is at the risk of offending a lot of people out there, look, the reality is Track One and India has always, not always at least in the recent past and I say this for the last 20 years, Track One in India has always been ahead of Track two. That if you look at the big opportunities of change, you know whatever has come our way, it is actually the officialdom which has sort of identified it, grasped it, exploited it and often got criticism from the press for doing all that.

So look, I think today as someone who spent 40 years in bureaucracy and seeing today the ministry you know, I mean part of me is, yes I'm a minister but I'm also a product of that ministry. I'm very-very confident about how the human resources and the mindset of diplomats is shaping up. And you know if look back at even the last few weeks and months, I mean when presented with any situation, you had this for example in New York when there was the Security Council Consultation on 370. You had our ambassadors speaking up and contesting what was said very confidently. So I think you have to realize that is changing. Now that may not make good press but that's the reality.

C Raja Mohan: So the second question I had in relation to diplomacy's. I mean on the one hand I think you have a historic opportunity to represent a very strong India, that from your own narrative just now, it's willing to confront problems that were left unattended for a long time, the question of terrorism in Pakistan or the question what happened in Doklam. On the one hand you have this ability to take very decisive steps and risk taking that you talked about, we've seen a lot of good things happen on the advance of the relationship with the US, the settling of the Bangladesh boundary dispute and we've seen the capacity of the government to do more things. But there is also the view that the government has taken too many risks, so how would you address that criticism that look too much of risk-taking has put you in a more difficult situation vis-a-vis 370 or how are you dealing with the Pakistan question today?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: No, look, I mean I addressed it partly in the example at least that you raised, I address partly in my remarks but let me address the generic proposition. You take any region today but in a lot of regions because today that overarching big power discipline has diluted. You have many more regional contradictions. Look at the Gulf for example, now if you are not prepared to take risks you'll end up actually doing nothing. And doing nothing is not going to win your friends. It's not going to improve your influence, so I think the issue for us, look at the Indian character okay. I mean I would rarely fault Indians for taking risks, I would mostly fault them for timidity you know. A Sehwag is a sort of exception, he is not the rule.

So my point is that today's world and your position today, you are today what, the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world. You have 34 million Indians and people of Indian origin outside, you have to defend your interests in a variety of ways. Now you can't sit at home and say somebody else will do that because that somebody is less and less visible today. So I think the state of the world itself is going to pull you out of the crease in many ways. And you know as regards the example you mentioned Article 370.

Look, I would caution you on two points. One, please differentiate between the reaction of governments and you know the chatter of media, social media, print media, there's a very big difference. The second is, to some extent you know, this is our, shall I say, debate within the country which often gets linked with other people's debates outside and what you often see are not policy assessments but frankly polemics, you know. So I would take polemics with more than a grain of salt.

C Raja Mohan: Now while you got a strong government you're in a position to do big things that were considered too risky in the past, but there is also seem to be a problem in the conduct of foreign policy and diplomacy at this stage, which is the narrative about India seems to be changing. There is the economic slowdown on the one hand, so much of the India's rise story was built on the fact that India was growing at a reasonable clip and the slowdown begins to create one set of problems. The other is the argument, look what's happening inside the country, whether it's in Kashmir or the NRC issue, is India losing its traditional sense of what you talked about India's brand, are we losing some of the brand in the in the current situation, so both on the economic front as a rising economy and on the internally how Indian democracy is perceived?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Look, you know, I would try to be objective about that and I mean one, I think just because you had two quarters of slower growth, I mean we've been through slower growth periods before. So I think, in fact where was it, this was the East Asia Summit okay, and I don't want to reveal confidential but essentially what I was hearing from people, institutions, which had studied our growth was that they seem to be fairly confident that you're going to see recovery, an improvement fairly soon. But so I think we shouldn't be that faint-hearted that two quarters of slowdown you suddenly start thinking that the world is coming to an end. I think we've been through that before.

