Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Good morning to all of you. Thank you very much for joining us for the special briefing on nine years of Modi Government. We have the privilege of having with us Honorable External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar to do the briefing on this occasion and take your questions. I'd also like to thank the presence of Honorable Ministers of State, Shri V. Muraleedharan, Shrimati Meenakashi Lekhi, and Shri R. R. Singh as well as Foreign Secretary, Shri Vinay Kwatra on the dais. I'd also like to acknowledge the presence of Secretary (East), Shri Saurabh Kumar, Secretary (CPV & OIA), Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (Economic Relations), Shri Dammu Ravi, as well as Special Secretary (ER and DPA), Shri Prabhat Kumar. Sir, may I request you to make opening remarks after which we'll be taking questions.
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: Very good morning to all of you, my Namaskar. Our Ministers of State, our Secretaries and friends of the media, it's really very great pleasure to talk to all of you today as we mark the completion of nine years of the Modi Government. I think most of you would not dispute that among the many areas where there's been a significant transformation, foreign policy would surely be among them. It's reflected in the country's higher standing, greater influence, bigger footprint, new concepts and stronger delivery. Now there are many ways by which one can judge how foreign policy has changed, how it was delivered, where has it made its deepest impact. I would like to pick two broad themes today as the metrics by which you can evaluate Indian foreign policy over the last nine years. The first theme is how does the world see India today. And the second is really how has foreign policy affected the lives of the common citizens. So those are really the two perspectives from which I would like to present to you the foreign policy of the last nine years. Now ,in terms of how the world sees India today, I think you can't get a better set of people than those sitting on the podium to give you that view because we travel out, we engage people on behalf of India. We talk to the leaderships in different places, you know, since we travel around, we've mixed with many sections of society. So what in a sense I present to you, is a accumulation of our collective experiences...and if I were to pick them probably the one which I would start off with is how much today the world, especially the global south, perceives India as a development partner; as a credible effective development partner with delivery on the ground. And I... actually I'm just reminded of my last visit. I came back yesterday morning from Namibia and I inaugurated formally a center of excellence in IT, which has been functioning there for about a year and a half...and the impact on the technology University of Namibia by our giving a Param Supercomputer, having trainers out there, working with them, developing cyber security skills, developing entrepreneurship skills, promoting research...I cannot describe to you the excitement in the University.
Or I look at the trip before that. A very different place and a very different subject. I was in Guyana and it so happened at that time, we were delivering for the first time ever, a ferry. A first time ever a ferry that far away to the continent, to the southern, to the Western Hemisphere, that too in the south. And the ferry had a transformational message for the Guyanese, because it made suddenly the islands and even the coastline far more accessible. So actually you had the entire Guyanese cabinet, the previous President, you know, everybody really turn out because for them it was such a big event.
A little bit before that, I was in Mozambique and I was urged to take a ride on a train which we had supplied. It wasn't just a train we actually made possible the beginnings of a suburban rail system in Maputo, which would decongest that city, because the kind of trains and the price points and the quality that we did, that actually had a sort of really a very big impact on the planet. I could give you many more examples.
In Kenya there's a textile factory which was closed down which we helped to revive. Every Kenyan...if you use the word Rivatex, every Kenyan knows this textile factory...or indeed go to Mauritius, you know, they are enormously proud of this Metro Express which was built by an Indian company based on development support. And it isn't just my experience, I mean, my colleagues would vouch for something similar happening with them. Dr. Ranjan was telling me about a cardamom seed center which he had seen in Laos or Muraleedharanji was talking about entrepreneurship development centers which he saw in Djibouti and I think in Rwanda, am I correct? So you know wherever you go today and I want you to understand today how big our development footprint is. It is today extending across 78 nations and we have done more than 600 major projects but most of all the impact is actually in our own neighborhood. But if you look….we've just had the visit of Nepal's Prime Minister and you know, again there was a stock taking of...and frankly satisfaction at a lot of what has been achieved. A lot of new projects which are coming on stream. But if you look at the neighborhood at South Asia, in the last nine years whether it is power transmission, power generation, whether it is diesel supply, fuel supply, whether it is bridges, roads, railways, ICPs actually the region is changing...ferry in the case of Maldives.
So, the first point I want to make to you is, a large part of the world today sees us as a development partner, not just as a development partner; a development partner who lives up to what Prime Minister enunciated as the Kampala principles, which is...we do with our partners what is their priority. So it is one part of it is the credibility, one part of it is also what is it we are doing, it is something which is important for them, they have determined what it is or we have mutually determined what it is, and that I think today has very significantly enhanced us.
The second image of India today is of an economic collaborator...an economic collaborator not just with the developing South but with the global economy. And you can see that in terms of the FDI flows, in terms of the increased exports, in terms of actually this very important conversation taking place in the world today about trusted collaboration.
In my last visit to the US...and you know Foreign Secretary has just come back...he's taken that forward...the American Semiconductor Association told me that to the best of their knowledge they employ at least 40,000 engineers in India on chips design alone and that's just the bit which they know. So the point I want to make here is, apart from development in terms of South-South, there is a larger economic impact we are making and that is today increasingly recognized.
And the third is really as a contributor and perhaps there cannot be a better example of our contribution than Vaccine Maitri. I mean even today when you go around the world, actually people get emotional talking about the arrival of vaccines. The other example I would cite to you is our growing capability and a growing record as a first responder. We initially did more of this in our immediate neighborhood but I think slowly with the passage of time that has extended beyond and you saw really how speedy and effective we were in responding to the earthquake. Now apart from these, I could cite to you the examples of the International Solar Alliance or the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, as examples where we have contributed. But we can also contribute in terms of economic stabilization...and you all saw what happened to Sri Lanka last year and this year, that at a time when much of the world sat on its hands, we actually step forward at a very, very crucial time to stabilize the Sri Lankan economy. And today if it is on the mend, I think a large part of it is due to the fact that we responded in a timely manner.
Now beyond that, I've spoken about the development economic side, the contributions we make. We also bring value...and because we bring value there is a lot of interest today in partnering with India or getting India to join an organization. So if you look at the last nine years, you had the Quad, you had the I2U2, you had the Shanghai...our membership of the Shanghai Corporation Organization. You had bilaterally a lot of migration mobility agreements. You had the FIPIC platform. You had the Nordics format. You had our entry into export control regimes because clearly our presence there has a additional value to their effectiveness.
If I were to pick another facet, I would say we are also today narrative shapers. And as you know perhaps the most effective example of that is the rush...I would say almost the pressure that we have each time Raisina dialogue is there. That today people want to listen to India, they want to be seen with India, they do feel that working with us expands and sharpens their own influence as well. But it's not just a conference, it's also an important subject. You can see it on climate change. You could see it when PM went to Glasgow or to Paris. You can see it in counter-terrorism. The fact that the ‘No Money for Terror’ actually got so much more traction after it was held in India. You can see it in a concept, how rapidly Indo-Pacific and Quad have taken root in the global strategic lexicon. You can see it in something like ‘LiFE’ which Prime Minister and UN Secretary General initiated last October...or you could see just in culture. In fact Meenakashi ji was, you know, every time she goes to Central Asia and she was talking to me about her experience to Uzbekistan...that the impact today we are making because we are proud of our traditions, others also are feeling that and wanting to absorb that in different ways and they celebrate it along with us.
Now that picture which I put to you, obviously has to be underpinned by politics and here I think the last few years if anything, have only underlined India's credentials, India standing, India's DNA I would say almost, as an independent force. Now you're all aware of the debates in the last year about Ukraine and various ramifications, that's one example I would say of where we were clear from the very start about taking an independent stance, not just on the conflict itself but on the various ramifications of that conflict. But I could share with you other examples, the Quad. Do remember the Quad was first an idea which came about in 2007 and then in 2008 everybody buckled to pressure. Ten years later, when this time around we were doing Quad, it was not that there wasn't pressure, it was just that we didn't bend. So Quad too is an example of our independence. As indeed is the Voice of Global South, you know, we are the first G20 President who have actually made an effort to consult other people and 125 countries responded because they believed we are an independent voice. So when I say how does the world look at us...there can be no bigger endorsement of our standing than the manner in which 125 countries respond during the Voice of Global South. But it can also be on the ground, you know, when we stand up on our northern borders, vis-a-vis, China, when we take a clear stand on Belt and Road; those two are examples of our independence that we are not swayed by, either coercion or by inducement or by false narratives.
So, the facets of how the world looks at us, obviously also is influenced by to some extent how we look after our own people. And you know, during COVID, a lot of countries left their nationals to fend for themselves. I think we were the other extreme; no other country did as much as we did. We brought back directly during COVID itself at least 70 lakh people who in some way had been stranded or were compelled to come back to India. We also have in these nine years created the systems. So there are systems for people to come back but there are also systems to support them when they are abroad. So if Indians are in distress, the Indian Community Welfare Fund, the expansion of it and the repurposing of it, I think was very, very useful during this COVID. And of course most of all you have seen these repeated operations. I mean somehow it has happened from 2014 almost every year, I mean it's a reflection of the state of the world, that almost every year we have had to undertake some operation somewhere. It's a reflection of the world but it's also a reflection of the globalization of India, that our people, I mean I'm sure many of you would not have anticipated that we would have 5,000 nationals in Sudan or that we had 20,000 students in Ukraine or that we would have people stuck in South Sudan or even in Afghanistan as Kabul was falling.
