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External Affairs Minister’s remarks on the topic ‘Preparing for a Different Era ’ at Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington D.C. (October 01, 2019)

October 01, 2019

Dr. John Hamre: I'm looking for Rick Ross, he was going to introduce the speaker but I will do that and I just want to say a word of welcome to all of you. Thank you for coming. We always start public events with safety announcements. So Rick if he doesn't show up I'm responsible for your safety and we'll take care of you. If you hear a voice exit - we're going to go to these exits right behind me. I am not worried about the foreign minister, he's got help. I am delighted to have you here today especially this opportunity to listen to the foreign minister, he was the ambassador here in Washington and we're very fortunate that he has returned. He's come back to be voice to help us understand. You know in this trajectory is a very important message that India is bringing to the world right now and we're very fortunate this is the only event that he agreed to do with a public format. So I ask you all to be enthusiastic with your promise and please welcome Foreign Minister of India.

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Dr. Hamre, dear friends, it’s good to be back and I am delighted to see so many familiar faces in front of me. The topic that I chose for my talk today was ‘Preparing for a different era’ because I am sure all of you would agree that we are, if not in a different era, certainly moving towards one. And I thought I'd share with you both, a sense of how we see the world and how we propose to engage with that world which we see.

Now we do live in tumultuous times and you would all agree that this is a far cry from the mantras of globalization that we heard just a few years ago. The primary characteristics of the world politics today are the rebalancing of the global economy and polity as well as the sharpening contradiction between the United States and China. Both powers are engaging today in a manner very different from their past. Whatever the outcomes of their current arguments, their behavior will impact the rest of the world very significantly. It will change and probably in time create new approaches to global affairs.

The tilt, till recently was firmly in the opposite direction, the world was not only more interlinked in its activities but also in its thinking. Technology was supposed to be the great promise that we could see and the world was more connected with each passing day. The default solution to any significant challenge whether promoting trade, addressing climate change or responding to terrorism was through shared endeavors. However, all that has started to change.

It is not that they did not exist before but national and global interests were usually reconciled through a network of agreements, mechanisms and practices. Between nation states and international community stood intermediaries, alliances, regional structures of likeminded partners. But this world evolving steadily since 1945 stands eroded today by the disenchantment with globalization, anger at mercantilism and an inability to accept changes. Its three key principles that we have taken for granted- access to global markets, value of global supply chains and reliance on global skills mobility- are all under stress. Players are moreover multiplying even as rules are weakening. The world order is visibly changed but the new one is not yet in sight. Perhaps there will be none for quite some time. Getting used to operating in this indeterminate zone is probably the first challenge of contemporary developments.

Now the globalized world is multi-dimensional and its different facets support each other. It builds on the constructs of earlier periods, be it the colonial era, the Cold War or even the unipolar world. Identifying common ground and nurturing transnational linkages are most vigorously expressed in economic activities especially over recent decades, a vast range of understandings and regimes were created that covered most aspects of our lives. As technology and economics threw up new domains, we responded by fashioning rules for them too. While the practical world of business provided the bedrock of independence, of interdependence, multilateral rules and institutions decided how these businesses actually ran. Between arbitrating competitive interests and overseeing global commons, they created the basis for reconciling national demands. However imperfect or even unfair it may have been, multilateralism was, till recently, the best game in town. But then this too is enveloped in the tectonic shifts underway.

Once globalization comes under attack, all its facets are subject to pressure. Opposition to globalized business will naturally undermine its governing rules and affect the institutions that oversee it. A self-centered worldview does not have place for commitments that do not serve immediate goals. The structural impact on the global order of these developments are likely to be visible over the next generation that would have many dimensions- each one of them itself is a factor of disruption. The most obvious one is that the world will be increasingly multipolar as distribution of power broadens and alliance discipline dilutes and India or a Brazil will demand a greater voice with a growing economy. A Germany and a Japan cannot be impervious to changes in American thinking.

Secondly a more nationalistic approach to international relations will weaken multilateral rules in many domains. This will be particularly sharp in respect of economic interests and sovereignty concerns. Developments pertaining to the WTO or the law of seas are not good signs. This prospect of stronger multipolarity with weaker multilateralism clearly suggests a more volatile near-term. Third, such a world is also likely to fall back on balance of power as its operating principle rather than collective security or a broader consensus. History has demonstrated that this approach usually produces unstable equilibriums.

