External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday, June 6 addressed the first public function after taking charge of the ministry. Speaking at inaugural of the opening plenary of Changing World, Changing India, Jaishankar expressed the reasons for sidelining SAARC and focussing on BIMSTEC.
Speaking on SAARC, he said: "SAARC has certain problems, we all know, other than Cross border terror, there are connectivity issues, trade issues. We see energy in Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic CooperationBIMSTEC, the mindset in BIMSTEC. The primary responsibility on India, to lift our neighbours. Most South Asian countries understand that resisting connectivity is holding them back. SAARC has certain problems, even if you put terrorism aside, there are connectivity issues. BIMSTEC has energy, we want to progress with that."
He also added: "There is a clear need for India to focus on regional connectivity. As a foreign minister, these are areas where India can improve."
Jaishankar also spoke on the rise of nationalism in the world, emphasizing that India's nationalism is positive with the citizen giving its validity electorally. On Nationalism, he said:
"In the world, broadly there is a growth of nationalism, that nationalism has been validated electorally in many places. At one level, each is different, but somewhere there is some message there. Nationalism in India is the nationalism of confidence, year on year they feel that their prospects have improved, they feel their cultures need to get a fairer hearing than they did in the past. But there is nationalism in other places that are the nationalism of insecurity. There is stagnation, the quality of their life have not improved. As for India, the short answer would be looking at the election result. Five years of the government has kept alive and perhaps even strengthened the expectation of change in this country."
Noting his role as the one who leads the MEA, he said that one big responsibility of the ministry is project execution. He also said that WTO is not perfect.
"WTO isn't perfect but smart countries don't engage only with one power centre, there are multiple arrangements, we need to introduce changes in approach. You cannot engage with one country at the cost of exclusion of other, EAM Jaishankar said.