So, I would say it's one thing of course...and I'll come to that...well you know, what difference it makes to our citizens. But I must also tell you the world watches us. I mean what we did in Ukraine was the subject of numerous conversations with my counterparts and I've heard, you know, people, Presidents and Prime Ministers also speak to our own Prime Minister in that regard. But while we look after our own, we also take pride and I think the world recognizes that, that we are genuinely international. We are international and that is exhibited in what we are doing on climate action, what as I said we did on vaccines through Vaccine Maitri and through supply of medicines, what we are doing in terms of food, you know the millets again... Namibia...they were very interested in working with us on production and expanding production and consumption of millets, or on counterterrorism, or on creating more reliable and resilient supply chains, first responder certainly highlights our credentials, or on maritime security. So if you look at the activities of India in different domains...yes there is a strong sense this is a country today determined to look after the interest...its interest, the welfare of its people but it is also a Government very much committed to international, to global good, to internationalism...and I think that message too, it resonates particularly strongly in the South. But I think not only in the South...I think much of the world today appreciates it and they actually see us in a way as a force of good.
But while I speak about all of this, I think...what really fascinates the world today is actually not what we are only doing in foreign policy, it is what we are doing in domestic policy. It is actually the huge domestic transformation, especially how we have today used the digital medium for the delivery of public goods and services, how we are today really transforming Indian society in terms of, social development goals, the literacy missions, the gender effort, the Jal Jeevan mission, the electricity connections, the Swachh Bharat. I think these are today...clearly for a lot of developing countries, this is an example. But it's not again only developing countries, you know, there are countries who actually look at it in terms of...I mean, one country for example which showed a lot of interest on the digital, on UPI, was Singapore. And already Singapore I was told, more than a billion dollars have come through the UPI system to India. Japan was very interested in UPI. When people look today at the India stack and if I were to move to the technology area at what we are doing on 4G, 5G...that interest is not just in the developing world it's also equally in the developed world. So the domestic progress I would say that too has made, not that too I would say that most of all, has made actually a huge impact on the thinking of the world. So after nine years I can really say without hesitation that in terms of our standing, in terms of where we are in global consciousness, it is something very much deeper than before.
Now let me say a few words about how the average citizen has benefited. I think to start with, the average citizen has seen enhanced security. If I were to start in the east, the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh, particularly it's had a transformational impact on the Northeast. It has allowed progress, it has allowed in fact not just better law and order and stability in Northeast but also given Northeast a connectivity through Bangladesh in this improved climate. The fact that I think we are countering Chinese actions on the northern borders, I think has also enhanced security. As indeed the fact that we have delegitimized terrorism from across the Pakistani border. So today I would say the activities of Indian diplomacy clearly have made the nation more secure. But they have also made the nation much more stronger economically. And again I can cite to you different metrics for measuring that. It could be in greater exports, in bigger FDI flows, in stronger technology collaborations, in...today in softening oil prices. Because had our diplomacy not done its work, I think it would have had an impact on the petrol costs, in fertilizer costs that, you know, given how fertilizers are one of our key imports. So working with our counterparts there we have actually stabilized the market and reached long term agreements which definitely benefit the country and benefit Indian farmers. And between fertilizer, oil costs, I think it has an impact on inflation as well. And regionally, I would say particularly Northeast, I think economic activity in Northeast are definitely benefited from what Indian diplomacy is delivering.
But another area where I think the common citizen has benefited is actually in greater mobility and greater opportunity abroad. I have spoken about the mobility agreements that we have done; we've done it now with a number of countries with Portugal, with UK, just done with Germany, Austria, Australia. And where our workers or professionals go abroad, I think we have today much better systems for their welfare as well. And it's particularly important, as Murleeji will tell you in the Gulf, where actually you know the working conditions of people who go are much better as a result of agreement we've concluded. But underlying all of this is actually a great public service revolution we have done and that is in the field of passports. In 2014 there were 77 Passport Seva Kendras in the country. Since then we added 16 Passport Seva Laghu Kendras and 430 Passport Seva Kendras located in post offices. So essentially what was below hundred today is in excess of 500 and the convenience to people; because you know we who live in cities still do not understand how hard it is just to get to a Passport Seva. So the fact that we have made the Passport Kendra, the servicing center, the collection center, the delivery center, so much more widely distributed in this country. That has had a huge impact. And if you look at passport figures, we were issuing less than nine million passports, 8.7 actually, in 2014. Today we are issuing more than 14 million passports. And the only reason we are doing 14 is that we have to ramp up the capability and actually the faster we process it, we are very confident this demand will keep going up. And one part of it is we are making it easier to get passports. And I think your personal experiences will tell you that it is actually, the speed at which you get it is significantly better than what it was a decade ago. But it's also happened abroad. Because remember, we render more than a million passport services out of the country. And out of the country before, the time period was enormous because you had to go through a cumbersome process of checking. Today, actually, because there is a database called GPSP, that it is possible, and 181 embassies and consulates are connected. There are a few who still have to be done. But even replacement or renewal of passports abroad has become very much easier. So whether it is the ability to travel abroad, the mobility agreements, the totalization issues we are pushing, the specialized skilled workers which we are giving access to, I think these today have been a change.
A third area, of course, is in technology capabilities. And I think the more we collaborate globally in technology, it could be G2G, it could be B2B, it could be G2B, it could be best practices, it could be projects. So the combination of all of this, you can see there's a very conscious drive for technology upgrades, and that is today actually opening many new opportunities, especially for the youth of this country.
The fourth is, of course, security abroad. I have spoken about multiple operations. The Indian Community Welfare Fund, the consular services, even something like students. Today's students know that whether it is their legitimate case for working hours or other difficulties that they face, sometimes even security issues, that the Government of India will back them up and back them up perhaps in a manner in which we didn't do before.
And finally, I would say, there is a cultural respect for us today. There is a cultural respect, and there are a variety of reasons for it. Part of it is also that we ourselves have globalized many of our practices. I think the International Day of Yoga is not just a shared celebration, I think it's also a shared understanding of what is happening in India. And that is extending to other fields, could be Ayurveda, it could be, in a way, our way of life. So anybody going out today, I think an Indian going out today is more likely to be, in a sense, understood by the rest of the world. And all of this, I'm not suggesting, is only due to Government efforts, I think there are a lot of other independent processes in play. But certainly, we help to guide it, channel it, encourage it.
So if this is the picture I present to you, I would like to end very briefly with my sense of what has changed in India. Why has this happened? I think it has happened, first of all, because where foreign policy is concerned, starting from day one, when you saw the leaders of our neighbors present at the oath-taking of the Council of Ministers in 2014...starting from day one, till now, there has been strategic clarity. There has been strategic clarity in terms of understanding the world and organizing ourselves into, you know, a neighborhood first circle, extended neighborhoods, the SAGAR, Africa beyond, the major powers. So how we perceive the world and how we interact with the world and how we develop policies for each of those and for combinations of these, I think that is to me, a number one reason.
And along with that, and this phrase, which has been used...hesitations of history, that we are no longer a prisoner of our past, that if there are gains to the country, if there are benefits for our citizens, we are not held back because of ideological reservations. Along with that, I would say the strategic communication, that we are able, probably, if you look at us, I would say not only us Ministers, but even the Secretaries or probably my colleagues, who are in different MEA buildings, we are far more intensely active and interactive than those before us. I'm not in any way disrespecting those people. I think it is partly the situation. It is the big picture, which is also...it is also the greater interest, the fact that the world wants to deal more with us. But what it has done is this dynamic of our capabilities and change, the world's interest, then our response, I think it has created today, a virtuous cycle in diplomacy, which is part of this change.
The third reason is a confidence in handling multi-polarity and multi-alignment. Because one of the long-standing dilemmas for Indian foreign policy is, if the world is polarized or there are multiple centers of power, how do you deal with all of them? And I would suggest to you that we have done it, especially in the last nine years, with a great deal of confidence, with results to show for it. And if you look at the major power centers, with the exception of China, for reasons which all of you are aware, I would say almost every one of these accounts has progressed, some of them in actually very challenging circumstances.
A fourth reason is actually what has changed is the delivery focus. That it isn't just that you go declare something and then let it happen in its own speed, and sometimes they never happen. The sense within the Government that there has to be delivery, there has to be timeline, there has to be budget, and this is backed up by monitoring. So within the Government, there is a very famous exercise called PRAGATI. And this PRAGATI model, which Prime Minister himself started, and which we have departmentalized internally as well, that we keep drilling down to see why is a project stuck, why is something not moved, where are our promises, what has been delivered, what is still pending. So the whole delivery, monitoring aspect, that has been, if you ask me, one of the hallmarks, really, of the Modi Government's administrative style.
The fourth is, of course, what I said, the people-centric view. Improving passports could have happened earlier if people felt it was important, if you actually put citizens at the center. Worrying about people abroad...they could be tourists, they could be seafarers, they could be students. I mean, in a way, you could ask yourself, why are we doing these operations year after year? Why do we battle for our students? Why do we push Embassies to give visas? Why are we strengthening passport system? Because at the end of the day, I think this people-centric view of governance, of responsibility, which includes obviously, diplomacy and foreign policy. I think that is something which has been part of the chain.
I would also say there's a greater pride in the country. There's a stronger belief in our culture, heritage, civilization. That has certainly, I mean, if our self-belief is stronger, certainly the world looks at you with greater respect. And as I said, at the end of the day, there is an international outlook, which the Modi Government has brought to bear, and that certainly boosted international cooperation.
