15th Meet­ing of the For­eign Min­is­ters of Rus­sia, In­dia and China

Business Sphere - - FOREIGN AFFAIRS - By Our Cor­re­spon­dent

Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov and Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs of the Peo­ple's Repub­lic of China Wang Yi will visit In­dia on 11 De­cem­ber 2017. Dur­ing their visit, they will take part, to­gether with the host EAM Smt. Sushma Swaraj, in the 15th RIC (Rus­sia, In­dia, China) for­eign min­is­te­rial meet­ing in New Delhi on 11 De­cem­ber 2017. The meet­ing is ex­pected to re­view global and re­gional is­sues of mu­tual in­ter­est as well as dis­cuss tri­lat­eral ex­changes and ac­tiv­i­ties. A joint com­mu­niqué is ex­pected to be re­leased fol­low­ing the meet­ing. FM Lavrov and FM Wang Yi are also ex­pected to call on Pres­i­dent Shri Ram Nath Kovind and have bi­lat­eral meet­ings with EAM. Dur­ing the visit, FM Lavrov is de­liv­er­ing a pub­lic lec­ture at Vivekanand In­ter­na­tional Foun­da­tion on the sub­ject ‘Global Af­fairs and new vis­tas of Rus­sia-In­dia co­op­er­a­tion’. Fur­ther, FM Wang Yi would be grac­ing an In­dia-China Cul­tural even­ing be­ing or­ga­nized at Pravasi Bhar­tiya Ken­dra.

M J Ak­bar, Min­is­ter of State for Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs at the INDIAASEAN Con­nec­tiv­ity Sum­mit in New Delhi

Maps are surely the most dy­namic, as well as the most prob­lem­atic, facts of history and ge­og­ra­phy; they can be­come a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of both walls that block­ade and doors that open. The 20th cen­tury saw a star­tling shift in the con­tin­ual flux of maps. For the first time in recorded history, maps were drawn not by the ag­gres­sion of em­pires but by the broad will of the peo­ple. The 20th cen­tury wit­nessed two sem­i­nal mo­ments. One was 1947, when the map of mod­ern, free In­dia took its place on the globe. The se­cond came 20 years later, in 1967, when five na­tions planted the seeds of a sapling that would grow into a banyan. The age of col­o­niza­tion ended the day In­dia won her free­dom, for Euro­pean col­o­niza­tion, which be­gan in In­dia, also ended in In­dia. ASEAN was a procla­ma­tion of what to do with in­de­pen­dence and free­dom: cre­ate a part­ner­ship for the peace­ful and pro­gres­sive way to­wards pros­per­ity. It is my con­vic­tion that the bridges we build be­tween In­dia and ASEAN will be­come a dom­i­nant in­flu­ence upon the 21st cen­tury. The ebb of em­pire across the world be­gan in the mid­dle of the 19th

