On Sunday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar took a veiled swipe at China and 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.
Jaishankar, in an interview with the Malayalam news channel Asianet, also made it clear that he was not batting for the West. He was in Thiruvananthapuram as part of the launch of the PM Vishwakarma Scheme. Former Indian diplomat T P Sreenivasan interviewed the minister for the channel.
"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.
On being asked whether Chinese President Xi Jinping did not attend the G20 summit in New Delhi because it did not want India to be seen as the leader of the Global South, Mr Jaishankar said the reasons were up for speculation.
In an indirect reference to Chinese trade and economic policies, he said that the problem with today was the development of a strong sense over the last 15 to 20 years about the injustices of globalization, where countries saw their products, manufacturing, and employment under stress due to the flood of low-cost goods into their markets.
The minister claimed that these nations' underlying bitterness and pain over the state of the world economy had been accumulating for the past 15 to 20 years and that the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine had contributed to higher costs for food and energy. Therefore, a sense of resentment regarding their usage as an extractive resource to support the economy of another country was growing in such countries, and he added that the West was not to blame for it.
He made it plain that he wasn't advocating on behalf of the West and claimed that in the current period of globalization, manufacturing was becoming more concentrated, was being leveraged and subsidized, and was having an impact on the economy of many different countries.
However, India's manufacturing, agriculture, scientific achievements 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," Jaishankar said.
In response to questions, he also spoke about the achievements of the G20 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 G20 Summit under the Indian presidency were that India was able to get the influential group of nations back on track of growth and development and also focus on the Global South initiative.
In addition, he added, the nation was able to conduct diplomatic relations in a novel manner, and the summit increased public awareness of the Baltic.
Jaishankar said India was a different country now with a different level of confidence and a different leadership and the manner in which G20 was conducted has only benefited the nation.
The summit, he claimed, demonstrated 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 influence it.
"By doing the Voice of the Global South (summit) and bringing 125 nations together, we straight away shaped the agenda," he said.
He added that India was not making a claim to be the leader of the Global South or that it represented a new system of international relations.
"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 do not also know it".
He also hailed the projected economic corridor that would connect India with Europe and pass through the Middle East, making it simpler for people from this country to travel there in search of employment.
He mentioned the subject of the Khalistan group's activities in Canada and their impact on India's relations with that nation while talking about Indians moving overseas for work.
He said the problem arises when, for whatever reason, such countries give space in their politics for the 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.
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