India is less and less pulled into the politics of its neighbours: Jaishankar

S Jaishankar

During the rule of Narendra Modi as prime minister, India has been less and less pulled into the politics of its neighbours. India now stands as a permanent symbol of stability to its neighbours. Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar made this remark this Friday.

S Jaishankar was speaking on “9 Years of Modi Government: A Foreign Policy Overview” at the India International Centre in the capital Delhi. He said that there have been significant changes in India’s neighbourhood policy in these nine years. India has gained the ability to get along with all governments across the political divide. India was also endevouring to instill the same reciprocity among the neighbours.

Explaining this effort, Jaishankar said, "We look at our neighbours and we consciously take a generous, non-reciprocal, long-term view of building relations with them. That means that if it is necessary for us to invest in greater connectivity, in greater flows between us, in making investments in their economy, we should be prepared to do that because at our stage of growth, it is absolutely vital that we have a benign neighbourhood. A benign neighbourhood doesn’t happen by itself. It happens when the largest country in the neighbourhood invests in the rest of the neighbourhood, and that is essentially what we have tried to do"

Highlighting India's foreign policy successes during the Modi rule, Jaishankar detailed India's present role in global politics. He explained why the super powers were paying attention and importance to India. He referred to India's rise as an economic power. He spoke of India's success in its neighbourhood policy, while explaining the importance given to India by the US, Russia and Europe. He also explained why relations with China and Pakistan were not normal.

In speaking about the neighbours, Jashankar particularly highlighted Nepal and Sri Lanka. While referring to power production, power export and an overall increase in communications, he said that India was not interfering in the domestic politics of its neighbours.

He also said India had earned strategic clarity and confidence in dealing equally with all political parties and governments. He said, "The idea of inviting all the leaders of our neighbourhood to the oath taking itself was a divergence from our political traditions, certainly from the way the neighbourhood saw itself and saw us, and how we saw the neighbourhood."

Speaking to Prothom Alo on Saturday about Jaishankar's comments and deliberations on the 'success' of India's neighbourhood policy, former diplomat Deb Mukherjee said, "There is no doubt that multilateral communication has been set up with the two neighbours, Nepal and Bangladesh. But India has also ushered in needless controversy."

This veteran diplomat who had served as ambassador to both Nepal and Bangladesh, said, "For Bangladesh, the biggest letdown has been the Teesta agreement not being signed. There is also strong displeasure apparent in the neighbours over the map of undivided India. It is hard to believe that everyone is putting their trust in India out of love."

Referring to remark of the external affairs minister that India had become a symbol of stability in the neighbourhood, Deb Mukherjee said, "I have my strong doubts if KP Sharma Oli's Nepal Communist Party (UML) or Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) will agree with that claim."

In response of Jaishankar's claim that India was less and less pulled into the politics of its neighbours, Deb Mukherjee said, "He is an astute politician. Perhaps what he wanted to say was that in the past India hadn't got involved in the politics of its neighbours on its own accord. Taking part in Bangladesh's liberation war or tackling Nepal's Maoist uprising is not unwarranted interference."