Fourth, world affairs will see a proliferation of frenemies, they will emerge in both categories, allies who publicly turn on each other or competitors who are compelled to make common cause on issues. Fifth, more transactional ethos will promote ad hoc groupings of disparate nations who have a shared interest on a particular issue. This could be supported by requirements or burden-sharing and the need to reach out beyond alliance structures. Finally, the combination of these developments will encourage more regional and local balances with less global influence on their working.

Put together it does appear that the world's creativity and diplomatic skills are really going to be tested. Now even if contradictions between China and the West sharpen, it is difficult to foresee a return to a bipolar world and the reason for that is that the landscape has now changed irreversibly. Other nations are independently on the move. Including India, half the 20 largest economies of the world are non-western now, diffusion of technology and demographic differentials will also contribute to the broader spread of influence. We see forces at play that reflect the relative primacy of local equations when the global construct is less overbearing.The reality is that the space yielded by the West has been filled by many players, not just China. Furthermore, both the US and China have a use for third parties and the politics of the day will drive multipolarity even faster. The beneficiaries will be the G20 powers and those at that level. Powers who already have prior advantages like Russia, France and UK will probably get a fresh impetus. Some like India can aspire to an improved position, others like Germany could increase the weight through collective endeavors but this would also be a world of a Brazil or a Japan, of a Turkey or Iran or Saudi Arabia or an Australia- each having a greater say in their vicinity and perhaps even beyond.

The dilution of Alliance discipline will only further facilitate this process. What will emerge is a more complex architecture characterized by different degrees of competition, convergence and coordination. It will be like playing Chinese checkers with many more participants but those who are still arguing over the rules. A multipolar world that is intensely competitive and driven by balance of power is not without its risks. Europe with its World War experiences is especially charry. Even dominant powers favored such balancing only as a specific solution not as a general approach. For that reason, International Relations envisage collective security as a safety net. Even if that did not always work broader consensus through wider consultations functioned as a plan-B.

Those most unsettled at the prospect of multipolarity with weaker rules are nations that have long functioned in the comfort of an alliance construct. Unlike the historically independent players it is understandably difficult for them to accept that the compulsions of interdependence are a good enough substitute. Others may contemplate this prospect with greater nervousness but in India, perhaps, with a sense of opportunity as well. An individualistic world means that the entrenched order is more open to newer players. Long-standing group positions may become less rigid. That the format of play is also more bilateral strengthens the inclination to make accommodations.

This has been more in evidence in the security domain especially maritime cooperation, counterterrorism or in export controls. Whether it is the Indo-US nuclear deal, the partnership in Afghanistan or the Malabar exercise, they reflect a departure from the old groupthink to more contemporary pragmatism. It could now extend to the economic domain as well.

Friends who differ or competitors who cooperate are a notable trait of this emerging world. Both express different aspects of constraints that limit freedom of choices in that interdependence. The rise of nationalism is largely responsible for the former group while global threats bring the latter together. Thus, we have seen a United States differ with much of the Western world, especially Europe, on issues like climate change. The politics of trade and energy have also been very divisive, but more than specific issues frenemies have grown as mindsets have changed. The belief that alliances are burdensome is by itself a cause for friction. The momentum of the past however can still keep combinations alive of nations who may differ about the present. Despite such differences, traditions do continue as a basis for working together even if sometimes unhappily. A very different motivation is provided however by the compulsions of common concerns. We have seen coalitions of convenience on global issues like counter-terrorism, piracy, maritime security, non-proliferation or even climate change. These are issue-based and can again be effective even when grudging.

If divisions within alliances was one evolution, reaching beyond them posed another. As the world moved in the direction of greater pluralism, pragmatic and result oriented cooperation has started to look attractive. They could also be reconciled with contrary agendas. The growing imperative of burden-sharing was combined with an appreciation of influences beyond formal structures. Asia has been a particular focus for such initiatives as a regional architecture is least developed there. Obviously, the mirror image of this is the utility to independent powers of those who have now become more realistic and cooperative.

