“Tried to take a particular theme and give it a Ramayan-type relevance”: Jaishankar on his new book ‘Why Bharat Matters’

Book jacket of S. Jaishankar’s book Why Bharat Matters. PHOTO: X @DrSJaishankar

New Delhi, January 2, 2024: Amid the buzz over his new book ‘Why Bharat Matters’ which talks of India’s quest to ascend the global hierarchy and New India drawing strength from the country’s civilisational heritage, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that he has attempted to take a particular theme and give it a “Ramayan-type” relevance.

In an interview with ANI, Jaishankar spoke about how Lord Ram carefully constructed a coalition to take on Ravana and how apart from Lord Hanuman, other characters in the Ramayan such as Angad, who practiced diplomatic skills in the face of difficult situations.
Asked whether his book was by an academician, a diplomat or a politician-turned-academician, Jaishankar said it is a mixture of all of them.

“The diplomat in me has, in a sense, you can say, the domain knowledge and the experience which I talk about. The politician in me feels the need to communicate that, as we said, to the everyday world, to the normal, to the ‘samanya nagrik’ (common citizen), you can say, and in a sense, look, if there are perhaps two sagas, two stories all of us have grown up with, this is really the Ramayan and Mahabharat,” he said.
The diplomat-turned-politician said people often use a multitude of metaphors, situations and comparisons in normal lives.

“If I were to talk to you chatting, I may bring up some reference there. So why I used that was also to remind people, look, we are multiple, sort of millennia-old civilizations. When we discuss the world, can we think about doing it on our terms and in our framework, in our construct. So there was that part of it also, that for me to think of the world as you can see, what I’ve tried to do is to take a particular theme and to try to give it a Ramayan-type relevance,” Jaishankar told ANI.

“So say, for example, I’ve used coalition building, how Lord Ram very carefully constructs a coalition and what it takes to construct a coalition. It doesn’t happen by itself or even in diplomacy, you’ve heard me say before that the two preeminent examples of diplomats are Hanuman and Shri Krishna. But there are others, Angad, for example, or even his mother, Tara. These are people who, in very difficult situations, practice their diplomatic skills,” he added.

Jaishankar has in the past also highlighted the importance of Mahabharata and the Ramayana while talking of diplomacy.

Asked about the book’s last chapter ‘Why Bharat Matters’, Jaishankar explained that the term Bharat has not just a cultural civilizational connotation but also of a certain confidence and identity.

“I want people to read the other ten chapters before getting there…But look, there’s a very active debate right now. The fact is, to me the term Bharat has a certain, not just a cultural civilizational connotation, but also one of a certain confidence and identity. How you perceive yourself because that is my business. What are the terms you’re offering to the world? This to not to me something which is a narrow political debate or I would even say in that sense even a historical-cultural debate, it is a mindset. And the point I make is that if we are preparing seriously for the Amrit Kaal in the next 25 years, if we are talking of a Viksit Bharat, a developed Bharat, that can only happen if you are an Atmanirbhar Bharat.” Jaishankar said.

The External Affairs Minister had on December 30 presented the first copy of his book ‘Why Bharat Matters’ to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a post on X, the former Indian Foreign Service Officer Jaishankar posted about his meeting with PM Modi. “Honoured to present the first copy of my book ‘Why Bharat Matters’ to PM @narendramodi this evening.”

Sharing the text of the book, he wrote, “India’s quest to ascend the global hierarchy is an endless journey. But as we take stock of the progress made and anticipate the challenges ahead, it is certainly reassuring that this is propelled by such deep national commitment and confidence. Whether it is drawing strength from its heritage and culture or approaching challenges with the optimism of democracy and technology, this is certainly a New India.”

The book will be out in early 2024. “The English edition of my new book ‘Why Bharat Matters’ would be out in early 2024. Do read.” Jaishankar had said on X.

In his previous book, “The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World,” Jaishankar who served as India’s ambassador to China and the US, among other roles analyses the challenges for India and spells out possible policy responses in the decade from the 2008 global financial crisis to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here