External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has said the West was not the “bad guy” as it was not flooding Asian and African markets with goods on a massive scale and that there was a need to get over the “syndrome” of seeing it in a negative way.
Mr. Jaishankar, in an interview to Malayalam news channel Asianet News, also made it clear that he was not batting for the West. He was in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday as part of the launch of the PM Vishwakarma scheme.
“It is not the West which is flooding Asia and Africa with goods on a massive scale. I think we need to get over the syndrome of the past that the West is the bad guy and on the other side are the developing countries. The world is more complicated, the problems are much more complicated than that,” the minister said.
Former Indian diplomat T. P. Sreenivasan interviewed the minister for the channel.
On being asked whether Chinese President Xi Jinping did not attend the G-20 summit in New Delhi because it did not want India to be seen as leader of the Global South, Mr. Jaishankar said the reasons were up for speculation.
He said the issue today was the building up of a strong sense, over the last 15-20 years, over the inequities of globalisation where countries saw their products, manufacturing and employment come under stress due to their markets being flooded by cheap goods – an indirect reference to the Chinese trade and economic policies.
The minister said this underlying resentment and pain of those countries regarding the global economy was building up for the last 15-20 years and the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict resulted in prices of energy and food items going up.
So there was a sense of anger building up in countries about them being used as an extractive resource to fuel the economy of another nation and added that the West was not to be blamed for that.
He made it clear that he was not batting for the West and said that in today’s globalisation there was a concentration of manufacturing that was being leveraged and subsidised and was affecting economies of various nations.
However, India’s manufacturing, agriculture, scientific achievement like the Chandrayaan-3 mission, ability to vaccinate, etc. all of that has created a sense among the Global South, which includes the African Union, “that one of us has the ability to stand, grow and progress”.
“So they identify with us in a way that they do not with other people,” Mr. Jaishankar said.
Responding to queries, he also spoke about the achievements of the G-20 Summit under the Indian presidency and the threat posed by the political space given by Canada to the Khalistan group.
Mr. Jaishankar said that some of the major achievements of the G-20 Summit under the Indian presidency was that India was able to get the influential group of nations back on the track of growth and development and also focus on the Global South initiative.
In addition to that, the country was also able to do diplomacy in a different way and through the summit created a greater interest in the nation about the Baltic, he said.
Mr. Jaishankar said India was a different country now with a different level of confidence and a different leadership and the manner in which G-20 was conducted has only benefited the nation.
He said that the summit showed that the agenda “does not have to be decided by the West or by the P5 or by a narrow one or two countries” and that India too can shape it.
“By doing the Voice of the Global South (summit) and bringing 125 nations together, we straightaway shaped the agenda,” he said..
At the same time, he said, the Global South was not a new world order or a definition and India was not claiming to be its leader.
“My most truthful answer is that the Global South is not a definition, but a feeling. It is a feeling of solidarity, a willingness to put yourself out,” he said, adding that “those who are part of it know it and those who are not also know it”.
World leaders at the two-day G-20 Summit in New Delhi recently had hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “decisive leadership” and for championing the voice of the Global South.
He also welcomed the proposed economic corridor with India at one end and Europe at the other and which passes through the Middle East making it easier for people from here to go there for job opportunities.
While speaking about people migrating abroad for jobs, he touched upon the issue of the Khalistan group’s activities in Canada and its effect on India’s relations with that country.
He said the problem arises when, for whatever reason, such countries give space in their politics for activities of such groups.
The minister said there were compulsions in politics, “but everybody, especially in a democracy, must temper that with a larger sense of responsibility to the world as well as a sense of responsibility to their own image and their own well being”.
“Forget us for the moment. You know the kind of force involved in all of this. They are not good for the country where all of this will happen. Today it is Canada, it could be something else tomorrow. We are focusing on generating that appreciation,” he said.
On how India managed to not get Russia blamed for the Ukraine conflict in the G-20 declaration, Mr. Jaishankar said, “Everybody compromised.”
“There was a lot of give and take,” he added.
He said what happened in the Bali Summit of G-20, where Russia was blamed, could not be repeated in India and at the same time the clock could not be stopped there.
“This is New Delhi. So the New Delhi outcome had to be forged,” he said.
He also said that in the G-20 India was able to focus on the Global South in terms of phrases, agenda, outcome and the African Union’s membership “for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi really stuck his neck out”.
“This is a different country, with a different level of confidence and a different leadership,” he concluded.