So the picture, and I'll conclude with that, the picture that I really present to you is at home a much greater, I would say, sensitivity to people's needs, a conscious effort to associate them with foreign policy. And you can see that most of all in the manner in which we are marking the G20 Presidency, the Jan Bhagidari approach, which is quite unique in our diplomatic annals, I think in many ways reflects the Modi Government's approach. But you can see it abroad. You all know that in the next few days, Prime Minister Modi would be undertaking what is only the third State visit. And he would be the first Indian leader to address the US Congress twice. The month after that, he's going as the chief guest on Bastille Day, I think July 14th. You saw the welcome, the respect that he got in Papua New Guinea, or the welcome that he got in Australia. I spoke to you about the responses of the Global South and the Voice of Global South Summit. So I think in all objectivity, the report card of the Indian foreign policy of the last nine years under the Modi Government, is a very solid report card. It is a report card not just in terms of respect and outcomes, it is also a report card which tells every Indian citizen that they are more secure traveling abroad, that we have their back. Tells every citizen that foreign policy at the end of the day is purposed for their benefit, for their welfare, with their interests at heart. And that is really the report card that we would like to put before the nation today.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much, sir. Before we take questions, let me let out the ground rules. Because of time constraints, we'll only take one question per person. I see lots of hands. Patience, please. Please introduce yourselves, as well as the organization that you represent. And we'll take questions in groups of three. Maybe I'll start with the lady there. Yeshi, go ahead.
Yeshi Seli: Good morning. This is Yeshi Seli from the New Indian Express. Sir, the fate of 700 Indians students studying in Canada is under limbo. And they are probably going to be deported on June the 13th. Is there something that the Government is likely to do? And in addition, there was this procession which was taken out in Brampton yesterday, where they were glorifying the assassination of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: May I also request a limit to one question per person?
Bramh Prakash Dubey: Main sir Bramh Prakash Dubey hoon Zee News se. Mera sawal ye hain ki aapne nau saal ka report card bataya, lakin Rahul Gandhi haal hi mai Britain gaye, America gaya, woh keh rahe hain Bharat mai sari loktantrik sansthain nast ho rahi hain, Bharat mai loktantra nast ho raha hain. To is se videsh mantralay ko videshon mai samjane mai chunauti badh gayi hain ya aapko lagta hain ki Rahul Gandhi ko wahan koi serious nahi leta?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] I am Bramh Prakash Dubey from Zee News. My question is that you recently presented a report card for the past nine years, but Rahul Gandhi recently visited Britain and America, and he is saying that all democratic institutions in India are being destroyed, democracy is being destroyed in India. So, has this increased the challenge for the Ministry of External Affairs to explain it to other countries, or do you think that Rahul Gandhi is not taken seriously there?
Abhishek Kapoor: Sir, this is Abhishek Kapoor from Republic TV. Since you've been taking some questions from the United States, Kurt Campbell, Senior White House Officer, official said India-U.S. relationship is going to see escape velocity getting in between the two. And since you mentioned it, I'm just taking this, if you can take this question. You mentioned except for China, we have done well everywhere else, if you could elaborate.
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: So, let me start with Canada. You know, for some time now, there is this case of students who the Canadians say did not study in the college which they should have studied, and when they applied for a work permit, they got into difficulties. From the very start, we, meaning the Foreign Ministry here, as well as our High Commission and the Consulates in Canada have taken up their case. And our point is that, look, the students studied in good faith. If there were people who misled them, the people who misled them, the culpable parties should be acted against. It is unfair to punish a student who undertook their education in good faith. So, the latest report that I got, in fact only this morning, was that I think yesterday the Canadian Prime Minister also kind of made a statement in the House of Commons there, and the Minister also tweeted something, and they have also been talking to our High Commission out there. I think the Canadians also accept that, you know, it would be unfair, I mean, if a student has done no wrong. And, you know, I don't know if all the cases are the same. I mean, there is a granularity about it which, sitting at this distance, neither you or I can judge. If a student has done no wrong, they accept the idea that, they have to find some solution for it. So, we will continue to press, and I would very much hope that the Canadian system is fair in that regard.
Regarding this float issue used, let me actually answer it, because I think there is a bigger issue involved. And the bigger issue involved is really the space that Canada has continuously and frankly to us, you know, we are at a loss to understand, other than the requirements of Vote Bank politics, why anybody would do this. Because if you look at their history, I mean, you would imagine that they learned about their history and they wouldn't like to repeat that history. So, you know, it isn't only one incident, however egregious it may be. I think there is a larger underlying issue about the space which is given to separatists, to extremists, to people who advocate violence, and I think it's not good for the relationship and I think it's not good for Canada.
Jo aapka jo sawal tha Rahul Gandhi wala, dekhiye unki aadat hain ki jab woh bahar jate hain, woh desh ki aalochana karte hain, hamari rajniti ke baare mai tippani karte hain. Par jo aapka prashn hain ki dusron pe iska kya asar padta hain? Ab duniya hamain dekh rahi hain, aur duniya kya dekh rahi hain? duniya dekh rahi hain ke is desh mai chunav hote hain, chunav mai kabhi ek party jitti hain, kabhi dusri party jitti hain, toh agar desh mai democracy nahi hain toh ye aisa parivartan toh nahi aana chahiye na? Har chunav ka result ek hi hona chahiye, waise chovis ka chunav result to wahi hoga, hamain pata hain. Par agar aap dekhain jo ye pura narrative jo hain, ye hamare yahan desh mai narrative bana hain, aur jab ye narrative desh mai nahi chalta ya kam chalta hain toh isko bahar le jao aur unki apesksha hain ki bahar ka support jo hain woh desh mai chalega, mujhe legta hain ki yahan aam nagrik jo hain, dekhiye hamare yahan jitne bhi aap.. bich mai hamare yahan democracy hai, aapka kuch bhi hoga, mera kuch bhi hoga, aapki politics kuch hogi, hamari politics kuch hogi, desh mai jo kare mujhe ismai kio etraz nahi hain, par mujhe nahi lagta ki bahar ja ke desh ki politics ko bahar le jana desh ke heet mai hain. Aur mujhe nahi lagta ki unki credibility uske karan bedhegi.
[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Regarding your question about Rahul Gandhi, let me explain. It's his habit that whenever he goes out, he criticizes the country and comments on our politics. But your question is about the impact it has on others. Now the world is watching us, and what is the world seeing? The world sees that elections take place in this country, sometimes one party wins, sometimes another party wins. So if there is no democracy in the country, then this change shouldn't occur right? Every election should have the same result. Though the result of the 2024 election will be the same, we know that. But if you look at the entire narrative, it has become a narrative in our country, and when this narrative doesn't work or doesn't have much impact in the country, he takes it outside and expects the support from outside to work in the country. I think the common citizens here, you see, in the midst of everything, we have democracy. Whatever happens to you, whatever happens to me, you will have your politics, we will have our politics, I have no objection to whatever you do in the country. But I don't think taking the country's politics outside is in the best interest of the country. And I don't think their credibility will increase because of it.
The question, China. Look, I said our relationship with all the major power centers, you can say, have evolved, because that is the record. I mean, you look at the US, look at Russia even with all these challenges, look at UK, France, look at EU, Germany, Japan, or if you take regions, Gulf, ASEAN, each one of these have advanced. And why have they advanced? They didn't advance by gravity and, you know, by nature. They advanced because people worked very hard. That in each of these relationships, actually the Modi government has driven, it has put in place policies, the Prime Minister himself has sort of led the diplomatic efforts from the front, that we have tried to find areas of agreement, of collaboration, of working together with these countries, we have tried to expand the economic base, the technology base, tried to find security partners, and we have been largely successful. Now, why the exception? Well, in a sense, that answer can only be given by China, because China consciously, for some reason, chose in 2020 to, you know, breaking agreements to move forces to the border areas and seek to coerce us. So, I think, you know, it's been made very clear to them that until there is peace and tranquility in the border areas, our relationship cannot progress. So, that is the obstacle which is holding that back.
Manish Jha: Sir, main Manish Jha hoon TV Nine Bharatvarsh se. Sir, mera sawal ye hain ki Russia Ukraine yudh mai India ka stand aur aapke jo statements hain woh bahot sare jo dusre desh hain unke diplomats ne bhi kafi saraha hain. Un logon ne bhi kafi appriciate kiya ki aapne jis tarah se stand liya, chahe woh European platform pe bhi. Lekin Sabse badi chinta yeh hain ki is yudh ki wajah se China ka bahot jyada Russia ke sath relation strong ho gaya hain. kal hi uske armoured vehicle Russian mai dikhai diye hain, isse pahle drone wagaira aa rahe the, economy mai kafi involvement ho gayi hain. Toh waise sthiti mai aapko nahi lagta hain ki kal ke din Bharat aur Russia ka relation par prabhav padega, khas kar ke tab jab hum Quad mai bhi utna hi active hain. toh kaise isko aap neutralize karenge?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sir, I am Manish Jha from TV Nine Bharatvarsh. Sir, my question is regarding India's stand in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the statements you have made that have been appreciated by diplomats from various other countries, including on the European platform. However, the biggest concern is that due to this conflict, China has strengthened its relations with Russia to a great extent. Just yesterday, their armoured vehicles were seen in Russia, and before that, there were drones and other economic involvements. In such a situation, don't you think that in the future, it will have an impact on India-Russia relations, especially when we are equally active in the Quad? How will you neutralize this situation?
Pranay Upadhyaya: Sir Pranay Upadhyaya ABP News se. Sir mera sawal is chiz ko lekar hain ki aapne 2014 ke andar is chiz ke sath mai surwat ki ki padosiyon ko sath liya jaye, neighborhood first ki policy ke sath. Bharat ki neighborhood ke ander China, aur Pakistan do neighbours ke sath relations difficult rahi hain, aap neighborhood policy ke liye kinko faultline mante hain aur kahan par aapko lagta hain ki aapke areas of challenge hain jiske upar aap kaam karna chahenge?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sir, I am Pranaya Upadhaya from ABP News. Sir, my question is regarding your initiative in 2014 to involve neighbours, keeping the "neighborhood first" policy in mind. India's relations with its neighbors, particularly China and Pakistan, have been challenging. Whom do you consider as faultlines for the neighborhood policy, and where do you think your areas of challenge lie, which you would like to work on?