India today has emerged as an industry leader on such plurilateral groups because it occupies both the hedging and the emerging space at the same time and ability to reconcile its security interests with its political and developmental ones, allows it great maneuvering space. The different era is one of focused agreements, specific agendas, flexible arrangements and greater customization. Comfort is the new commitment. A world of multiple choices is increasingly opening up at different levels. We surely see that at the big table where larger powers are dealing more opportunistically with each other. Through their behavior they encourage the rest of the world to also do so. In the light of the global balance being so fluid, the shaping of the local one has become an exercise of its own. Multi-cornered competition has gained more currency than in the past. As they throw up issues, it is more effective for a country like India to respond with engagement rather than distancing.The skill that current diplomacy therefore values more is the ability to engage contesting parties at the same time with optimal results. At a multilateral level it makes abstention less viable as a default position and encourages more creative approaches. But there is a reason why going up the global hierarchy is judged by the ability to successfully manage conflicting priorities. In this different era there will be convergence with many but congruence with none. Finding common points to engage with as many power centers will characterize diplomacy at its highest level. For this reason, India will find it perfectly natural to engage a Chinese leader at Wuhan, a Russian one at Sochi and then go on to a 2+2 meeting of foreign and defence ministers of the United States.

At the G20 in Buenos Aires last year, it engaged back-to-back, in fact this year as well, back to back in two trilaterals i.e. US-Japan-India as well as Russia-India-China. The country that fares best is the one which has the least problems with her peer group and the broadest acceptance beyond. For a number of reasons the game has now become one of positioning and optimizing. The reality is that India either reaches out in as many directions as possible and maximizes its gains or takes a more defensive approach of avoiding engagement. This is not just about greater ambition, it is also about not living in yesterday.

In this intensely competitive world India's goal should be to move closer towards the strategic sweet spot. But having said that, let me also caution that the world of all against all is neither desirable, nor indeed probable. The weight of history and the compulsions of politics will make sure that convergences end up as some form of collectivism. Nor can beliefs and values be divorced from the behavior of states. Thus, even as we look at an era of more dispersed power and sharper competition, the way forward is more likely to be new forms of accommodation rather than pure transactions. While nations will, naturally, strive to advance their particular interests, similarities and affinities will always remain a factor.

While this is an exposition on changes in International Affairs, I would emphasize that the direction is towards a new architecture rather than the absence of one. Preparing for a more competitive and complex era will require, obviously, different mindsets. For a nation like India, this would be in addition to the changes induced by its climb up the global power hierarchy. As a broad approach it'll be reflected in the primacy of long term thinking over short term calculations. It would encourage undertaking deep structural change and ambitious socio-economic initiatives that can transform both habits and attitudes.

In this world what were presumed to be intractable challenges will have to be addressed, not ducked. An example to point is that of the recent change in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. For many years India sought a solution while Pakistan was comfortable with continuing cross-border terrorism. The choice as this government came back to power was clear. Either we have more of past policies and the prospect of further radicalization or we have a decisive change in the landscape and a change of direction towards de-radicalization. The economic costs of the status quo were visible in the absence of entrepreneurship and shortage of job opportunities. The social costs were even starker. Indiscrimination against women in lack of protection, for juveniles in the refusal to apply affirmative action and in the denial of the right to information, education and work. All this added up to security costs as resulting disaffection fed separatism and fueled a neighbor’s terrorism. At a broader level these realities also contradicted our commitment that no region, no community and no faith would be left behind.

The legislative changes made this summer put India and the entire region on the road to long-term peace. That is the reality today in the making and this is the India that will navigate the world which I have described just now. The different era, which we have entered, also calls for both India and the United States to press the refresh button on their relationship. The really important relationships in the world are the less transactional ones. They are driven by global assessments and are based on strengthening each other. They visualize, even in the uncertainties of a more volatile era, new opportunities for cooperation. Recent events in our ties confirm that the deep convergences developed over the last two decades are now in full play. I am confident that a strategic appreciation of the emerging global landscape would only bring us closer. Thank for your attention.

