Shaking Up The Int’l Order
Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, the Indian Minister of External Affairs, has presented the Global Food, Energy and Economic Crisis, as well as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War, to Europe in a different manner. He has also informed Europe that India has been importing arms and fuel from Russia for the past six decades, as the West was not with the South Asian nation when the latter was facing problems. Instead, Europe’s contribution in this regard has mainly been to the Military Government in neighbouring Pakistan. The Indian Minister has strongly criticised the Western World for identifying Democracy and Dictatorship according to its own convenience.
During his visit to Austria in the first week of 2023, Dr Jaishankar took on Europe’s ‘war profiteer‘ allegation, stating: “Europeans needed a wake-up call to understand the shaking up of international order, and to understand that the difficult aspects of life are not always taken care of by others.” He added: “No region will bestable if dominated by a single power.” In Vienna, the visiting Indian Minister hinted that the Narendra Modi Administration would be fully prepared to face challenges during India’s Presidency of G-20. He raised several issues, targeting Europe, while talking to the local media, in the presence of his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg. According to Dr Jaishankar, each country has its own security and diplomatic policies, and no one can force a country to change them.
It may be noted that Europe and the US have been urging India to snap trade ties with Russia since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Earlier, Europe had criticised India for purchasing Russian oil. In Vienna, the Indian Minister questioned the US’ decision of not lifting the sanctions on Iranian and Venezuelan oil, saying: “Why the countries in Europe and West and the US don’t allow Iranian oil in the market and why don’t they allow Venezuelan oil to come to the market? They have squeezed every other source of oil we have and then (they’d) say ‘you will not go to the market (and get the best deal for the people)’. It’s not a fair approach.” The Indian External Affairs Minister further stated: “Europe wanted to develop within its own space, and to keep, in the process, as far away from international problems, as possible. Europe focused on trade, emphasised multilateralism, and used its economic influence to shape the world on its own terms on issues, such as Climate Change and Human Rights. Europe, again, wants to be involved in tough security issues.“
When asked about India’s role as the current President of the G-20 in the context of Ukraine crisis, Dr Jaishankar replied: “India’s position in terms of the Ukrainian conflict is very clear, that it wants a de-escalation of tensions. We favour an immediate cessation of hostilities. It is not that we have ignored it unless you call phone calls to (Vladimir) Putin and (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy as ignoring something.“
The Western powers recently criticised India for not joining the Democratic alliance against Autocratic Russia and China. In the Austrian capital, the Indian Minister stressed that New Delhi was ready to join a fundamental debate on what constitutes a Democratic World and who is connected to whom. He recalled that Military Dictatorship used to exist in Pakistan and Myanmar (in India’s neighbourhood). While the West imposed sanctions on Myanmar, it described Pakistan as an important partner of NATO. Dr Jaishankar also urged the West to decide the acceptable definition of Democracy first, asserting that India never made foreign policy choices that were “cynical or transactional” in nature.
Meanwhile, Dr Jaishankar has claimed that the Indian society is argumentative, stressing that debates and criticisms constantly arise on various issues in India, and it means that the democratic climate exists in this country. “If I were to take Europe collectively which has been singularly silent on many things which were happening,… for example, in Asia, you could ask why anybody in Asia should trust Europe on anything at all,” he told the Austrian media.
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