Srinjoy: Sir, Times now. You spoke about the northern border. You mentioned what happened in 2020. You said that unless there is a change from Beijing's side, you cannot…unless there is peace and tranquility, the relationship cannot move forward. But as of now, what do you see happening in the sense…do you see any kind of meetings between strategic representatives? Do you see any attempt by China at de-escalation, which comes after disengagement? There are two little bits of disengagement still left. What is the future, sir?
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: Aapka jo pehla sawal tha Ukraine ke bare mai jo sawal tha, dekhiye jo Ukraine mai yudh jo chal raha hain uska asar jo duniya par hain ye alag alag regions mai, alag alag deshon mai uska apna prabhav hota hain. Ab Russia aur kisi aur desh, China ho ya koi aur desh ho ab unke rishte aur najdiki honge ya dur ke honge, woh khud tay karenge. Hamara rishta jo Russia ke sath agar aap dekhain, 1955 ke baad jab Khrushchev and Bulganin aaye the yahan, jab veto.. pahli baar unhone United Nations mai Bharat ka samarthan kiya tha us time. Hamare rishte jo hain woh bohot hi steady rahain hain. Aur is dauran duniya mai bahot hi bade parivartan aaye, Soviet sangh tut chuka tha, cold war aaya, cold war gaya, unipolar aaya, woh bhi gaya, Europe unify hua…aur aapas mai agar dekhain Russia China ke relation, Russian-US ke, Russia-Europe ke, in sab sambandho mai kabhi up aur down hota raha. Humare sambandh jo hain bahot hi steady rahain hain aur iske karan hain. Iske karan hain kyuki dono deshon mai ek to leadership iske mahatva ko samjhati hain, public sentiment bhi sath deti hain. Hum dono ke yahan ke ye samjh hain ki hum dono bade Eurasian desh hain, pura eurasia ke stability ek kisam se hampe nirbhar hain, hamare rishton pe nirbhar hain, toh jo aap keh rahain hain, haan, aisi analysis main padhta rehta hoon, par aap hakikat dekhiye na…ki humne pichle saalo mai bhi rishton ko aisa kuch hone nahi diya jiske karan kuch prashnchinh uthe hamare bare mai. Toh ye mera uttar hain aapke liye.
[Answered in Hindi: Approximate translation] Your first question about Ukraine, the war that is going on in Ukraine has a different effect on the world, it has its own influence in different regions and different countries. Now whether Russia or any other country, China or any other country, their relations will be closer or far away, they will decide for themselves. If you look at our relations with Russia, after 1955, when Khrushchev and Bulganin came here, for the first time they supported India in the United Nations, our relations have been very steady. And during this period, there were many major changes in the world, the Soviet Union had collapsed , Cold War came, Cold War went, Unipolar came, that went too, Europe unified. And if we look at the relationship between Russia, China-Russia, US-Russia, Russia-Europe, all these relations have had their ups and downs, but our relations have been very steady and there is reason to it. And the reason is, because in both countries, leadership and public sentiment also supports it. Both of us understand that we are a big Eurasian countries, the stability of the whole of Europe is on us, on our relations. So what you are saying, yes, I keep reading such analysis, but if you look at the reality, in the last year, we did not let such relations happen, because of which some problems arose about us. So this is my answer for you.
Dusra jo hain neighborhood first jo aap puch rahain the. Jo report card maine aap logon ke samne prastut kiya hain usmai sabse jyada agar aap dekhain, sabse hamari pragati bhi neighborhood mai hui hain, hamari chunautiya bhi neighborhood mai hain. toh dono hain sath sath. ke baki neighbors ke sath Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, even Myanmar, aap dekhain political relations are strong, regional connectivity, mane ek kisam se ek regional, ek pahli bar yahan ek regional economy ban rahi hain, kyuki jab ek desh se dusre desh petrol jata, bijli jati hain, sadkain jati hain, railgadiya jati hain, aaj jo hain hum Bangladesh ke bandargahon ka upyog kar sakte hain jo ek bahot badi…nai baat hain. Toh ek level pe main kahunga progress report mai bahot saflata main aapko dikha sakta hoon. Par jahan chunauti hain, ek to pakistan ke sath aur ye koi naya vishay nahi hain, shuru se ye cross border terrorism uski chunauti thi aur fark ye hain ke hum jo hain isko bardhast karne ke liye taiyar nahi hain. Toh yaa to aap kahain ke neighborhood first ke karan hum terrorism ko side mai rakhain aur pakistan ke sath cooperation badhate jaye, ye na to desh ki sentiment hain na to Modi goverment ki soch hain. Toh ismai agar pakistan rishton ko aage le jana chahta hain, unko pata hain kya karna hain. Usmai unko pata hain, duniya ko pata hain. Aur jo China ka jo hain, maine abhi unko samjhaya hamari koshish thi ki China ke sath, hamare padoshi hain, duniya ki sabse badi economy hain, aur hum to chahenge ki rishte acche ho. Par rishte tabhi acche ho sakte hain jab border area mai peace aur tranquility ho aur jab koi agreement ho to uska palan hona chahiye. Toh agar agreement ka ullanghan hua aur aapne peace aur tranquility ko kahin chhod diya, toh aap hi bataye ki rishton ko kaise aage le jaye.
[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] The second is that, the neighborhood first, which you were asking about. The report card that I have presented in front of you, if you look at it most of our success is also in the neighborhood, and our challenges are also in the neighborhood. So both are there at the same time. With the rest of the neighbors, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar, you see, political relations are strong, regional connectivity. I mean, for the first time, a regional economy is being formed here. Because when the petrol goes from from one country to the another, electricity goes, roads go, rail cars go. Today, we can use the ports of Bangladesh, which is a very big…new thing. So at one level, I will say, I can show you a lot of success in the progress report. But where there are challenges, one is with Pakistan. And this is not a new issue. From the beginning, this was the challenge of cross-border terrorism. And the difference is that we are not ready to tolerate it. So either you say that because of the neighborhood, we should keep terrorism aside and increase the cooperation with Pakistan. This is neither the sentiment of the country nor the view of the Modi government. So if Pakistan wants to take the relations ahead, they know what needs to be done? I mean, they know, the world knows. And China, as I just explained to him, that in our efforts with China…it is our neighbour, the biggest economy in the world. And we want the relations to be good. But the relations can only be good until there is peace and tranquility in the border area. And when there is an agreement, it should be followed. So if there is a violation of the agreement and you have left peace and tranquility somewhere, then you tell me how to take the relations ahead.
So the question of Times Now with China, see we are talking. It is not that communications have broken down. So Srinjoy, I am responding to you. The point is that with China, in fact even on the day, even before Galwan happened, we were talking to the Chinese saying that look, we are seeing movements of your forces, which in our view is violative of our understanding. The day after Galwan happened, in fact the morning after, I actually spoke to my counterpart. Since then, we have engaged, the military commanders have engaged, our embassies have engaged, I have engaged with my counterpart, and I continue to do that. When Foreign Minister Qin Gang was here in Goa, we had a long discussion. Even when I was in BRICS, he did not come. His deputy came. We had a chat on the side. Look, we have to, you know, the two of us have to find a way of disengaging, because I don't believe that this present impasse serves China's interests either. The fact is the relationship is impacted, and the relationship will continue to be impacted. If there is any expectation that somehow we will normalize while the border situation is not normal, that's not a well-founded expectation. So your question, what do you, you know, what can we expect? Look, at multilateral events, we will, we will, obviously the Chinese are there and we are there. You know, it is likely that we would, there would be a conversation between us. Bilaterally, I mean, since Galwan happened, we have had one visit by Mr. Wang Yi to India. And, but I think the main mechanisms, we have a mechanism called WMCC, and we have a mechanism called Senior High Level Commander's Meeting. One, you know, one is a kind of military-led with MEA in it, the other is MEA-led with military in it. These mechanisms continue to do the work, because at the end of the day, disengagement is a very detailed process. You know, it's not something which is a kind of, I mean, obviously you have to have a leadership level by it, but the details of it have to be worked out by people, people on the ground. So I think all of this would continue to happen.
Kavita Joshi: Sir good morning, mein Kavita Joshi hoon Haribhoomi Newspaper se. Sir mera sawal ye hain abhi aapne apne opening remarks mai do chizon ki baat ki thi, apne neighborhood ke liye, jo neighboring countries hain india ke. Ek toh aapne kaha ki strategic clearity aur ek aapne kaha ki strategic communication india ka bahot sound hua hain. Mera sawal ye hain ki abhi kuch din pahle Pradhan Mantri ne parliament ki nai building ka inaugration kiya hain, usmai ek naksha laga hua hain jise akhand bharat kaha jata hain, use le kar ke aapke padoshi deshon mai, tin deshon mai, nepal, bangladesh aur pakistan mai vivad hain. do mitra desh hain bharat ke aur pakistan hamara shatru rasthra hain. Toh sir ye main aapse puchna chahti hoon ki ek toh ye jo akhand bharat ko lekar vivad hain ispe bharat ka kya kehna hain apne padoshi deshon ko? Aur jaise ki kal nepal ke pradhan mantri ne wahan ki parliament mai ye kaha hain ki maine ye mudda apni bharat yatra ke duaran uthaya tha jiske jawab mai mujhe bhartiya paksh ne ye kaha hain ki ye rajnitik naksha nahi hain, ye sanskrutik naksha hain. Toh ye jawab aapka kewal aapke mitr rashtron ke liye hain jaise nepal aur bangladesh kyu ki ismai PoK ka bhi hissa hain aur PoK ko lekar bharat ka jo stand hain wo kafi alag stand raha hain, hum hamesha hi ye kehte rahain hain ki PoK avaidh kabja hain pakistan ka aur bharat usko adhikar kshtra mai kabhi bhi lega. Ek toh ye clearlity karain ki jawab aapka yahin hain, ki ye sanskrutik hain ya rajnitik hain. Aur PoK ko lekar pakistan ko kya sandesh hain?