Dr. John Hamre: Well, this hasn’t happened to me before because all of the questions I prepared in advance are irrelevant given your speech. You made me think that I'm going to steal your speech from you and read it again and again, they were very thoughtful. You did trigger a very deeper kind of a conversation and so I would like to take a few minutes to actually ask you to elaborate a bit. You know all of the really complex problems in the world are horizontal and all the governments are vertical and so the question in this modern age is how do we deal with it? After 1945, and after we set up structures like the United Nations, World Bank and alliances and you suggested that those are eroding in their vitality and maybe legitimacy, and you used the term ‘coalitions of convenience.’ Coalitions of the willing, you know, have really emerged as a new pattern. The problem is that coalitions of the willing or coalitions of convenience don't have the normative qualities of institutions. Institutions are there and then they train the succeeding generation into what are our goals and aspirations and constraints. So, let me start by asking, what do you think happens to the institutions of internationalism that we have today, you know, the World Bank, the IMF, the UN? Are they also going to be losing their vitality and what does it mean to India?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Well, you know, what we have seen, when we don't have to look too far into the future we actually need to look back into the past. I mean just look back at the last five years, 10 years, 15 years. What we have seen is that many institutions have come under stress because either, as you say, they've lost legitimacy, vitality, efficiency. If significant countries don't get their substantial interests sorted out there, they start looking elsewhere. So, I mean if you look at say, trade, the fact that today you have a proliferation of free trade agreements is because of the feeling that the global trading arrangement was not going to happen. We see that often in security situations where, if you look at last maybe decade or two in the Middle East, you actually have coalitions of countries partly because they are the only countries who have an interest or in some cases they couldn't convince other countries or in some cases they went to the United Nations, didn't get their way and so decided they'd do something else.

So, this would be the reality. It would not be my case that I would abandon an institution and say an ad-hoc solution is preferable to an institution. Everybody's first choice would be the normative choice but what you have is the reality of countries which look beyond or look around, so that's one part of it. The other part of it is also the institutions themselves. I mean look at the United Nations. Obviously, we are biased, we believe we have a good case, but if you have maybe in 15 years, you would have a United Nations where the most populous country in the world, with the third largest economy is not in the decision-making in the United Nations.

I grant you it affects the country concerned but I would also suggest it affects the United Nations’ credibility and it's not just the Security Council. If you look how peacekeeping operations are run, who actually decides, there are other angles. You could argue who gives the budget and therefore that should be a factor- that's a reasonable proposition; but this this is one of the key challenges facing the world today, which is all that we took as a given over the last 70 years, things are happening beyond them and that is creating a new kind of international relations. And it's something which we all need to get real about.

Dr. John Hamre: Yes, I thought it was a tragic thing that we didn't find a way to amend the Security Council. I mean having it represents the power geometry of 1947 makes no sense today and it impedes the institution right, but it certainly looks hard to change it although it should be a priority to try. Such a fascinating speech you gave. The US National Intelligence Council produces every four or five years a forecast looking at the future and this last one was interesting because they were looking out 30 years and saying what's going to be the nature of global governments. To motivate that discussion, they used three metaphors- Islands, orbits and networks. Islands was a shorthand for a return to nationalism. Brexit, America First, whatever. Orbits was spheres of influence. China building its network immediately around it. Russia trying to reassemble pliant neighbor states, and the third was networks where it evolves into shifting channels, some at the national level. You reference some talk about a free-trade zone, in Southeast Asia others at the sub government level where you're seeing California finding unique partnerships with countries. What are your thoughts, what you think is happening? You know multipolarity is going to grow, multilateralism will contract. So, what's the structure of governance you think that emerges?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Again, it's in the nature of our business to generalize but when you get serious you can't generalize because every island is a specific island. So you would have those countries who have become more insular in a way and you can see a lot of that in Europe. I mean Brexit is the classical case, but you also would have, India which in many ways will be a very contrary case where I would argue that India is today both, more nationalistic and also more internationalist at the same time. So I'm not sure that in every part of the world nationalism means the same thing and leads to the same consequences. To some extent, there could be some other cases like that where a country wants, feels more confident about itself but also feels that, even nationalism is different and you can have more confident nationalism, you can have more insecure nationalism. But again coming back to this triad of Islands, orbits and networks, my sense is that you have to be connected. Islands have their orbits too - and it isn't ithe world is not just about politics, the world is also about business, it's about movement of people, so you can have the same people who would have voted for Brexit go to Spain for the holiday. So now we've seen the network, in a sense, work contrary to the Island. It's a far more complicated reality.

