STATE TIMES NEWS
New Delhi: India’s rise will evoke its own reactions and responses, and there will be attempts to dilute the country’s influence and limit its interests, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Sunday.
Delivering the second Manohar Parrikar memorial lecture, Jaishankar also said that as India expands its global interests and reach, there is an even more compelling case to focus on its hard power.
The external affairs minister said the national security challenges being faced by the “rising India” are obviously going to be different and emphasised on having greater integration and convergence between the foreign and military policies.
In a veiled reference to Pakistan, Jaishankar said a long-standing political rivalry is today expressed as sustained cross border terrorism by a neighbour even as he enumerated security challenges emanating from long borders as well as large maritime spaces.
“The world is a competitive place and India’s rise will evoke its own reactions and responses. There will be attempts to dilute our influence and limit our interests. Some of these contestations can be directly in the security domain, others could be reflected in economics, connectivity even in societal context,” he said.
The external affairs minister, delving into the broad spectrum of security challenges facing India, said it cannot disregard attempts to undermine the national integrity and unity.
“There are really very few major states that still have unsettled borders to the extent that we do. Of equal relevance is the very very unique challenge that we face of years of intense terrorism inflicted on us by a neighbour. We also cannot disregard attempts to undermine our national integrity and unity,” he said.
“And over and above these exceptional factors, there are the daily security challenges of long borders and large sea spaces. The thinking and planning of a polity that operates in such an uncertain environment naturally should give primacy to hard security,” he said.
Jaishankar further said the era of “unconstrained military conflicts” may be behind us but the reality of limited wars and coercive diplomacy is still very much a fact of life.
Talking about India’s growing global stature, Jaishankar said the country’s “relationship with the world” cannot be the same as when its ranking was much lower. “Our stakes in the world have certainly become higher and correspondingly so have the expectations of us. Simply put India matters more and our world view must process that in all its aspects,” he said. He added: “On the big global issues of our times, whether we speak of climate change or trade flows or health concerns or data security, India’s positioning has more influence on the eventual outcome.”
Jaishankar also elaborated on “conceptual changes” witnessed in Indian foreign policy since 2014 and said much of that was influenced by the growing understanding of the different world.
In terms of the neighbourhood first policy, he said the new approach envisaged a generous and non-reciprocal engagement of neighbours that was centred around connectivity, contacts and cooperation.
He said the “enhanced importance” of India to the daily life of its neighbourhood will clearly build stronger regionalism but added that it was also one that is clearly predicated on mutual sensitivity and mutual respect for each other’s interests.
The external affairs minister also talked about evolving geo-political developments around the world including the salience of China, repositioning of the US, Brexit, intra-European Union politics, the Abraham accords signed by Israel, the challenges faced by Africa and the evolution of the Indo-Pacific. “We have actually seen sharp shifts in the basic stance and behaviour of nations and their interplay with each other. Some of these have unfolded more visibly in the last year, but its contours were evident even before. “The salience of China and repositioning of the US are perhaps two sharpest examples. But there are many others of great consequences, whether we speak of Brexit or intra EU politics, the Abraham accords and the dynamics of the Gulf, the challenges faced by Africa, the ideological debates we have seen in Latin America, or the evolution of the Indo-Pacific, each of these are in their own way reflection of larger rebalancing and emergence of multipolarity,” he said.