[Question in Hindi – Approximate Translation] Good morning, Kavita Joshi from Haribhoomi Newspaper. Sir, my question is that, in your opening remarks, you mentioned two things about India's neighborhood. One was strategic clarity, and the other was strategic communication, which you said has been very sound from our side. My question is related to the recent inauguration of the new Parliament building by the Prime Minister, where a map depicting "Akhand Bharat" was displayed, which has caused controversy in three neighboring countries: Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Nepal and Bangladesh are friendly nations to India, while Pakistan is considered an adversary. So, my question is, what is India's response to the controversy surrounding the concept of "Akhand Bharat" among its neighboring countries? Additionally, yesterday, the Prime Minister of Nepal stated in their Parliament that he raised this issue during his visit to India, and in response, the Indian side said it is not a political map but a cultural map. So, is this response only for friendly nations like Nepal and Bangladesh, considering that it includes Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as well, regarding which our stand has been quite different, as India has always maintained that PoK is illegally occupied by Pakistan and will eventually be reclaimed by India? Please clarify if your response is that it is a cultural map or a political map, and what message does it convey to Pakistan regarding PoK?
Smita Sharma: Smita Sharma, I work independently. Just wanted to check is India expecting President Zelenskyy to be in attendance during the G20 summit? Is there any invitation that has been extended, is being extended? And...
Umashankar: Main Umashankar hoon NDTV se. Aapne duniya ke paripeksya mai bataya ki 2014 ke baad kis tarah se bharat ka footprint jo hain woh badha hain duniya mai. Mera sawal specifically middle east ko lekar hain ki 2014 ke baad kis tarike se middle east ko lekar hamari jo diplomacy hain wo badli hain aur kya achievements rahain hain?
[Question in Hindi – Approximate Translation] I am Umashankar from NDTV. You mentioned how India's footprint has expanded globally since 2014. My question specifically pertains to the Middle East region. How has India's diplomacy towards the Middle East changed since 2014, and what achievements can be highlighted in this regard?
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: Ek toh jo aapne jo vishay uthaya jo naye sansad mai jo naksha jo dikhaya gaya, mere khayal se hamare pravakta jo hain ispe tippani kar chuke hain, am I correct? Ke unhone kaha ki ye agar aap usi ke niche woh kuch signboard jaisa kuch laga hua hain, usmai likha hain ki ye I think you can read it, my recollection ye kuch Ashokan empire ka description hain. Toh ye ek ethihasik, but jo likha hain, it says, it depicts the spread of the Ashokan Empire in the idea of responsible and people oriented governance that he adapted. Toh isko mujhe nahi lagta ke rajnitik vishay banna hi chahiye. Aur jo hamare mitra desh jo hain woh samjhenge, agar kahin kuch unko clerification chahiye to mujhe lagta hain usmai koi badi baat nahi hain. aur jo mujhe jo bataya gaya hain wo samjh chuke hain. Ab pakistan ka toh aap chhod hi dijiye kyuki wahan na samajhne ki aasha hain na hamare yahan -- ab main kya kahu aapko? Par jo PoK ka vishay hain wo alag vishay hain, kyuki PoK mai jo hain hamara stand bahot clear hain aur ye khali sarkar ka stand nahi hain ye pure desh ka stand hain, parliament ka stand hain. Toh ye parliament ka stand hain to usmein koi change karne ki possibility nahi hain.
[Answer in Hindi – Approximate Translation] Firstly, regarding the subject you brought up, the map displayed in the new Parliament building, I believe our Spokesperson has already commented on it, am I correct? It was mentioned that if you look below that map, there is something like a signboard that reads, I think you can read it, as per my recollection - it depicts the spread of the Ashokan Empire and the idea of responsible and people-oriented governance that he adopted. So, I don't think it should be seen as a political matter at all. Our friendly nations will understand it, and if they need any clarification, I don't think it's a big issue. And as I have been informed, they have already understood. As for Pakistan, let's leave it aside because there is no hope for them to understand, and neither we – now what should I say to you? However, the issue of PoK is a separate matter because our stand on PoK is very clear. It is not just the government's stand; it is the stand of the entire country, the stand of the Parliament. So, since it is the stand of the Parliament, there is no possibility of changing it.
Your question Zelenskyy and G20, look, in our view, G20 participation is for members of G20 and for the countries and organizations who we have invited to the G20. And that list we had declared as soon as we assumed the Presidency of the G20. So it is not something that we have reviewed. And it is not something very honestly which we have discussed with anybody.
The third question is for the Middle East. Agar jo main pichle dus saal ki safalata ki agar main baat kar raha hoon, toh Middle East ek aisa kshtra hain jahan ye aapko saaf dikhai deta hain ki agar aap gulf mai dekhain aise desh hain jahan mane saalon se hamare yahan se koi leadership visit nahi hui thi, aur jo hamare liye ek kisam se, hamare log wahan service karne jate the aur wahan se hum log petrol kharidte the, tel kharidte the. Toh pichle dus saal mai jo parivartan aaya hain ki political level mai ek to engagement badhi hain, bahot comfort hain, agar aaj hum duniya mai dekh kar apne mann mai sochte hain ki kahan desh hain jo hamain support karte hain usmai se bahot saare desh jo hain woh middle east ke desh hain. Aur Middle East ke desh agar hum dono jo hain MOS directly isko dekhte hain, mere khayal se gulf mai to hum, I think each one of us would have paid at least 2-3-4-5 visits, aur jo baki desh bhi jo hain, main khud Egypt gaya hoon, main Tunisia gaya hoon, I think you have been to Iraq, to Morrocco, Algeria, toh engegement unke sath badha hain rajnitik paripeskshya se hamare rishte jo hain aur nazdeek aaye hain. Agar aap trade dekhain toh wahan ek FTA bhi ho chuka hai UAE ke sath, vyapar bhi iss samay mai, pichle dus saal mai kafi badha hain. Toh main kahunga har drishtrikon se ye jarur ye area jo hain hamare liye ek kisam se successful diplomacy ka ek udaharan hain.
[Answer in Hindi – Approximate Translation] If I'm talking about the success of the past ten years, the Middle East is an area where it is evident… that if you look at the Gulf countries, there were countries where no leadership visits had taken place from our side for years. These were countries where our people went to work and we bought petrol, purchased oil. Over the past ten years, there has been a change. There has been increased political engagement and a great level of comfort. If we look around the world today and think about which countries support us, many of them are from the Middle East. And for the countries of the Middle East, both of us…MOS looks directly after them. And if we specifically look at the Gulf countries, I think each one of us must have made at least 2-3-4-5 visits. And even in other countries, I have personally been to Egypt and Tunisia, and I believe you have been to Iraq, Morocco, Algeria. Our engagement with these countries has increased, and our relationships have become closer through political interactions. In terms of trade, there is even an FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with the UAE, and trade has seen significant growth in the past ten years. So, from every perspective, this region serves as an example of successful diplomacy for us.
Sachin: Good morning, this is Sachin from Times of India. Minster, I just want to draw your attention to this press conference which was done by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, I think in early 2014 and he was asked a question about what was his biggest achievement as a Prime Minister, so he said, that the end of the Nuclear apartheid against India in the form of the nuclear deal with the US was his best moment as Prime Minister. So I was just wondering if you would like to pinpoint something as Prime Minister Modi's own best moment or the government's own best moment or standout achievement in terms of foreign policy. And just as a follow up to that, since we have already listed all the achievements which are quite impressive, I just want to ask you if there is any regret or disappointment about something that you could have achieved and it did not happen in the past nine years. For example, India is bid to become a membership, to get a membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The fact that it has not happened...
Madhurendra: Sir main Madhurendra News Nation se. Mera sawal LaC ko lekar hi hain. Aaj se ek hafte ke baad galwan ki ghatna ke tin saal pure ho rahain hain. Pichle tin saalon se agar dekha jaye to ek bada vivad aur narrative ke taur pe public mindset mai raha hain ke kya china ne hamari jamin par kabza kiya hain ki nahin? Uspe main chahunga aapka spatikaran ye jante hue ki do points pe disagreement hua hain, do point par abhi negotiation chal raha hain. Aur ek chota dusra sawal ye hain ki public outreach aaj se shuru ho raha hain aapka, toh kya paacha upalabdhiyon ko lekar public ke bich aap jayenge?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sir, I am Madhurendra from News Nation. My question is related to the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Today, after a week, three years will be completed since the Galwan incident. In the past three years, if we look at it, there has been a major debate and a narrative in the public mindset about whether China has captured our land or not. Considering that, I would like to seek your clarification on two points of disagreement and ongoing negotiations on two points. And a small second question is that your public outreach is starting today, so will you go among the public to discuss the achievements so far?
Aditya Raj Kaul: Mr. Jaishankar, Aditya Raj Kaul from TV9 Network. In the last nine years, we've seen a paradigm shift in Kashmir policy of the government of India. We've seen Article 370 abrogation and a lot of steps. Recently concluded successful G20 event. How do you see this? And do you think this is a turning point on how the global community and the international diaspora and several others, especially the West, sees Kashmir from a different lens? Because you just spoke about changing narratives and India actually shaping the narratives. So how important is this visit?