Dr. John Hamre:
I'm going to cheat everybody if I keep this academic conversation going but I want to come back to you another day and talk about it. I do want to get to some specific issues if I may. Since I had a chance to see you in New Delhi in August, the momentum towards a peace deal with the Taliban seems to have fallen back. I think that one of the conclusions I drew from my conversations in Delhi was that there was disappointment with the lack of consultation with India about the future of Afghanistan. Can you share with us now your sense about what would you be telling us here, and I realize you're going to have private conversations with the government but what are the things that we should be thinking about on how you look at the situation in Afghanistan?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar:
Well, I think from the time you came to India to now, what perhaps has changed is we have much more consultations. In fact, even on this trip I met ambassador Khalilzad in New York. Part of my discussion with secretary Pompeo yesterday was devoted to Afghanistan. And we consult with other countries as well. We consulted with the Russians, we consulted with the Chinese, so for us the challenge in Afghanistan is this- we see the American dilemma and the American dilemma is of an 18 years troop commitment and a debate whether this situation is going to improve radically in the coming years. We understand that. We also recognize the American achievement which sometimes Americans themselves underplay- the enormous changes that they brought about in Afghanistan at great cost to themselves and we admire and appreciate that. Today those achievements have changed the lives of a generation and a half in Afghanistan and anybody who goes there could really feel it palpably.

Those achievements are not small ones and it's important that even as the American dilemmas are being addressed that those achievements are also protected. So how do you manage both of them at the same time? And again, you know, I would caution against a tendency to say if we are going to change something in 2019, the fallback alternative is 1999, so we go back 20 years before we came. I think so much has changed in those 20 years that there are other alternative realities out there which have emerged. There are, today, other political forces, other social forces at work out there. I don't see that so much, so clearly as a binary choice between what it is today and what it used to be before the US went in there in 2001.My sense is you actually are going to see a fairly complex process because it's one thing to work out solutions on paper. Do bear in mind there are real people involved here and real people often have minds of their own and the minds of their own may not conform to what the paper says should be their fate. So I predict something far more complex than where we are right now.

Dr. John Hamre: We started off by saying we'll negotiate directly with the Taliban and then we'll just kind of insist they talk to the government. That seems to be dangerous. Do you have a view on how we should approach this next phase?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: You know we are conservative with offering prescriptions particularly publicly, but what I would say is, there are people there, there's a democratic process however imperfect that has thrown up representatively. So those are all factors in play.

Dr. John Hamre: They are now, absolutely. If I may Foreign Minister, I know that you were in New York, you had a brief meeting of the so-called Quad which has been kind of a shifting high school dance. You can move it across the room and say do you want to dance so it's not really come together yet but there was a quad meeting. Is there is a second dance?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Well, I don't know the dance form when there are three men and one lady. I'm sure there must be one but this one went well. I mean this has now in its current form been in evidence for about two years now, and it's been worked at, till now, at the Assistant Secretary level. So people have done a certain amount of work, so by the time the ministers came to the dance, somebody warmed up the floor, so that was very helpful.Today we have issues, the four countries, issues of common interest, common concern, you know. Maritime security is one, counter terrorism is one, and connectivity issue is one. I would say you know the combination of these four ministers, frankly we all got along with each other, at a personal level. We frankly found it a very comfortable, very productive meeting.

Dr. John Hamre: About three years ago when I was in Delhi you gave me a very sharp lecture about us- America- not paying enough attention to Chinese infrastructure building around the region and the geopolitical dimensions of that. Since that time we've seen some countries push back feeling that they are being abused in this Chinese One Belt One Road agenda. What's your sense of it now?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Look, I would rather speak about what I am doing than what others are doing. That's what happens when you become a foreign minister. We have fairly clear principles on connectivity. We feel connectivity should be a consultative process; there should be viability in market economy terms, that there should be a sense of local ownership. You respond to all of that and if others have a different view, that’s their privilege. So what we have done in the last many years is actually put that to work. Today we have a very large number of connectivity projects across South Asia. South Asia is our first circle of priority because we are very conscious. It's a very under-integrated region so what we have tried to do - through soft loans, through grants, through encouraging business collaborations- is to look to see if we can get much greater common connectivity on power transmission, on data flows, on optical fiber networks, on roads, on waterways, on rail links. So very large part of the Foreign Ministry's budget today is being devoted to these kinds of projects and they are today very prevalent across South Asia barring one country, no prizes for guessing that one. And we've taken that on to Africa as well. So even in Africa today we have a commitment, we have a soft loan commitment of about $10 billion over five years. We are on track; we are in the fourth year of that program and about $700 million in grants. And you will see across Africa, today, actually a lot of Indian connectivity projects as well.

