External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said the image of India today is that of a country that is willing to go to any extent to protect its national security. Every country has its challenges and no challenge is as sharp as that of national security, he said, adding that India is a country that will neither be pushed out nor will it allow its basic bottom lines to be crossed. The minister was addressing ‘Festival of Thinkers’, an event organised by Symbiosis International University here.
”In the last few years, we have been tested for a long time on our western border. I think things are a little different now and everyone will agree. Few things had happened in 2016 and 2019 and we have been tested and we are being tested on our northern borders,” he said.
How India comes through this test will show our ability to stand up, Jaishankar said. ”We have today the image of the country which is willing to do what it takes to defend its national security. It (India) is a very forbearing country, a patient country, it is not a country that goes around picking fights with other people, but it is a country that will not be pushed out. This is a country that will not allow its basic bottom lines to be crossed,” he said.
”Since it is a polarised world, different countries will try to prejudice you. They will urge you. Sometimes they use pretty strong words. Now how do you stand up for your interests and sometimes the interests of others who may not have the same ability and strengths that you do. We are seeing that today,” he added. Referring to the Ukraine conflict, he said the pressures which came with that conflict were also the moment when our sense of independence and sense of confidence were tested.
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”We are seen as independent and also seen as not just standing up for our rights, which we should and we are (doing it), but we are also becoming the voice of the global south. Last month, we had a consultation process ahead of the G20. It was the first time it happened. We as the president of the G20, at the level of Prime Minister, myself, Finance Minister, Trade Minister and Environment Minister, had a consultation with 125 countries of the global south. ”We want to go into G20 saying that there is a large part of the world which is not sitting on that table but they have a legitimate interest and somebody needs to speak up for them. India today is perceived by the rest of the G20 not only as the voice of independence and self-confidence but also as the voice of the global south,” Jaishankar said.