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: So let me start with Sachin. Look, you know, you said that Dr. Manmohan Singh at the end of his tenure said what he said. Prime Minister Modi has a long way to go in his tenure. So I'm sure as and when that arises, he will say what he has to say, but I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon. But if you were to ask me at this point of time, nine years into Modi government, what are all the changes? I think in a way, I tried to project that. I mean, I tried to project, frankly, a more self-assured country with a lot of changes happening, which is contributing more, which is caring more for its own people, people at home and people abroad, and which is communicating all of this very effectively with the rest of the world. So it isn't a single account and a single achievement in a way. I think there's been really very broad progress across multiple fields. And even though you should not have asked the second question, but on Security Council, look, you all know where is the resistance from, but I would say one change which has happened is if you today ask more and more countries today accept the need for reform, and frankly, feel if there's one country which should be there, it is India. I think even in this process as a potential candidate, our credibility has gone up in this period.
Jo aapka jo galwan wala sawal hain, dekhiye position jo hain ye bahot complicated hain, kyuki hamari fauz bhi, ek toh main aapko samjhana chahta hoon ki normally jo hain fauz jo bilkul LAC deploy nahi hoti, woh apne camp pe deploy hoti hain, camp se aage badhti hain. Jo 2020 ke baad jo change hua hain, kyu ki tension, tanaav ke karan dono side ne forward deployment ki, aur ye forward deployment ye mudda jo hain, hamain ye resolve karna hain. toh ye jo jis tarike se aapne jo ye prashna pucha ke jamin ka hain ya nahi hain, woh issue nahi hain, issue forward deployment ka hain, ki dono log bohot ek dusre ke bahot najdeek forward deployment kar rahain aur uske karan ye tanaav mane kahin hinsa ki taraf ja sakta hain, jaisa aapne galwan mai dekha tha.
[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Regarding your question about the Galwan incident, you see, the position is very complicated because our military, first of all, I want to explain to you that normally the military is not deployed exactly on the LAC, they are deployed in their camps and they move forward from their camps. What has changed after 2020 is that due to tensions and stress, both sides have conducted forward deployments, and this issue of forward deployment is what we need to resolve. So, the question you asked about the land, whether it belongs to us or not, is not the issue. The issue is about forward deployment, where both sides are deploying very close to each other, and this proximity can escalate tensions towards violence, as we witnessed in Galwan.
Aapka sawal jo hain anuched 370 wala, on Kashmir, first of all, I do think that what was done in 2019 was a very, very crucial step and a long-awaited step for national security. Because in a way, you know, we can, I mean, it's a long story and you know this better than me, why 370 was kept beyond what was supposed to be its shelf life. But the bottom line was, I'm now giving you a kind of a diplomatic perspective. The whole world used it against us. You know, they saw it as a point of vulnerability. They saw it as something they should keep pressing and keep using and keep turning as a way of keeping India off balance. Now, if we don't get it right, how do you expect the world to get it right? So for us, you know, the first thing was to remediate at home. And that is what we did in 2019. Now, once you sorted it out at home, then the question was how do you, how then does the world react to it? Now, even when 370 happened and, you know, fact was in 2019, we had to actually, when I speak about strategic communication, as a foreign ministry, as a minister myself at that time, we spent a lot of time getting people to understand what it was about. And our biggest problem was a lot of, frankly, false narratives of propaganda, much of which originated in our own country. So we had to deal with that. And I think we dealt with it. And because we dealt with it today, you know, if you go around the world today and ask people, you know, sort of, when it comes to India, what are your concerns, you will find more and more people actually will say that's kind of, you know, that's not something which is a live issue because we were the people who kept it as a live issue. So to me, what happened in G20 is just one example. But I would like to see, quite honestly, more investment there, more foreign tourists there. I would, you know, I see no reason why Jammu and Kashmir should be denied the benefits not only of development but of globalization that the rest of India has experienced. I think it is their right and I think we should promote that very strongly.
Huma Siddiqui: Sir, I'm Huma Siddiqui from the Financial Express. In your opening statement, you did not mention anything about the Latin American region except the ferry to Guyana. And so in that context, I just wanted to understand, is India looking at buying crude from Venezuela any time soon?
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: Sorry? Buying crude from Venezuela?
Huma Siddiqui: Venezuela. And any other countries where you are expanding buying crude in the region.
Sidhant: Sir Sidhant from WION. Sir, my question to you is, the Canadian NSA has said that India has been interfering in their domestic politics. Your reaction to this comment by the Canadian NSA?
Kallol: Kallol from The Hindu, sir. Sir, one of your first policies, one of the first policies of the Modi government was the Act East policy. Today, we see what's happening in Manipur. Do you think the developments in Manipur have basically negatively impacted that policy?
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: So, Latin America. You know, I didn't mention many regions and I would not in any way like you or anybody else to think we are less invested in that region simply because there was no explicit remark by me. You know, when again, I've spoken about different parts of the world where all of us have been far more active starting with Prime Minister himself and the intensity of our visits, the projects, the trade, the political cooperation. Each one of this applies in full measure to Latin America. I myself have done two trips, one where I did Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, one which I did Colombia, Guyana, Panama, and Dominican Republic. In fact, I must tell you, even to me, it came as a surprise that the last four countries, no foreign minister in our history had ever been there. Even Mexico, I found that the last foreign minister went there were Narasimha Rao. So, there have been big gaps in our engagement with other regions and to be very frank, it affects our credibility. How can you export support from a country which nobody has even bothered to go and visit?
So, it is taxing, but if we are trying to develop a global footprint, because that is also a point I want to make. When Prime Minister speaks about Amrit Kaal and where we will be, a large part of it is development of the country. The foreign policy part of it is to develop a global footprint in those 25 years. So, you remember in 2015, I think he used the word first time towards becoming a leading power. That was the foreign policy trailer of his Amrit Kaal goal. So, we today want to be much more and Meenakshi Ji, I think, has made multiple trips as well to Latin America. So, our idea really is to see, you know, we would not, I mean, I cannot say we would like to cover every country in the world, but we would certainly like to cover as many countries at a ministerial level. You know, the four of us need to do as much as we can and we are working very hard at it. But if you look at the progress, today our trade with Latin America is coming close to $50 billion. Now, I, relatively speaking, you know, if you look at various big trade accounts, you know, China, ASEAN, et cetera, mostly our big trade accounts are $100 billion plus. So, already, you know, there is a big push and, you know, when you go there, I mean, I took a business delegation as well with me. I mean, I see a great deal of interest in Indian business in being out there, specifically oil imports. Look, Venezuela, first of all, Venezuela had its own complication because there were secondary sanctions and the oil importing companies take their own call when it comes to secondary sanctions. But Latin America, I know our investments in Brazil have increased. When I was there, in fact, an expanded agreement was signed. There are a lot of new finds in Latin America. I think there is a lot of interest in looking at that.
Your question, Sidhant, about the Canadian NSA's remark. You know, I was, what shall I say, okay, the phrase which came to my mind was actually a Hindi phrase, which was "Ulta Chor Kotwal Ko dante". I mean, if anybody has a complaint, we have a complaint about Canada. You know, what I said earlier, the space that they're giving to Khalistanis and to violent extremists. So I was very perplexed by what I heard.
The Act East, look, what has happened with the East, and again, you know, my colleague, Dr. Ranjan, would bear me out. He is himself from Manipur. I mean, where Act East is concerned in the last nine years, there's been an upgrade in the sense there have been deeper investments, more projects. We do much more on security. Earlier on, the focus was, you know, let's do mainly economics. I think connectivity, security, deeper people-to-people collaboration, stronger political collaboration. I think these have been the new facets, really, which have been added in the last nine years. I think what is happening in Manipur is largely an issue of Manipur. And I think in that part of the world, people do understand that. So I would not really mix apples and oranges here. I think the Act East policy, the progress of the Act East policy, which has been quite considerable in the nine years, I think will continue. And hopefully, the situation in Manipur will also ameliorate.
Rishikesh: Hi, sir. Rishikesh from The Press Trust of India. So my question is, over the issue of extradition of people indulged in financial fraud or imperialism, we haven't seen much success in the last four years. So my question is, what are the reasons behind this, and can we see much success in the coming months, especially ahead of our 24 elections?
Neeraj: Sir, Neeraj hoon News18 India se. Aapne kaha ki bharat aur china ke bich LAC masle ke baad forward deployment ka masla hain. Aur Rahul Gandhi ke bare mai aapne ye bhi kaha ki gharelu morche par apni baat rakhni chahiye na ki videsh ki dharti par. Woh baar baar gharelu morche par ek baat kehte hain ki chine ne bharat ke ek bade bhubhag par kabza kar liya hain. Pichle nau saal mai agar forward deployment issue ko chhod de toh uske alawa aap keh sakte hain ki china ne bharat ki jamin par kabza nahi kiya hain? Ya phir Rahul Gandhi niradhar bayan de rahain hain?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sir, This is Neeraj from News18 India. You mentioned that the issue of forward deployment has risen after the LAC dispute between India and China. And regarding Rahul Gandhi, you also mentioned that one should present their opinion on domestic platforms rather than on foreign soil. He repeatedly mentions an issue on domestic platforms, that China has captured a large portion of Indian land. If one excludes the issue of forward deployment in the past nine years, then aside from that, can you say that China has not captured Indian land? Or is Rahul Gandhi making baseless statements?
Manash Pratim Bhuyan: Sir, this is Manash Pratim Bhuyan from PTI, Press Trust of India. Sir, India's relations with United States and Russia, we have seen significant upswing in the last few years, actually, about which then the current geopolitical turmoil as well as big power competitions. So how do you characterize this? And going forward, do you think, in fact, if the conflict between West and Asia, or the overall conflict, great power competition, widens such an approach, sustainable, sir? And one more just added question is that, I mean, in the BRICS Cape Town Declaration, it was mentioned that, I mean, the countries are looking for a mediation proposal. So would you like to just...
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Mediation? It's a different question.