Regarding what the other issues you mentioned, 370 or NRC, look again I'd be very frank with you, I think a lot of it is ideological debate within this country. I mean there is liberal fundamentalism at work but if you look at some of the media coverage that you see you can see that. I've actually seen really top-line publications actually suggesting that the NRC issue started with this government which actually shows you how strongly prejudice can override diligence. So you know when people omit facts of history, I mean even the 370, the point I keep making, I mean 370 was temporary but how many people say that. They don't say that not because they don't know that. They don't say that because it doesn't suit them to say that. So you know I'd put it this way. My reputation is not decided by a newspaper in New York.

C Raja Mohan: So you are confident that some of the opposition you hear from the liberal voices internationally is something through engagement that you can overcome, make the rest of the world see.

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Raj, You and I went through the nuclear test, did you get overwhelming approval from the rest of the world. So I would look if you do things with changes status quo, you had 70 years of problem in Kashmir okay. Now you have started a major policy of change which promises a very different future. Now while we are looking at it from the point of view of what it means to Kashmir development, integration etc. Remember from a very cold power politics, a lot of people are looking at the possibility that a vulnerability which has been exploited by world for 70 years may no longer be available for exploitation. Now obviously they're going to keep it alive to the extent they can. So I don't think it's that disinterested either.

C Raja Mohan: That brings me to the second set of issues I thought we could talk about which is really the great power relations you expanded on some length in your presentation. And much of the argument about non-alignment, strategic autonomy, a lot of it is really how we relate to the major powers in the international system. Now you posited that look, there is a multipolar world, we are stronger than before, so in engaging all these players you talked about simultaneously doing engagement with all the powers, many balls in the air, if you will, but at the operational level you see, for example with China, is it cooperation, is it competition, if the imbalance between China and India has grown dramatically. So what is the answer that you have to deal with this imbalance that is emerged because compared to the 90s when we are roughly equal, today Chinese GDP is almost 5 times bigger than ours.

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: I mean first of all this is not a remark restricted to China, I think a lot of our relationships are going to see both competition and cooperation because that is today the nature of the world. You know we are going to have competition from powers with whom we have very good relations and we're going to find common ground with powers with whom we may have differences. So the world is going to be shades of grey and how to play that again you know, you're not going to get clean neat lines and solutions.

I think the issue with China is particularly complex because as you say there's been a shift in the Power Balance, I think just as a useful reminder, I think the per capita incomes of the two countries were about the same, maybe we were a little ahead when Rajiv Gandhi visited China and see the difference today. I mean put that aside, I mean that's why I said we need a performance review of ourselves as well. But the fact is that you know in international relations people are not going to do you the favor of coming to your size or your capability. You will have to deal with countries smaller than you, you'll have to deal with people much bigger than you.

So a lot of that is going to call for diplomatic skills. Our challenge is this, you see vis-à-vis the world we have risen okay. I mean there's hardly anywhere in the world where you go and when they think of India today versus India 10 years ago, 20 years ago, they say you've grown much bigger. The challenge for us with China is in the same period because China has risen five times as faster. Our rise doesn't have the same resonance in China which it would have in any other part of the world.

Now I think some of that is changing, some of that is changing because even with a lesser rise if I play a defter hand, I can make myself felt which means again I have to see where international relations, the larger landscape gives me possibilities. That is why when I look at the last few years, I attach great importance, I mean not just me but I think the government as well, to those conversation format meetings that we've had at Chennai and at Wuhan because actually we are now engaging China on the state of the world. And the last time we did that I think was in the 1950s.

C Raja Mohan: The US, the transformation of the relationship with the US has been one of the significant achievements. I mean from 1991 and your government both the, where you served in the previous one as the Foreign Secretary, ended a lot of the hesitations that have been, what the Prime Minister himself called the historic hesitations, completing the nuclear deal, expanding security cooperation, working with them through Quad and various forms. But are we beginning to run into problems with the US as well with what we've seen in the last two years with the Trump Administration on trade issues, on a range of, in Afghanistan etc.

