India does not need the approval of any other country for the route it chooses to take, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said today, reaffirming New Delhi’s non-aligned foreign policy amid strong pressure from the West to take a strong stand against Ukrainian aggression Russia.
New Delhi, Mr Jaishankar said, cannot please other countries by being a “pale imitation” of what they have.
“We need to be sure of who we are. I think it is better to engage with the world on the basis of who we are than to try and delight the world by being a pale imitation of who they are, ”the Foreign Minister said at the Raisina Dialogue, an international gathering of leaders and policy makers in New Delhi.
“The idea that other people define us, that you know somewhere we have to get approval from other parties, I think, that’s the era we have to leave,” he said.
Yesterday, Mr Jaishankar took a question from the European Foreign Minister on India’s position in the Ukraine crisis, and asked where Europe is when countries in Asia – such as Afghanistan – are facing a crisis. Accusing European countries of more or less dropping Afghan civil society under the bus, Mr Jaishankar reminded European leaders that there are similar pressing issues in other parts of the world, which are also under threat.
Mr Jaishankar said India should be practical on how it leverages on the international environment and corrects mistakes made in the past by paying more attention to tight security.
“If I choose one thing that we have done, the difference we have made to the world over the last 75 years, is the fact that we are a democracy,” he said.
Mr Jaishankar said there was a “sense of heart” that democracy was the future, and a large part of this was due to choices made by India in the past. “There was a time when in this part of the world, we were the only democracy. If democracy is global today or we see it globally today, in some measure, the credit is due to India,” he said.
On where India has failed, Mr Jaishankar said India had not paid attention to its social indicators and human resources in the past. “Two, we’re not as focused on manufacturing and technology trends as we should be. Three, in terms of foreign policy, we don’t pay much attention to hard security,” he said.