Manash Pratim Bhuyan: Yeah.
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: The first question jo aapka jo extradition wala question tha. No, there are pending extradition requests with many countries. You know, there can be financial fraud, there can be terrorism, there can be crimes of various kinds. Now, you have to understand, generally speaking with everybody, extradition has a very high bar. I mean, you have to show proof and meet certain legal standards, including of that country. What I can say is, we have been pushing many cases. Some cases are more high-profile than other cases. You can see the progress. You can see the progress in their systems, that the cases are going to one level of court, next level of court, you know, and it is proceeding towards an extradition. We have had a few cases. Obviously, in some of the high-profile cases, we are waiting for those to come to the conclusion. You asked, can I put a timeline on it? I cannot put a timeline on it, because it is dependent on legal processes of other countries. But what I can say is, we will spare no effort in this direction. And, you know, again, a lot of this extradition is routed through, because the actual extradition process, the documents, etc., are all done by us. I mean, it's obviously the concerned agency or the ministry here, but MEA is very much involved in it, and, you know, we are giving it our fullest effort.
Jo aapka sawal tha china ke bare mai. Dekhiye Rahul Gandhi ji jo hain bahot sari chizain kehte hain aur main manta hoon rajniti mai log kehte hain. Ab unhone ye bhi kaha ki dekhiye wo Pangong Tso mai pul bana hain, ab pul bana hain toh wo aise jagah bana hain jo china ne 1962 mai kabza kiya tha. Toh phir kuch log congress party se kehne lag gaye ki aapke arunachal mai ek model village bana hain. Agar aap dekhain, parliament ke record dekhain, ye jagah yongzoo jo hain china ne 1959 kabza kiya tha. To dekhiye China jo hain 1950 se bharat ke zameen pe kabza kar chuka hain. Main point hain ki jo LAC mai jo hai, LAC ki patroling hoti hain, humari fauz jo hain patroling base se nikal ke patroling kar ke base pe wapis chali jati hain. 2020 ke baad ye nahi hua kyu ki jab unhone wo do agreements 1993 aur 1996 agrements ka ullaghan karke bahot badi matra mai fauz laye to patroling karke wapas jane ke bajay hamain foward deployment karna pada. Abhi problem kya hain, forward deployment ki problem hain, ki hum dono forward deployed hain. aur forward deployment, jaise main samjhaya usi se toh tension paida hoti hain.
[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Regarding your question about China, you see, Rahul Gandhi makes a lot of statements, and I understand that in politics, people tend to make statements. Now, he has mentioned that look, China has built a bridge in Pangong Tso. Now this bridge is constructed in an area that China captured in 1962. Then, some people from the Congress party started pointing out that a model village has been built in Arunachal Pradesh. If you look at the records of Parliament, this place called Yongzoo, China captured it in 1959. So, you see, China has already occupied Indian land since 1950. The main point is that along the LAC, there is patrolling, where our military goes out from their bases, patrol, and then returns to base. After 2020, this changed because when they violated the 1993 and 1996 agreements and brought a large number of troops, instead of patrolling and returning, we had to resort to forward deployment. The problem now is the issue of forward deployment because both sides are forward deployed. And as I explained earlier, tension arises from forward deployment itself.
You know, India-US has really come a long way, and there are many, many reasons for it. Each reason is a solid reason in itself. You know, you can look in this period the size of the community growth. You can look at the technology part of the relationship. You can look at the trade of the relationship. You can look at the political convergence that we have, and you can look at the strategic interests. So, I think there's a very compelling case for stronger and stronger India-US relations, bilaterally, in the Quad, in I2-U2, and maybe in other formats also. Now, we are, you know, in this business, we all know each other. We all know what the interests of our countries are, what their relationship with other countries are. I take all that into account. Now, because US has some tension or contradiction or problem with some other country, why should I let go of my interest? I am building American relationship in my interest. If they have a problem with somebody else, they have a problem. In fact, who knows, maybe sometimes the problem may even help me to advance my interest.
Naveen: Hello, sir. Naveen Kapoor from ANI. Sir, can you give us a sense of status of India-Afghanistan relations, any kind of, you know, beginning of engagement, minimal engagement with them? Can you just throw a light on that?
Maha Siddiqui: Sir, Maha Siddiqui from NDTV. Sir, with the Ukraine war nowhere close to an end and in fact taking a critical turn with critical infrastructure being targeted now and the G20 summit less than three months away, do you believe that having a consensus on the leader's declaration will be a herculean task or a near impossible task?
Abhishek Jha: Abhishek Jha from CNN News 18. My question is regarding Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's recent visit to USA. He is reportedly visit White House and he has had a meeting also with somebody. In which capacity Rahul Gandhi has met people in White House and also, was MEA aware of his upcoming visit to White House?
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: Afghanistan. Look, we have a technical… you know, we pulled back the India-based diplomats and staff after Taliban took control of Kabul. Because at that time we had legitimate security concerns. A lot of other countries also did it. With the passage of time, we have sent back a technical team to the Embassy. They have been there for some time. And their job is essentially in a sense to monitor the situation and to see how we can support the Afghan people in their hour of need, you can say in a manner. Because they have... I mean, this is a country which had vaccine shortage, it had wheat shortage, it had medicine shortage, it had... You know, there are projects there which will get into difficulty in the passage of time. So the focus right now in Afghanistan is less, I would say, political. It is more like helping the Afghan people, because Afghan people are people with whom we have a historical connect. So that is really the current state of the situation.
The second question, your question about G20. You know, look, I remember last year, there were a lot of challenges in getting the final G20 declaration. And I, in fact, commended even then the Indonesian Presidency for making that big effort and getting the Bali Declaration. But I would also share with you that even at that time, a lot of us worked alongside with Indonesia. That, you know, obviously, Indonesia was the chair, but we were part of a troika. And there were some countries who were not even members of troika, but who had an interest in the manner. And all of us put our collective energies together in that regard. If my memory serves me right, last year, in fact, in September, I went to Moscow. And one of the main reasons I went to Moscow at that time was really to discuss this with my Russian counterpart. So this year, you know, we are endeavoring to find a common landing point. There are differences of opinion even about what was agreed to in Bali last year. So how do we handle it? It's very hard for me. I mean, you know, diplomats are still working at it. So I don't want to predict. I don't want to sort of, in a way, give too much details. I mean, I accept your point that it's a challenge. But, you know, diplomacy is a business for optimistic people. So I think it's something that we would look at.
And that last question which you asked, I can't believe you're serious. But, you know, I mean, look, if Rahul Gandhi goes somewhere, I mean, that is Rahul Gandhi's call. You know, why would I have sort of, to get involved in it at all? So I don't even know, frankly, what he did or what he didn't do in respect of what you said.
Rishabh: Afternoon, sir. Rishabh from Times Now. So enough of Rahul Gandhi’s US visit. Our Prime Minister is visiting US next coming weeks. What will be on table? And is Prime Minister also visiting any other country around US visit?
Suhasini Haidar: Suhasini Haidar from The Hindu. I wanted to ask External Affairs Minister on the subject of Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former naval commander who is in prison in Pakistan, as well as the eight former naval officers in prison in Qatar. The question really is, it's been nearly a year since the Qatar incident happened. It's been several years since Kulbhushan Jadhav remains in prison in Pakistan. Has the Government given up on diplomatic options in order to have these Indians brought home safely? I refer not just to discussions at high levels, but also to creative options we've seen in the past in the Cold War between the US and Russia, for example, of exchange of prisoners. Thank you.
Sidhant: Sir, I'm Sidhant from CNN News 18. So my question is regarding the recent US congressional committee report, which deals with China-related issues. And the report recommends strengthening NATO Plus by including India. I want to know your position.
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: So the first question was prime minister's visit. What are your expectations? My sense is that usually a Prime Ministerial visit is an occasion, really, for both countries to focus on, of course, intensifying the relationship for the cooperation. And the tendency normally to pick a few issues and prioritize on them. Foreign Secretary has just come back yesterday night from US, and he held some discussions there. In the coming days, we are expecting some incoming visitors from the US as well. So we are working in that direction. Now, what eventually comes out, and that's really tough to predict. And even if I could, I'll spoil your fun if I did that. So I think I'll hold it till then. Would he go to another visit? I think usually Prime Minister's visit, we kind of keep working on his schedule. And then Arindam has the pleasure of sharing that at the right time with all of you.
Suhasini your question about Kulbhushan Jadhav and the Qatar case. They're very different cases, first of all. I mean, in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, our view was that he was kidnapped by the Pakistanis. And he's been held in violation of a judgment of the ICJ. So I think the law is very clear, and we have to now see how to take that forward. The Qatar case is different. My understanding is that there have been three hearings so far. I think a fourth one is due sometime later this month. Even the full nature of the charges are not entirely clear to us. But what we are doing is we are giving the strongest possible support to the concerned people, including the legal representation, because we believe that their rights should be fully protected. And in a situation like this, I think they are entitled to the strongest possible support. Now your question, will there be any diplomacy around it? Look, I never ruled that out, even as a general proposition. Because as I said, a large part of our outlook today is really, I mean, if Indian citizens are in difficulties of any kind. And these are two very exceptional situations. I would say it is in the DNA of this Government that we should do whatever we can, whether they are Indian students, which was your question, or Indian military officers, or just anybody else, or people in the Gulf who often face charges.