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: I think if we were to run into more challenges vis-a-vis the U.S. first of all we wouldn't be alone, I think most of the world would be in a similar situation. But I think frankly in our case that is vastly overstated. Let me tell you how I see the problem. I think actually in a whole range of areas we have today much stronger convergence and cooperation and it's interesting we have put hesitations of history behind us but people don't understand that the Trump administration has also done so. What I have seen with Trump in the last two or three years you know was not at all the traditional American system at work. You actually got big bold decisive steps in a range of areas.

So to me the possibilities of moving are there, but we have to appreciate two or three issues. One, when it comes to trade you have an administration with a fundamentally different view of trade and what trade means to national security you know. They define national security, as economic security and economic security as a trade surplus, so if that is the thinking then obviously there will be issues.

Now to me I don't have a problem with trade friction, the only way you won't have trade friction is if you don't trade with people you know. Normal countries, normal trading countries have trade frictions with everybody. The Americans have it with the Japanese, the Europeans have it with the Americans, the Americans have it with the Koreans, I mean that's the nature of trade. So I think in this country there's almost a sort of a desire to see a problem and to exaggerate it beyond belief as a way of saying, well see things are going badly. My sense is, yes we have trade issues in fact today our Commerce Minister is there, talking to US Trade Representative but I'm reasonably confident that has not prevented the rest of our relationship from moving.

But on Afghanistan we also have to understand one thing, the United States has been fighting there for 18 years and 18 years is a long time to fight a war. I mean show me the last time a country fought for 18 years, it's somewhere fairly deep in history. So for us to expect continuation of the American posture, I think that would be unrealistic in our reading of the United States or frankly of any other power.

C Raja Mohan: One of the things we've seen, you have just come back from Europe. I see there's much greater engagement with Europe and you mentioned that in your speech, but more broadly about the West as a whole I think when during your U.S. visit I mean you said India needs a new compact with the West. So this is very different, I think in the last 20 odd years we've been saying look West likes India, India likes West but what you said is look, the terms of engagement between India and the West must also change. So what did you mean by saying we need a new compact with the West?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Look, in many ways we have very strong convergences with the West you know, we are market economies, we are political democracies, we are pluralistic societies, a lot of our institutions are shaped by our interaction with the West in the past. So that's the common bit okay. And the fact is, the West has not treated us well in these last 70 years, I mean a lot of our problems also arose from the West especially our security problems. Now having said that what we have seen and maybe the last 15-20 years, I would say, suddenly after the nuclear test, has been diplomatic initiatives which have aimed at creating a new more positive basis for the relationship. But you know the West is the West, you know I mean they have two centuries of dominance so they have to accept that today life is not what it was. Life is not what it was 200 years ago for sure, but not even what it was 20 years ago that with the passage of time with every decade there is going to be the equation, the power balance between India and individual or collective Western countries will change. So their expectation that somewhere, I mean I see sometimes attempts at passing judgments and making very condescending comments. I mean, look that's for me history and they have got to understand that today we are in a different position, they are in a different position. Frankly we need each other for sure. I agree but we have to find that sort of way of making it work for both of us.

C Raja Mohan: One of the things you said during your U.S. visit, I mean is quite a new term, that India is a South-Western power or partly saying you're not giving up your equities in the Non-Align Movement.

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: And South came before the West.

