New Delhi, Nov 15: External affairs minister S Jaishankar said India’s foreign policy cannot be tethered to dogmas and needs to be agile in a fast-changing global order.
Delivering the 4th Ramnath Goenka Memorial Lecture Thursday on the topic, “Beyond the Delhi Dogma: Indian Foreign Policy in a Changing World”, Jaishankar said: “We are now at the cusp of change.
Jaishankar further said that the Simla Agreement (inked by then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the then Pakistan President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on 2nd July 1972) led to a “revanchist” Pakistan and problems in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Evidence strongly supports the view that India advanced its interests effectively when it made hard-headed assessments of contemporary geopolitics. And even more so when it did not hesitate to break with its past. The 1971 Bangladesh war, the 1992 economic and political repositioning, the 1998 nuclear tests or the 2005 India-US nuclear deal are instructive examples. Indeed, it is only through a series of disruptions that India was able to bring about decisive shifts in its favour,” he said.
“A misreading of geopolitics and economics upto 1991 stands in contrast to the reformist policies thereafter. Two decades of nuclear indecision ended dramatically with the tests of 1998. The lack of response to 26/11 is so different from the Uri and Balakot operations. Whether it is events or trends, they all bear scrutiny for the lessons they hold,” he said.
Jaishankar said “the fact remains that even after seven decades of independence, many of our borders remain unsettled” and that in the economic sphere, “we may look good when benchmarked against our own past” but “it seems a little different when compared to China or South East Asia”.
India needs “greater realism in policy”, Jaishankar said. The “early misreading of Pakistan’s intentions can perhaps be explained away by lack of experience”, but “the reluctance to attach overriding priority to securing borders even a decade later is much more difficult to justify”, he said. He said India had strongly “built up an image of a reluctant power,” but it “ended up influenced by our own narrative”.
The minister also asserted that “holding the feet to the fire” is very significant in dealing with Pakistan.
“For years India’s position on the world state seemed assured, but the 1962 conflict with China significantly damaged India’s standing,” said Jaishankar, adding: “India’s record includes dark moments like the 1962 defeat against China. Or tense ones like the 1965 war with Pakistan. There are enough dichotomies in our past to generate a spirited debate on successes and failures.”
Jaishankar stated that albeit hard, yet the purposeful pursuit of national interest was necessary for changing global dynamics.
The real stumbling block to India’s rise is not anymore the barriers of the world, but the dogmas of Delhi, said Jaishankar.