Speaking at the World Economic Forum Summit at New Delhi, the Union Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar highlighted India’s trade, partnership and economic understanding in the international space. Addressing the issue of trade with other countries, he explained that having a good relationship with neighbours is very important. Apart from this, he also spoke about India’s stand on establishing a big project like Belt and Road Initiative. He reiterated that India does not believe featuring in headlines, instead, it likes to do more valuable things in partnerships.
Explain the importance of having good relationships with neighbouring countries, S Jaishankar said, “The world is a complicated place so all of us might have preferences, but the world does not run by entitlements, word runs by capabilities, by influence, and by interest. So, I would hope very much that we have the ability to influence, compete and secure our interest. The fact is that we will certainly make sure that our ability to compete, to secure our interest in advance, to influence other countries will remain sharp and effective. In this exercise, if there is an epicentre, which is yourself, then how good you become is a function of distance. Thus, you start with your immediate neighbourhood, if you cannot influence your immediate neighbourhood, it is very unlikely that you will be able to influence people beyond that circle. So, to me, that’s like the first circle of your interest.”
The External Affairs Minister reiterated India’s stand on the Belt and Road Initiative developing under China. He opined, “Regarding Belt and Road Initiative, we have a long-standing position on that, for us, it’s disconnected-on sovereignty matters which has not changed. The idea of doing something similar, I say that we are us and we are not some other country and I think it's not just in this initiative but a whole lot of other areas. My own sense is, as India becomes bigger, the concepts or analytics that are developed for other countries would not necessarily apply to us."
Commenting on the expectations that models will be copied, despite differences existing, the foreign Minister implied that he was unlikely because India works for the welfare of its neighbours and that the scale in which it performs these tasks will surprise the world; while also adding that India's actions are much more disaggregated and organic.
Talking about the partnership, the EAM said, “On connectivity, for example, we will say that we cannot have a grand initiative, but we will have a development partnership. That is exactly what my Prime Minister said when he visited Africa. He said we are ready to do much more in Africa, but we want to know what you want. We would like to know your priority and we would like you to take part in it. Later, we would also like you to own and operate it, once we have set it up. This is our style of doing things, it may not make a splash in many ways, but it is still there.”
On the topic of Afghanistan, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar suggested that the work India has done there might not make the headlines but assured with a 'degree of confidence' that the people of Afghanistan know India's real contribution.
"We believe in a more collaborative, more co-owned kind of work. I would say this for my country, others might differ, I would much rather try to create a sense of partnership in my engagements rather than people believing that the thing I am doing is completely mine. This is more likely to stay and give me the kind of returns that I really want.“