C Raja Mohan: Yes, so what exactly did you mean by South Western Power?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: You know why I said it, I said it partly because I think I was at the Atlantic Council okay, and the Atlantic Council is a very Euro-Atlantic organization pushing the Western agenda. Now often the question you get asked is you know, are your Western power, are you an Eastern power because they think of their bipolarity as the only criteria which there is in the world to differentiate countries. Now the fact is there may be an East-West criteria, there's a North-South criteria as well and when you look today at the big international negotiations, I think you realize whether it is trade, whether its climate change, whether sometimes it's just sheer politics that a lot of countries of the South actually look to India. They look to India because all said and done we were the first of the decolonized nations, we were politically active, there's a whole history out there and a continuous history over odd years. And I think today that's a very powerful constituency we have and you know whether we go up in the world, it's important we nurture that constituency because I think when I look at India as a potentially global, when I say leave one aspiration to be a leading power, if I were to, for example, have a stronger relationship with Africa, I would like to cultivate the southern constituency, I would like to be responsive to their needs. I would not like to replace the northern powers. I would like to be a partner rather than a substitute of an earlier arrangement and I think if you look today, I made that statement about winning international elections. Think back to two years, ago we actually defeated a P5 country in a UN election which was not a small thing and why did it happen because the countries of the South felt very strongly for you. So now I'm putting it beyond election, I'm citing data as an example but I think it's important. If you look today at our Africa initiative in the last four years we have trained 40,000 people, we have a soft loan commitment of $10 billion which, I mean we have met about 70% of it. We have a grant commitment of maybe $700 million. Now you go to Africa, I mean when I went to the UNGA, when I met African leaders at other forums including the Paris peace forum, I think our image has changed there and the fact that we are today opening our embassies there, you know all the new 18 embassies are all opening in Africa. That is also a statement.

C Raja Mohan: So you're going to follow up with something on Latin America as well as you see your Republic Day won't have Brazilian President.

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: I don't speculate about visits or republic days. But yes I think, I mean the next five years certainly I see a lot of room for much more to be done Latin America and Caribbean.

C Raja Mohan: Coming to the neighborhood, the third set of issues, now Pakistan, yes you're trying to confront the problem of terrorism but there is a deeper question that look there is the bitter legacy of partition and we have to live with Pakistan whatever you say and you also need to distinguish between Pakistani state and its people. So is there something beyond the question of terrorism that how we think about reworking this in a structural way beyond the problems with the Pakistani state that you have?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Look, the fact is every government and every Prime Minister, and probably every foreign minister, has grappled with the Pakistan problem since the beginning, okay. Everybody has tried to find a way forward. I mean even today the conundrum is not fundamentally different and the fact is when you look at it, this government, this Prime Minister has probably done much bolder things even in trying to find a way forward. I mean his visit to Lahore, for example, was extraordinarily risky, both, I mean it was politically risky but even more than that it was physically risky but he did it. So the point is that it's not that, who doesn't want a good neighbor but at the end of the day the more you run away from the reality that this neighbor has built an industry of terror to pressurize you, there's no point living in denial because if you live in denial he will only increase it. He thinks that it then got normalized. So I think holding their feet to the fire on this issue is very important because without that you're not going to get change. Look at the last few years for example today the pressures which FATF has put it's actually telling. So it won't happen overnight but I think the fact that it has not happened or they still use it as prolifically as they do, should not let, this is an issue where we have no choice but to do what we are doing. Because if we do anything else we are failing our country.

C Raja Mohan: On general neighborhood issue, there's been a strong criticism that look we've really losing the narrative in the neighborhood.

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Really.

C Raja Mohan: I mean in the last two years when people have said look it's never been, you know, India has been friendless in the neighborhood.

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: You're reading the wrong newspaper.

C Raja Mohan: Certainly, I also write in one of them but the thing is you don't buy that or you how do you answer the question that look we're not doing well enough in the neighborhood?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: First of all I don't think that's true okay. I'll tell you why, look back at the last few years okay. I mean we've just had an election this year in Bangladesh, we were not an issue. We have an election underway in Sri Lanka, we are not an issue. There was an election last year in Maldives, even the incumbent who had issues with us kept saying no, no, but I want an India first foreign policy. Look you have a maybe very complicated power arrangement in Myanmar but all the parties in a sense are okay with us. So I think this idea that somewhere we are failing in the neighborhood is not true and this is one assertion of it, let me give you another.

