India's Foreign Minister Stresses Importance of Acknowledging Cultural Differences, Cites Israel Example

India's FM highlights how faith and culture have influenced its foreign policy, from past diffidence to current confidence in engaging globally on its own terms.

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India's Foreign Minister Stresses Importance of Acknowledging Cultural Differences, Cites Israel Example

India's Foreign Minister Stresses Importance of Acknowledging Cultural Differences, Cites Israel Example

S. Jaishankar, India's External Affairs Minister, recently discussed the significance of recognizing differences in faith and culture in shaping foreign policy. Speaking at an event, Jaishankar highlighted Israel as an example of how religious considerations have influenced India's diplomatic relations in the past.

Jaishankar pointed out that India chose not to have an ambassador or embassy in Israel from 1948 to 1992, and no Indian Prime Minister visited the country until Narendra Modi. "This suggests that faith has played a role in India's policy decisions," Jaishankar stated. "The Western media criticizes India's democracy because they consider themselves to be 'political players' in India's elections."

The External Affairs Minister also addressed India's transition from "diffidence to confidence," marked by a shift in mindset. He emphasized the concept of "vishwabandhu," which aims to engage with as many countries as possible. Jaishankar stressed the importance of self-belief, exemplified by the "Make in India" initiative, and the direct link between confidence and capability.

Why this matters: Jaishankar's remarks shed light on the complex interplay between religion, culture, and foreign policy. As India seeks to assert its role on the global stage, understanding the historical and cultural factors that shape its diplomatic relationships becomes increasingly important.

Jaishankar argued that vote bank politics have influenced India's foreign policy in the past, particularly in relation to Israel. He noted that the abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, corrected a mistake made in 1947. The minister also discussed the Citizenship Amendment Act, which aims to provide citizenship to minorities who have nowhere else to go.

Regarding the treatment of Indians abroad, Jaishankar stated, "Indians should not be subjected to second-class treatment in other countries." He revealed that the Ministry of External Affairs is negotiating with various countries, mainly in Europe, to form mobility agreements that ensure fair treatment for Indian citizens.

Jaishankar's comments underscore the evolving nature of India's foreign policy, driven by a newfound sense of confidence and a willingness to engage with the world on its own terms. As India navigates the intricacies of the international landscape, acknowledging the role of cultural and religious factors in shaping diplomatic ties remains critical.

Key Takeaways

  • Jaishankar highlighted how faith influenced India's past foreign policy, e.g. Israel.
  • India is transitioning from "diffidence to confidence" in its global engagement.
  • Jaishankar criticized "vote bank politics" for shaping India's past foreign policy.
  • India is negotiating mobility agreements to ensure fair treatment for its citizens abroad.
  • Acknowledging cultural and religious factors is critical for India's evolving foreign policy.