No one pushes India around; nobody needs to preach to India: Kamboj

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Ruchira Kamboj. Photo: Twitter @ruchirakamboj

India is a big country that “stands tall and proud on its own” with its own relations with competing international blocs and nobody pushes it around. That was the message from India’s Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, when she was asked at a news conference about Russia’s Foreign Minister’s assertion that the western military group NATO was pushing New Delhi towards an anti-Moscow and anti-Beijing alliance.

“India is a bigger country. It stands tall and proud on its own,” she said emphasizing its multidimensional, independent policy.

“We do have a relationship with Russia, an important relationship with Russia,” she said. “And as far as the relationship with the United States is concerned, it’s a comprehensive strategic partnership, which has never been closer, tighter or stronger than it is today,” she said.

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India has taken over the presidency of the UN Security Council when it is paralysed on the invasion of Ukraine by veto-wielding Russia and the global tensions reflected in it.

India’s open lines of communication to the West and to Russia could be useful in this context.

Ukraine issues were not included in the Council’s program of work for the month adopted on Thursday but Kamboj said she expected it to come up.

Looking from the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that is driving the discourse, Kamboj said, “We have been very clear and consistent right from the outset, we have spoken in one voice, that we are for peace. Peace is also a right. And we favor that diplomacy and dialogue.”

“To this end, our prime minister (Narendra Modi) is speaking to both sides, our foreign minister (S. Jaishankar) is speaking to both sides,” she said.

“We are among the few countries, dare I say this, which is speaking to both,” she said.

She recalled Modi telling Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, “This is not an era of war”, and said that it “has received global acceptance” and was included in the G20’s recent declaration.

G20, the group of major industrialized and emerging economies, at its summit in Bali last month accepted the wording for a consensus to adopt the declaration.

She also said that India has condemned the attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. Kamboj said that India was assisting Ukraine, sending it 12 medical consignments and financial assistance to build educational institutions.

As the world’s largest democracy with a legacy going back millenniums, nobody needs to preach to India, according to Kamboj.

“We don’t need to be told what to do on democracy,” she said here on Tuesday when an Italian journalist raised the criticism that press freedom was being eroded in the country.

She said, “India is perhaps the most ancient civilization in the world as all of you know. In India, democracy had roots going back to 2,500 years, 2,500 years, we were always a democracy.”

“We have all the pillars of democracy that are intact, legislature, executive, judiciary, and the fourth estates – the press and a very vibrant social media,” she said.

“Everyone is free to say as they wish and please, and that is how our country functions,” she added at her news conference after taking over the presidency of the Security Council.

“Every five years we conduct the world’s largest democratic exercise,” she pointed out referring to the general elections that have seen peaceful power transitions.

“It is rapidly reforming, transforming and changing and the trajectory has been very impressive,” she said.

“And I don’t have to say this, you don’t have to listen to me; others are saying,” Kamboj added.

Asked by a reporter about the protests in China and its government’s Covid policy, she said, “We don’t comment on the internal and domestic matters of other countries; it is not for us to comment on that.”

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