If you look today actually at the investments we are making in the neighborhood, it has changed the economy or it is changing the economy of the neighborhood. And the most, the sharpest sign of change you would see is in Bangladesh. But it's happening to differing degrees in in different places. I mean we've just for example inaugurated a pipeline in Nepal, we are working on some important railway projects in Nepal which will be coming on stream very-very quickly. With Sri Lanka again we've been probably the largest Development Assistance partner and we have done both infrastructure restoration and post-conflict rehabilitation.

So the point I'm making is people actually see you today put your money where your mouth is. They actually see that you got that right mix of working with the dispensation and power. Now there are some from realities okay I mean since we all have a shared history and to some degree a shared sociology, there will be, from time to time, identity assertions. Now we have to take that in our stride. So I don't expect constant ringing praises of India but I think the sense that somewhere something is going wrong, I would just plain disagree with you.

C Raja Mohan: One question though, I think on whether it is neighborhood, in South Asia or more broadly the Indian Ocean, delivery on projects, delivery on commitments that we make. Is there a need for some structural change in the way we deliver project implementation in the in the neighborhood?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: That is actually, look first of all bear two cautions in mind. What you do abroad cannot be that different from what you do in the country okay, that's my first caution. The second is that this was a new area for us okay. I mean when we first began some of these projects, frankly we were kind of winging our way. I'm talking maybe 15 years ago. So we've also hard lessons learnt on it but today I can tell you that actually our delivery on projects is phenomenal. I mean next time we go to Mauritius ask them how quickly we built that metro or you look today at Afghanistan. I mean under the most challenging conditions, conditions which European countries were not willing to work but we built a dam, it was the first dam anybody built in 70 years in that country. We brought power to Kabul, we built the Parliament building, we built across that Zarin dallara road. And again I would say in the latest one we did in Nepal, we were actually ahead of schedule which was the Amlekhganj POL pipeline.

So I mean I grant you there is scope for improvement but i would also caution you working abroad and working as per rules we can't do things with some competitors can do but keeping all that in mind I would actually, with a fairly clear conscience, defend our record but concede that there is room for improvement and by the way one of the changes we've done is also to get technical people into the foreign ministry so that that whole project conceptualization is very much better.

C Raja Mohan: We're running against time but I just have two last questions. I mean one is many countries are looking to India to do more on security. I think you talked about HADR, humanitarian assistance, first responder to disasters etc. but here in the Gulf where your relationship has transformed but the Gulf countries are also in your recent visits, both UAE as well as Saudi Arabia, both of them are saying what role is Indian to play in the security of the region. So are you prepared to shed the traditional inhibition to do more because Trump himself has called for an international coalition for protecting sea lines. Given your high stakes, given the eagerness of some to have you do more for security, are we ready to respond or are we still risk-averse when it comes to doing security in the neighborhood?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Look, I would be careful in this domain and here I speak with the experience of someone who spent two years with the IPKF and this is me personally I'm not speaking government policy. I learned the hard way the dangers of having boots on the ground abroad and my personal inclination is to be conservative in that regard. I would like to think through all the risks etc. Having said that I do recognize it is a changing world and that we are moving into an era where the assumption that other people, the environment will take care of itself or somebody else will take care of it, will be challenged. Having said that now let me give you a few examples I don't know how many people know this. We are deployed in the Gulf, the Navy has been deployed since there were problems on tankers being attacked. So it's not that we haven't responded where we've had to but often people are kind of fanciful about it. They talk as though deployments very easy, that actually other countries want to. Countries are also very careful what they ask so in real life foreign deployments are less common than you would imagine.

