Calling Bengaluru his favourite city, India’s External affairs minister S Jaishankar charmed the audience at FICCI FLO Bangalore right from the word go. The aura of the man seemed to be in complete sync with the city as he reminisced about grandparents home on Queens road, the masala rava dosa at MTR, the beautiful flowers at Lal Bagh and all the walks at Cubbon Park. When asked about what the first impression on Bangalore was, he promptly replied, it was cold, in 1962! A lot warmer now, the city is a lot hotter, pun intended, as Bangalore put India on the world map after Y2K, with the technology boom. As the service sector rose meteorically Dr Jaishankar goads the city to be mindful for the necessity of manufacturing too. Data was the new oil, but now chip is the new data. In the first minutes addressing the room full of women he obviously talked of Nari Shakti and the whole deal of Atmanirbhar Bharat. A leader is one who can think macro at every instance, with that came the country’s policies concerning the globe.
By saying I will do to you as you do to me, you constraint yourself, he says, staying a very obvious life lesson. Make the neighbors Co-partners, an idea gleaned from our honourable Prime Minister, who invited the leaders of our neighbouring countries during the swearing in in 2014. Mentality today to deal with neighbours is very different he says, as India prioritised it’s neighbours over the several crisis in the last decade. Even vaccines and supplies were promptly shipped across even as the country grappled with supplies. As data is mined, harvested and employed, being in the know and how is quite important says the minister who’s Netflix lists make him super relatable. It is undoubtedly the best time to be Indian in India today, says the compulsive traveler who’s occupational hazard is a thing of envy for many. The country is dream, except for its passport said the audience who posed tough questions on the strength of the rupee, dual citizenship and visa hassles as Indian passport holders require visas to a whole lot of countries. Explaining why India cannot consider dual citizenship or even allowing a friendlier passport, he highlighted the strides the country has made in getting its denizens a passport with barely any wait.
When talking of India and it’s allies, India’s external affairs said that the way to go for India would be to definitely collaborate with Japan. The learnings could be immense he says as Japan has seen the worst of it all and emerged quite victorious as it’s value based system of life has only been strengthened over time. All Asian countries historically had a problem, but we don’t have a historical baggage with Japan and when Japan is trying to do something with the world, India would do well to hop on! His Japanese wife would be quite proud by the looks of it. One must contribute what one can in one’s capacity rather than look at the act of contribution as a tit for tat mechanism. With that comes the way of being the bigger person and India’s diplomatic policy has always been to be the biggest person.
When we extend a hand it works, to all parties concerned. The Western world expects a binary reaction, stating one is an ally or not. India isn’t like that, historically or even today not leaning into one side, being the harbinger of the Non-Aligned movement. The problem with an alliance is you are buying into a lot of things that you do not like or agree with or will end up having to comply with and therein lies the problem of alignment. A personal lesson if not a rather public one, I must say. One more point highlighted then was how the Narendra Modi cabinet is extolled for putting to rest older laws and rules that have gone defunct long before being scrapped. The idea is to put to rest laws and policies that do not make sense in a fast changing world as on today.
Diplomatic relations have a new meaning in today’s knowledge economy and data mining, where the country speaks for itself. Yet the man is one in a million, speaking for a billion, contributing a gazillion in thought, word and deed. The greatness of a a great person lies in the aura they bring to a room, that we got to see in person!