I'm using connectivity in a very broad sense and what happens in connectivity is obviously, no country is big enough to build connectivity for the world. So it makes sense that you do your part and you coordinate or juxtapose it with what other people are doing, so that then it works better for everybody. And you are seeing a lot of that. There would be projects where we you know work closely with the Japanese to some extent, there are American connectivity projects involving organizations like the BMCC. These are all happening as we speak.

Dr. John Hamre: I thought I saw your hand in Osaka G20 Summit which really did highlight so much of what you've just said. This need for high standards, objective standards in connectivity projects.

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Well, thank you, but actually a lot of that happened in the period when I was not in the government. I actually attended some quality infrastructure events. I think today the idea of building connectivity which meets some kind of broad understanding of common good, that's there in Japan, it's there in Europe a lot. I've been there and discussed it with a lot of people. I think that's gaining traction and that's probably where it is going.

Dr. John Homre:
It's a very good thing. The audience's just ask you about Kashmir. I was in India five days after the legal and political resolution of a 70 years long issue and I was impressed by the solidity of consensus in India about them. There's been quite a bit of criticism outside of India associated with the with the lockdown, as it were, and the communications and I understand quite legitimate security issues that you have but this also will engender resentments that could grow over time with beneficiaries in Islamabad and frankly in Beijing. So I'm just wondering how you're thinking about bringing good to Jammu & Kashmir and others to try to minimize the kind of challenges that are emerging now during this transition?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Look, you know the quest for a more perfect union is not unique to India. In our case I think Kashmir stood out, it stood out for exactly the reasons I spelled out in my remarks, which was that it was intended originally that Kashmir will join India on the same terms as every other princely state. It would have more time to align itself with the polity in entirety. But what was meant as a provision to give space and time actually ended up as an arbitrage. People actually made gains out of that, they created a barrier out of that provision and they had the keys to that particular door. And the result of all of that was exactly what I said, which was you had less economic activity than the rest of India. You had a state which was socially, increasingly less aligned with the rest of the country. I mean pretty much every progressive piece of legislation in the country over the last 20 years did not get to be enacted and applied in Kashmir. And all of this really contributed to a political security challenge.

Now that we took a long hard look at it, and the decision of this magnitude was not one which was taken lightly. It was done because frankly there was no other way. I mean the only other way was to do more of the same, and expect different results. And that was what was happening. Now I take your point that there would be transitional risks - when you when you change the status quo on anything in a very substantial way, there would be reactions and there are reactions out there. After all there are vested interests built over seventy years. There are local vested interests; there are vested interests across the border. I mean if we actually managed to get development going in Kashmir, do understand that everything that the Pakistanis have planned for, for the last 70 years comes to naught. And therefore, that's not something they're going to let happen easily.

So our challenge today is actually to ensure that this works on the ground and to do that the beginning is to prevent loss of life when the changes are made. Many of the restrictions which have been imposed are precautions to ensure there isn’t a loss of life. And these are common sense precautions. I mean there is a lot of experience which has gone into that precaution. If you look at events in 2016 for example, we saw how the internet and social media were used to radicalize and to mobilize. So obviously if you're going to walk into this situation, you are not going to let the internet be used by people whose intentions are malevolent.So I am not minimizing the challenges, but I think the intent is really to persevere and to make sure that there are enough changes on the ground so that people's thinking changes accordingly. And I sure do want to make one more point which is, we are today focused on Jammu and Kashmir and I grant you that’s a pretty unique situation but India has experience in its own Northeastern regions of tackling very difficult challenges. And today if you see, the Northeast is largely peaceful. People are employed in gainful livelihood, not in throwing stones at security forces and that the developmentcard has actually worked in the Northeast. It has worked even to the point of a very strong political mainstream of the Northeast where actually national parties today have a lot of support.

