The days of vote bank politics dominating foreign policies are gone, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said, citing India’s present stand on Israel as evidence of change in stance.
Speaking at the launch of the Gujarati translation of his book, The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World, on Sunday, Jaishankar said: “Due to some political reasons, we had to restrict ourselves from enhancing relations with Israel. PM Modi was the first Indian Prime Minister who went to Israel… The time has gone when we used to keep national interest aside for vote bank politics.”
India is the only country where Israel has the position of Water Attaché to help share Israeli best practices and technologies for advancements in India’s water management sector.
The external affairs minister also lauded the Narendra Modi government, saying that it was “a great strength" to hold the post at this time.
“I will envy the person who is the Foreign Minister in 2047, but I will tell you one thing, to be the Foreign Minister of Narendra Modi government is also a great strength. There are core beliefs, confidence and attitude, and the world is recognising it," he said.
‘Forced population control dangerous’
On India’s population, Jaishankar said the rate of growth of India’s population is falling very sharply, the reasons being education, social awareness etc. “Each one of us with the passage of time — our family sizes are smaller. It is a part of evolution. Forced population control can have dangerous consequences. You can see in some countries, their gender balance is disturbed. That is not in the interest of any society. I feel, see… democracy has its shortcomings; sometimes people get frustrated with it. But for all its difficulties, any day, democracy is better than non-democracy. And the solution to issues like population control has to be democratic. Those who forced it are regretting it today," Jaishankar said.
On buying Russian oil
Talking about India’s decision to continue buying oil from Russia, Jaishankar said people do not understand the situation of India — the income level here. “The issue of oil import was more of people’s interest than foreign policy. PM Modi’s instruction was we need to think about our people first," Jaishankar said.
India shouldn’t interfere in global issues? Times have changed
Jaishankar said: “If some problem arises in the world, we should not interfere in it. This too is a sort of a dogma. Maybe in 1950-60, we did not have capability. We had our own interests. But now, just a few days back, we have reached number five in the world in economy. The thinking of an entity which is at number 20 and the one who is at number five cannot be the same.”
He added: “The change as per our capabilities and the expression of confidence is not there because the old habits keep us tied up…Our challenge is if the world will define us or we will define ourselves.”