C Raja Mohan: Moving to the multilateralism issue. On climate change you've seen India move break away from the traditional position, no it's not my problem somebody else did it let them solve to one where you actually said look we're going to be part of the solution. So there is a seemingly more positive attitude to multilateralism. You recently participated in the Alliance for Multilateralism, Germany and France have taken the initiative, but at the same time you see India still at discomfort on global trade negotiations, on other multilateral arrangements that come, so happy finally cross the hump on being actively engaged in multilateral institutions?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: You know I think I would hesitate to put multilateral per se as a good or bad adjective, meaning do I buy into it or not. Because if you look at the examples that you have cited. Yes in Paris we took a, I would say, very important role because we finally came to the conclusion that probably that was the most pragmatic way forward and there'd be some progress in that way of working as opposed to what had been attempted but did not succeed earlier largely because of the lack of commitment of the Northern countries. And it's interesting since you mention it, when going to the UN this time I saw in this Climate Action Tracker that we are one of the few countries who actually kept to our nationally determined contributions made in Paris, a whole lot of countries including in Europe have not.

Why would I be pro-multilateral, yes I'll be pro-multilateral because at the end of the day the world is better governed by rules and we are all said and done we are a rule abiding Society at home and generally people behave outside like they behave at home. So I would make a case for having rules however imperfect are better than not having rules.

I think today it is an important point of commonality with Europe. One of the reasons we took a positive view on the Alliance for Multilateralism, which for those of you who don't know, is a Franco-German led initiative was a sense that multilateralism moves across the board were under pressure. But having said that when we are being reticent on multilateral trading negotiation maybe you're partly right, but you also please understand, often the trading negotiations are fashioned in a way in which they advance the interests of a particular set of countries. So I'm not going to enthusiastically embrace a negotiation of which I'm the target.

So a lot of it today is also the ability, I mean it's interesting, actually in real life we have not always stood up where we should have stood up. And again I come back to RCEP, at the end of the day in RCEP we have to take that call. I mean are we getting enough for us to buy into RCEP or are we not. And frankly the downside it was so much bigger than the upside, we took that call.

C Raja Mohan: So the corollary to that is are we ready to do the reforms that we need to make our industry more competitive, so that takes you back to what we do at home as central to how we deal with the world?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Look, absolutely, I mean there's no question, I mean diplomacy is not conducted in a vacuum. It is finally built on economy, on a polity, on your national strength, no question about that.

C Raja Mohan: The final question and I think on some of the new issues that are emerging, for example the Chinese talk about a law enforcement diplomacy, there is much talk about military diplomacy where the traditional instruments of defense and diplomacy have combined. Is India prepared to, or technology diplomacy where I mean you yourself have been involved in the nuclear stuff, what are the kind of internal change do you need to do to cope with, for example, on the digital side, on the security side, on the law enforcement? One of the key ingredients I would think better coordination with the Home Ministry, better coordination with Defense Ministry, the tech ministries, is there thinking to revamp rearrange so that the new global issues that we can deal with them in a more effective way?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Short answer, yes. Long answer, I would say if I were to identify a single challenge of policy making, it is the need for better integration horizontally and it's not unique to India, it's the history of the world. We probably need it more than other people because we are in a particular sort of cusp of change where that is required. And I see that today in variety of ways and often the solutions are actually are our own time-tested institutions. I mean it is not that the integration mechanisms are absent in our system, it's just that for a variety of reasons people didn't use it. But I can say, I mean right now I could say that earlier bureaucratically, today I can say that politically, I think today the dispensation has a very tight element of integration, it is very much a group thing. I mean people don't say for example something like say RCEP, none of us were involved in that discussion. So there's a conscious attempt not to address the big challenges of the day in silos departmentally and I think again that's one of those infinite things, there's always room for improvement.

C Raja Mohan: So in the end, I mean would you agree with the view that look reform-reform-reform is the answer to India's -external challenges because if you don't change yourself within your ability to cope with a very rapidly changing world is going to be tested.

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: I think that was a thrust of my talk.

C Raja Mohan: Reform-reform-reform. Please join me in thanking the Minister.

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