Question: My question is about the future development of Kashmir. Does the Indian government have an ecological sustainability-based plan for developing Jammu and Kashmir given that these regions are very sensitive to climate change going forward and also given that the area's the boundaries are political not ecological? Do you envision a more regional corporation for managing the ecology of that area? Thank you.

Question: My name is Michael Poggi. I'm a journalist with the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. I would like to ask you about S400 issue, not about the USA mediation- you answered this question already- but about the possible consequences of this purchase. The US has a law, CATSA, which says that the sanctions could be imposed on a country which purchases such equipment. The question is are you ready to accept those consequences or what other options are you ready for. Thank you.

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar:
You're supposed to be helping me get through this.Question: What's your comment on yesterday's China's largest ever military parade celebrating its 70th birthday and what's your interpretation on Indian security and defense?

Question: How are you balancing the relationship with the United States politically and in terms of energy dependence against the relationship with Iran? Is that at a current inflection point and do you see any changes coming in future?

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar: Let me start with the Jammu & Kashmir issue. It's the objective of the government as things settle down obviously to encourage investment, government investment but also private investment and private investment has not really been that strong historically in Kashmir for reasons that we all know. But yes, I think it's very much the ecological fragility of that particular landscape would be very much in people's minds and I would say this is a government which gives a lot of attention to those factors. I mean if you look at both its environmental sensitivity as well as its climate change awareness, those have been very much sharper with this particular government. So I'm pretty sure that is something which would be borne in mind and in many cases we have systems of environment clearances for projects, which is mandatory. So it's not that you're going to have industry run rampant in a place.

On the S400 issue, you know I'm not sure I like the way you posed the question. We, India, have made a decision on the S400 and we have discussed that with the US government and I'm reasonably convinced of the powers of my persuasion. So it would be my hope that people understand why this particular transaction is important for us. I think the rest of your question to me is really hypothetical.On the parade in China, 10 years ago I actually was there- I just arrived as the ambassador and I saw the 60th anniversary parade. I'm a parade person you know, I’ve watched parades all my life and part of the reason was that my father had a job organizing parades.

So I used to be the kid who would be, all of us actually, we were four of us, would be put in the front seat and left to watch parades. And Chinese parades have always been very impressive, I saw a little bit on the television, so if you ask me as a comparative parade analysis, it ranked up there.

On the US Iran issue, look these are the kind of situations that I speak about. This will be a world of contradictions where you have friends on both sides of the argument, where you have relationships to keep, where you have interest to protect on either side and you will never get clean-cut solutions. So when people say what are you going to do? It can't be I'll go here or I'll go there. You have to sort of walk that space very-very delicately and dexterously. I mean if you look today at the Gulf, there are so many contradictions at so many levels- political contradictions, issues of faith, issues of competitive business and they are all in play at the same time.

We have two sets of concerns there. When it comes to Iran directly, our concern is we are a big energy importing economy and for us affordable, predictable access to energy is very important. We have been repeatedly assured that that would happen. So for us that would be the benchmark with which we would approach the region, that we need solutions which will work for us. But at the same time, we have a lot of other relationships with Iran as well. I mean we have a strong political relationship, we have a cultural relationship, we work with them, I mean we actually operate a port in that country which services Afghanistan.So those are equities obviously which we would protect and we have a larger Gulf concern which is from the fact that we have a large Diaspora there. We have nine million people. In terms of energy, in terms of remittances, it's important in terms of security and I would say even the kind of radicalization challenges that that region can throw up - those are important for us as well. So all of those kind of go into this mix, but we'll have to, as I say, maneuver there. We were concerned when there was an escalation of tensions, we have done some naval deployments in the Straits of Hormuz, so those are to take care of our interests and those of the general shipping as well. So this is for me a very good illustration of exactly the kind of world view that I was laying out.

Dr. John Homre: It was very unusual to have a foreign minister that can operate at the strategic level, the operational level, tactical level, you do that with mastery. It's really been a splendid discussion. I've expended more time I've taken from the ambassadors. We have to let the Foreign Minister leave. I'd ask you to please keep your seats so he and his delegation can get out of here but please thank you with your applause.

(Concludes)

 

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