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“Immense Honour,” Jaishankar On Taking Charge As India’s External Affairs Minister

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New Delhi: BJP leader S Jaishankar who steered India’s diplomatic course during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term took charge as External Affairs Minister once again in the new government and resumed his duties at the Ministry of External Affairs in South Block on Tuesday.

“It is an immense honour to be once again given the responsibility of leading the Ministry of External Affairs,” the 69-year-old career diplomat turned politician said outside his office at South Block. He added that PM Modi has given the ‘Bharat first’ foreign policy. Reflecting on the achievements of the previous term, he highlighted the ministry’s exceptional performance, citing milestones such as delivering the G20 presidency and spearheading vital initiatives like Vaccine Maitri amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, Jaishankar underscored the foreign ministry’s people-centric approach under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We also were the centre of crucial operations like Operation Ganga and Operation Kaveri. In the last decade, this ministry under the leadership of PM Modi has become a very people-centric ministry. You can see that in terms of our improved passport services, community welfare fund support that we give to Indians abroad,” he said.

Jaishankar provided insights into India’s diplomatic roadmap for the next five years, emphasising stability, resolution of border issues with China, and addressing cross-border terrorism with Pakistan. “In any country and especially in a democracy, it is a very big deal for a government to get elected three times in a row. So the world will definitely feel that today there is a lot of political stability in India,” Jaishankar said, highlighting India’s rare achievement of consecutive electoral victories, underscoring the nation’s robust democratic framework.

The External Affairs Minister further delineated the nuanced approach towards India’s relationships with Pakistan and China, acknowledging the distinct challenges each presents. “As far as Pakistan and China are concerned, the relations with those countries are different, and the problems there are also different,” he stated, recognising the multifaceted nature of bilateral ties.

Regarding India’s stance on China, Jaishankar reiterated that the priority remains to find a solution to the longstanding border issues. “Our focus with regard to China will be on finding a solution for the border issues,” he affirmed, signalling India’s commitment to resolving territorial disputes through dialogue and diplomatic channels.

Addressing the issue of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan, Jaishankar emphasised India’s determination to seek a resolution. “With Pakistan, we would want to find a solution to the issue of years-old cross-border terrorism,” he stated.

Looking ahead, Jaishankar articulated a vision of India as a global leader, stating, “Together, we are very confident it will position us as ‘Vishwa Bandhu’, a country which is in a very turbulent world, in a very divided world, a world of conflicts and tensions. It would actually position us as a country which is trusted by many, whose prestige and influence, whose interests will be advanced.”

On his first day in office in the Modi 3.0 cabinet, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra and Secretary (West) Pawan Kapoor welcomed Jaishankar with a bouquet. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his council of ministers, including Jaishankar were sworn in at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday.

The BJP leader served as External Affairs Minister during PM Modi’s second term from 2019-2024. Jaishankar further also welcomed Kirti Vardhan Singh and Pabitra Margherita the Ministers of State in the newly constituted cabinet of the BJP-led NDA government under the leadership of PM Modi.

EAM also applauded his team and stated that Team MEA has focused on a foreign policy centred on people over the last decade. Their dedication to putting India (Bharat) first and embracing the concept of the world as one family (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam) will help India become a friend to all nations (Vishwabandhu Bharat).

Jaishankar has been a stalwart BJP MP in Rajya Sabha from Gujarat since 2019. Jaishankar, who has made headlines for his witty replies and oratory skills, has been at the centre stage in the team shaping India’s foreign policy for the past decade. Before being the EAM in 2019, Jaishankar also served as India’s Foreign Secretary from 2015 to 2018. Notably, he also became the first Foreign Secretary to assume the role of External Affairs Minister.

Jaishankar’s tenure which began in 2019 as India’s EAM came amid massive uncertainties owing to global turbulence and conflicts. His tenure saw episodes like the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Israel-Hamas war, and the COVID-19 pandemic, all of which left a strong impact on not just the Indian economy but also that of the whole world.

But, during these turbulent times, India’s stand was marked by the priority of ‘Nation First’. Regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict, India has always condemned civilian killings and called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. However, despite pressure from the West, India has not refrained from purchasing Russian oil below the price cap.

In the Israel-Hamas war, India strongly condemned the October 7 terror attack but has also continued with its weight behind the ‘two-state solution’ to the long-running Israel-Palestine conflict. India has also sent humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza as part of its commitment.

Jaishankar, who entered India’s Foreign Service in 1977, has served as India’s envoy in several prominent countries such as the United States (2013-15) and China (2009-13). He also served as India’s Ambassador to Czech Republic (2000-04) and Indian High Commissioner to Singapore (2007-09). In his earlier stints, he served as third secretary and second secretary at the Indian Embassy in the Soviet Union (before the disintegration of the Soviet Union). Jaishankar also worked as an undersecretary in the Ministry of External Affairs’ Americas Division.

Recently, Jaishankar also made a deeper foray into politics, by taking part in the election campaign for the BJP. He addressed several interactions and events and elaborated on how India has asserted it globally with its foreign policy. During one of the events, Jaishankar slammed the Western media over the “negative” coverage of Indian elections and said that the countries that “have to go to court for deciding election results” are giving “gyan” on conducting polls.

In another event, he underscored that “Viksit Bharat” is not just a slogan but a serious commitment towards India’s future. “I can feel today that we are at the point of something very big. The world is also watching us. I see these 25 years as a period of new opportunities, new technologies, and new challenges,” he said.

 

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