The third question on the Congressional committee recommending NATO Plus, one of the challenges of a changing world is how do you get people to accept and adjust to those changes? Even today, not just with this committee, I see this in analysis of various kinds and writings of people. A lot of Americans still have that NATO treaty construct in their heads. So any situation they deal with, they use that like a, it seems almost like that's the only sort of template with which, or only viewpoint with which they look at the world. The reality is, that is not a template that applies to India. So I must say, a lot of it is actually outside the administration. The administration understands this very, very well. So we have a situation where actually in many areas, the administration has been very forthright, very understanding, very cooperative. And sometimes people mean well. In this case, I think they mean well. They really want to signal, saying let's do more with India. It's just they use the terminology because that is what is in their habit. So I would not go so much by the terminology. I would only appreciate the fact that a Congressional panel has the sentiment to want to do more with India. I think that's a very good thing.
Nayanima Basu: Thank you for doing this, Minister. I am Nayanima Basu from ABP Live. Just one question, sir. This is the first time India became chair of the SCO, and this is a proud moment for us. Why is the decision taken to hold it in a virtual format? Thank you.
Vijayalakshmi: Sir Vijayalakshmi hoon main India TV se. Sir aapne Canada ko lekar ke baat ki ki kis tarah se wahan par extremist and separatist elements hain, lekin agar pro-Khalistani elements ki baat ki jaye toh US, Australia, abhi Rahul Gandhi jo congress mai vipakshya ke neta hain, unke bhi event mai khalistan zindabad ke naare lage. Kya ye ek bharat sarkar ke liye chinta ka vishay hain? aur kaise isko deal karne k liye aap soch rahe hain?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] I am Vijayalakshmi from India TV. Sir, you talked about Canada and the presence of extremist and separatist elements there. If we talk about pro-Khalistani elements, there have been instances of slogans like ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ being raised in US, Australia and even in events attended by Rahul Gandhi, who is currently an opposition leader in the Congress party. Is this a matter of concern for the Indian Government? And how do you plan to deal with it?
Shailesh Kumar: Namaskar, sir. Shailesh Kumar from National Defense. Sir, though you have spoken about it, but Mr. Rahul Gandhi has categorically stated in his last visit, the recent visit, that China has occupied 1500 square kilometers of India's territory. That is equal to the size of Delhi. This is not the first time he said, he said earlier, too. And since you said that it's not a territory issue, it's a forward movement issue.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Excuse me, A, keep it small. And B, I think, Minister has answered this question already.
Shailesh Kumar: So, is this a matter of concern as it’s an election year? So can this escalate to any kind of military conflict if it is not resolved diplomatically?
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: See, first one was yours, SCO? Look, I don't think today, in this day and age, whether you do a virtual meeting or a physical meeting, I don't think one is considered as necessarily less or more than the other. I think it's a call you take depending on who is coming, what is your situation. There are a lot of factors which go into it. So I would not like you to, in any way, think that this detracts from our seriousness and from our commitment to the SCO. I think our SCO Presidency has a lot of achievements to show for it. And I assure you when the virtual summit takes place. You will see that in full flow.
Jo dusra sawal jo tha wo Khalistan wala jo tha, see, it’s not just in Canada. Maine kabhi nahi kaha ki, it is only in Canada. We are as opposed to it. Many of you have heard me criticize the UK authorities for the lack of protection to the High Commission when Khalistani supporters took down our flag. We had some issues in Australia as well. So our point is this. Look, they are a very small minority. We do not believe that they represent any significant body of opinion. Our plea to these governments is, look, please understand. These are marginal elements. They are extremist elements. They're not good for you. They're not good for us. They're not good for the relationship. It's not a message limited to Canada. Canada came up because you people raised it and because certain things have happened recently in Canada. So if it were not Canada, if it had happened somewhere else, I would honestly say the same thing.
The last issue. Look, if you're talking territory, I have a problem with what 38,000 square kilometers of territory. Again, people make out as though something is happening now. It has been happening for a period of time. And we need to focus on what our border infrastructure is. How do we deploy our military? How do we maintain that deployment out there? And a lot of our forward deployment problems are because border was so badly neglected. I mean, I don't want to go into those famous statements that our best defense is neglect of the border so that other people can't come forward. But the result was our own troops were very severely, I would say, disadvantaged when they had to respond. And today, if you look, the average border infrastructure budget till 2014 was less than 4,000 crores. Today, it is 14,000 crores. If you look at road, you look at tunneling. You look at bridges. I mean, it's gone up twice, thrice, four times. Look at even the equipment for our military. So instead, actually, we had even people trying to build border infrastructure, you remember all those environmental problems, clearances, which earlier on became an issue. So I think there are real issues here. And you should see it in totality. Look, I honestly feel there are certain issues where it's important for the country to have a serious debate. It's not my case, everybody should agree with me on every issue. But it should be a serious debate. It should not become a kind of a point-scoring exercise because, at the end of it all, in the rest of the world, we don't look good.
Geeta Mohan: Geeta Mohan from India Today. Another question on China. This is satellite images that India Today has accessed, which shows that it's the middle sector in Uttarakhand where structures have come up from the Chinese side. Now, this is about 100 structures raised over a period of one month, 40 kilometers away from Pulam Sumda in Uttarakashi.
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: Not on the Chinese side?
Geeta Mohan: Not on the Chinese side.
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: Sorry?
Geeta Mohan: Uttarakhand. Not on the Chinese side. By the Chinese forces on the Indian side in Uttarakhand, in the middle sector. 40 kilometers away from Pulam Sumda in Uttarakashi, such structures showing up between April and May, 2022. Are you aware of these structures that have come up? And what's your response?
Ramananda Sengupta: Sir Ramananda Sengupta from StratNews Global. If you were to sort of set aside China, would you like to share with us what you see as a couple of major foreign policy challenges that India faces here, that you see as a major problem?
Parikshit: Sir I am Parikshit from CNBC. Just wanted to ask you about the Prime Minister's upcoming visit to the United States. The war, COVID has shown that supply chain is very closely linked to national security, and more than ever before. When it comes to semiconductors, we had signed an MOU during the visit of Gina Raimondo. What steps will be taken to further elevate the partnership between India and US on semiconductors? How will that play a part in the larger conversation we're having with the United States on critical and emerging technologies?
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: Look, I must admit, I have not specifically seen what India Today has put out. But my understanding is that a lot of the infrastructure reporting has been done is with reference to the Chinese side of the LAC. That is my understanding.
What are the largest…you know other than China and Pakistan? See, in a sense, you can say it's a very intangible issue, but it's actually a very important issue. And this issue is the rise of India. The rise of India in terms of our economic size. I mean, we are fifth today; we will be third very soon - the influence, the globalization of people. You know, you have today a little less than two crore Indians who work abroad, somewhere between one and a half to two crore Indians. About one and a half to two crore people of Indian origin who live abroad. You have to look at challenges like technology and what it means for security. I mean, in a sense, I'm coming to his question, because today, your security can be breached without anybody crossing your border. So what does the rise of India mean, and how do we rise? And as I said, you know, the challenge which Prime Minister has posed to all of us is - imagine Amrit Kaal next 25 years. What will you do to achieve your goals? And for us, in the field of foreign policy and national security, that has got its own issues. So we are today trying to, in a sense, build the strengths, create the capabilities within the country. That's why, to me, domestic changes are so important. Because if you don't close the gender gap, eventually that means you will not get enough women into the workplace, which will impact not just your social growth, it will impact your economic growth as well. If you do not build infrastructure, you will not be competitive. If you do not invest in manufacturing, we will not have the deep strengths, we'll be dependent on other countries. So I would define foreign policy today is how do I set the right relationships, the optimal positioning, have the maximum number of friends, the least number of problems, and how do I accelerate national development so that in 25 years I'm well on my way to becoming a leading power. Now, this may sound like a lot of sentences, but each one of it will translate. I mean, everything I told you, which we have done for nine years, is actually aimed at exactly that. I mean, if we are today investing in Latin America and in Africa, one part of it is South-South solidarity. But one part of it is also because we know we will be global. You know, that time will come. I mean, that is the confidence really the Prime Minister has instilled in this country. So, we are preparing for that.
The last question on the semiconductor…Yes, there are continuing conversations on semiconductor. It's not just a question of agreements and how do you upgrade the agreements. There are many aspects of it. There are export control aspects of it. There are business aspects of it. At the end of the day, remember, it's not the government which is going to build the semiconductor industry. It is a business, and the business has to be enabled. It has to have the access, the technology access to do that. And those are bits and pieces really on which we are working. But you know, I'm linking it to my previous answer. Today, trusted collaboration is one of the important areas of our foreign policy, especially with North America, US specifically, and with European Union and with Japan. It's also, by the way, a very important part of what the Quad is doing.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Sir, thank you very much, sir. You've been extremely and particularly generous with your time, sir. I think we've had more than 30 questions. I can't imagine an occasion where we've had that opportunity, sir. Also, my grateful thanks to Honorable Minister of State, Shri V. Muraleedharan, Smt. Meenakashi Lekhi, Shri R.R. Singh, as well as Foreign Secretary sir, Shri Vinay Kwatra, and as well as to the Secretary (East), Shri Saurabh Kumar, Secretary (CPV & OIA), Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (ER), Shri Dammu Ravi, and Special Secretary (ER and DPA).
Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister: Since it's, in a way, a nine-year report card, and I suspect this time of the year, next year, we will probably be busy in other things. What I wanted to do was also really to take the opportunity to highlight, really, how strong Team MEA has been, not just the people who are sitting on the table. If you think back at these nine years, and two and a half of those went for COVID, we sometimes joke that other people learnt to work from home. In MEA, we learnt to live from office. So we kept MEA going through this whole period. When you look at the Vande Bharat Mission, the Vaccine Maitri, the Operation Ganga, Operation Kaveri, I must tell you, there were people who took personal risks to make it happen. So I also would like… I think it's only fair, that at the end of the report card, a little bit, also should be said to the people who actually make it happen, and the press conference would not be complete without that.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you again, sir. Thank you very much, everyone. Thank you for joining.