Most People Agree Modi 2.0 Got One Thing Right – Jaishankar As EAM
Here’s why everyone’s happy with former foreign secretary S Jaishankar’s elevation to External Affairs Minister.
Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
Cameraperson: Shiv Kumar Maurya
Former foreign secretary S Jaishankar has been sworn in as the new External Affairs Minister in PM Modi's new cabinet and it's been the most well-received elevation of Modi 2.0. Foreign experts, journalists, Indian analysts, and even members of the Opposition have all congratulated the government on the excellent pick.
Because Jaishankar has the experience, the skill, and commands the international respect to be able to supercharge India's foreign policy. He has served as Indian envoy to two of India's most important bilateral relationships – the US and China – and he has also served as Foreign Secretary during Modi's first term.
He has steered India through some of its toughest diplomatic quagmires and come out smiling.
The Brains Behind Modi’s New York Blitz
Remember Modi's blockbuster performance at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2014?
The one where he referenced Star Wars, and everyone went gaga? It was a flashy spectacle that thousands of Indian Americans flocked to see.
And it was significant, because it was the first time that Modi had been allowed to visit the US since his diplomatic visa had been denied over his involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots – it completed Modi's return to the diplomatic fold.
Jaishankar was credited with organising that visit, and raising India’s profile at a time when Indo-US interests had been converging.
That trip helped to bolster India's relationship with the world's only superpower and set the tone for Modi's future foreign trips.
Helped Cement Indo-US Nuclear Deal
The Indo-US civil nuclear deal was significant, not just for the obvious benefit of being able to transfer sensitive technology and equipment for nuclear power, but more importantly, it was a solid legitimisation of India's nuclear power and a recognition of India as a responsible global player.
Jaishankar was ambassador to the US at the time and one of the prominent faces in negotiations – not only was the civil nuclear deal hammered out during that time but as part of it, India was also granted a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers' Group to carry out such transfers.
The NSG is an exclusive grouping of nuclear nations committed to non-proliferation and the safe transfer of nuclear technology – non-members are not allowed to do these kinds of transfers (incidentally, Pakistan and Iran have been in hot water for flouting these restrictions).
India is not formally recognised by the international community as a nuclear state, much like Pakistan and Iran are not, and so does not have NSG membership either.
But the NSG waiver was a nod from the international community indicating that it took India seriously and trusted it to use its nuclear power responsibly.
The only reason India is currently not already a member of the NSG, is China's veto. But that's a whole other story.
Then there was the Doklam standoff in 2016. While the standoff didn't exactly end in India's favour as such, it didn't blow up into anything like a war either, the way it easily could have.
Jaishankar was foreign secretary throughout the crisis and played a big part in the successful climbdown from the weeks-long sabre-rattling.
So with Jaishankar now driving India's foreign policy as External Affairs Minister, expectations – and hopes – are high.
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