‘India really matters more in this polarized world”: India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar

From left, Sanjay Verma, Secretary (West), MEA, Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar, and India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ruchira Kamboj, during the press conference at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in NYC Sept. 24, 2022. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

New York: India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said he came away from the UN General Assembly (UNGA) meetings with a renewed sense of understanding of India’s growing role on the global stage.

Jaishankar was speaking to the media shortly after his speech at the 77th UNGA Session  Sept. 24, 2022.

“At a time when normal diplomacy is not working that well, I think for a country like India, which has so many relationships and such an ability to communicate and to find touch points with different countries and regions — I am concluding this week with the sense that India really matters more in this polarized world,” Jaishankar said at the briefing held in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN in New York City.

“Much of that is also due to the Prime Minister’s leadership and his image, what he has done on the global stage. About his role in COP26, and what he had done in some of the regional gatherings recently,” Jaishankar added.

During his stay in New York, Jaishankar met more than 100 foreign ministers, and participated in several group meetings, such as The Quad (U.S., Japan India and Australia), BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), IBSA Fund (India, Brazil, South Africa for South-South cooperation), CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), and L.69 (Group of countries from Africa, Latin America and Asia-Pacific). He also held a series of trilateral meetings – India-France-Australia, India-France-UAE and India-Indonesia-Australia.

Jaishankar addressed the Security Council session on Ukraine, met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and President of the General Assembly Csaba Korosi, in addition to attending a number of events organized on the sidelines of UNGA High-Level Week.

India is perceived widely as the voice of the Global South, Jaishankar said, given a frustration that the region’s issues and anxieties are gone unheard.

He also noted a number of countries mentioned India from the General Assembly body, further reaffirming India’s growing significance; the impact of India’s initiatives such as Vaccine Maitri and development programs in Ukraine – added a sense that India was there for the world in times of distress.

Add to that, India’s proactive role in addressing climate issues in a year full of climate emergencies.

On climate change, he noted, the International Solar Alliance initiated by India now has over 100 members, along with the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure resulting in tremendous interest in the One Sun-One World-One Grid initiative.

“So, the belief that India today is a very major player, major contributor, and major shaper in the climate debates,” was a major takeaway from the global meeting.

For the high level of solidarity within the Global South, he credited the Prime Minister Modi for “translating vision into delivery.”

On the bilateral front, Jaishankar said his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov focused on cooperation between India and Russia, Ukraine, United Nation’s reforms, and the G20 group of 19 countries and the European Union, that addresses global economic issues.

India is assuming the G20 presidency later this year and Jaishankar met several counterparts and the UNGA President Csaba Korosi on this matter.

“I conveyed very clearly that our endeavor would be to ensure that the G20 remains cohesive, remains focused, and that the G20 historically has an agenda. That agenda is primarily financial, economic development, and social agenda. And we would like it to keep to that,” he said.

About Security Council Reforms, Jaishankar’s discussions stressed the need for a practical and tangible basis and a format for discussion. “It’s incredible that after so many years, there’s actually no text. So, how does the negotiation advance if there is no text, no progress, no stock-taking, and no end of the year assessment?” he questioned. “Because in the absence of a text, it just goes round and round. So, a lot of our discussions with people was also for the Intergovernmental Negotiations process to get serious, then we must move it towards text-based negotiation. I think there’s a growing appreciation of the need for that,” he said.

“Even the president of the General Assembly in his remarks spoke about it fairly strongly and fairly explicitly. So, we have to see. We’ve got some tailwind behind us.” India has over the years developed broad support for permanent membership in the UNSC.

On Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Jaishankar said it has come back into play.

“When you look at the SDG focus, there is clearly a sense of India as a country, where there’s been a dramatic change in the landscape because of the effective usage of the digital backbone. So, there’s a lot of interest in the Indian experience,” and its relevance for other countries.



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