cen­tury, and be­came ir­re­versible af­ter the col­lapse of Ot­toman, Rus­sian, Aus­tro-Hun­gar­ian and Ger­man em­pires in 1918. Within an­other quar­ter cen­tury, the great Euro­pean col­o­niz­ers, led by Bri­tain, were also in head­long re­treat. From this de­bris of em­pires and colonies emerged a star­tling, and even revo­lu­tion­ary, po­lit­i­cal for­ma­tion, the repub­li­can na­tion state. The stress is on repub­li­can. The whim and am­bi­tion of dy­nas­ties and au­to­crats was displaced by the will of the peo­ple. Of course the process has not been per­fect. In­her­i­tance is­sues from the machi­na­tion of col­o­niz­ers still oc­cupy our chanceries; space was even given to a bar­ren idea that spawned re­gres­sive vi­o­lence and the ter­ror­ism that haunts us now. The for­tu­nate part is that those na­tions who be­lieve in progress have found the means to reach one an­other through ei­ther neigh­bor-in­duced or mul­ti­lat­eral con­cen­tric cir­cles. This is a good mo­ment for a good question: what does ‘neigh­bour’ mean? The hu­man be­ing is still land­cen­tric. Our life, civ­i­liza­tion, cul­ture, agri­cul­ture, pro­duce and pro­duc­tion are still mea­sured largely in landterms. We there­fore look at neigh­bors through the medium of dis­tance. That, I would sug­gest, is be­com­ing ir­rel­e­vant. It is far more ac­cu­rate to de­fine neigh­bors by reach rather than dis­tance. There are hun­dreds of flights be­tween In­dia and ASEAN ev­ery week, and we could add hun­dreds more with­out ex­haust­ing de­mand. On the other hand, we can­not fill even three flights a week to a coun­try to our im­me­di­ate west. So who is a neigh­bor? If I can­not reach you, are you a neigh­bor or an ob­sta­cle? Our land-cen­tric ap­proach also tends to blind us to the sea map. The sea map of In­dia ex­tends to the Malacca straits, and the Indo-Pa­cific waters are al­ready one of the ma­jor ar­ter­ies of world com­merce. From An­damans, Aceh is less than 100 nau­ti­cal miles away; and it is said that on a clear night you can see the glow of Singapore’s lights from land’s end in An­damans. There is an air map as well. Chen­nai is only as far from Kuala Lumpur as it is from Delhi. Sim­i­larly, Delhi is ex­actly as far from Dubai as Dubai is from Cairo. Con­nec­tiv­ity has ac­quired ex­cit­ing and cre­ative di­men­sions. We are only at the edge of ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties in com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The 21st cen­tury will not be­long to land; it will be a cen­tury of the seas, skies and space. In­dia and ASEAN are neigh­bors in all senses of the word: dis­tance, reach and, per­haps most im­por­tant, in the cul­tural har­mony and po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy around which we have man­aged our na­tions and put them in the fore­front of moder­nity. Peo­ple of ev­ery faith live as equals in our lands; the mu­sic of mul­ti­ple lan­guages en­trances our en­vi­ron­ment; tra­di­tion merges seam­lessly into the present; and com­mon val­ues strengthen the spirit of a shared des­tiny for our cit­i­zens. Asia is, of course, syn­ony­mous with the east; but, in­ter­est­ingly, the word it­self has come from the west. It is a Greek word, which the Greeks used for the Le­vant, where lived their oldest ri­vals, the Tro­jans. As the Greeks dis­cov­ered the ex­panse of the east, Le­vant be­came Asia Mi­nor. Alexan­der over­whelmed the mighty Per­sian em­pire, which stretched from the Mediter­ranean to the In­dus; In­dia, of course, was the land be­yond the In­dus. As we all know, Alexan­der stopped in the Pun­jab – and prob­a­bly

lost his life thanks to a wound in an en­counter at Mul­tan – although he knew enough by then about the in­tel­lec­tual and ma­te­rial wealth of In­dia, and in­deed of the weak­ness of the preva­lent Nanda em­pire. The Por­tuguese were the first in­vaders to reach In­dia by sea. Trade was their first in­ter­est; dom­i­na­tion fol­lowed. Af­ter Water­loo in 1815, Bri­tain, as the pre­em­i­nent power, dou­bled the num­ber of ships to In­dia and China. Trade, it may be noted, is never neu­tral; it is the out­come of a knowl­edge edge in science, tech­nol­ogy and prow­ess. Bri­tain displaced In­dia and China in world mar­kets, no­tably Africa, where till the 18th cen­tury In­dian cal­ico and silk-cot­ton ruled the mar­kets. By 1850 Bri­tain was send­ing 17 mil­lion yards of fab­ric to west Africa alone, up from just one mil­lion in 1825. In the east, Europe kept adding each ge­o­graph­i­cal "dis­cov­ery” to the Asian pile. The short point is this: there was never re­ally a co­gent Asia, which is why the con­ti­nent is rid­dled with mis­nomers. Speak­ing at the Manama di­a­logue last week, I won­dered which east was the Mid­dle East in the mid­dle of. If Asia is the east, then it is In­dia that is the true mid­dle of the east. All you have to do is look at the map. Geo-po­lit­i­cally, and for many other rea­sons, In­dia is the piv­otal na­tion of Asia. ASEAN launched the process of re­def­i­ni­tion by con­cen­trat­ing on the logic of re­gional groups. The most im­por­tant as­pect of ASEAN was that its fo­cus was on the wel­fare of the peo­ple, which lay in trade, travel and eco­nomic growth; and not on the wel­fare of gov­ern­ments, which were rarely able to look be­yond their nose, or look be­yond a mil­i­tary al­liance. Such a vi­sion is re­mark­able at any time; that it should emerge in 1967, within the vicin­ity of Viet­nam, is al­most breath­tak­ing. De­col­o­niza­tion did not end con­flict. The last cen­tury has seen four world wars: the third was called Cold, but en­flamed South East Asia, with Viet­nam as the epi­cen­ter. When na­palm filled the skies, when China was gripped and ripped apart by the Cul­tural Revo­lu­tion, when In­dia was stum­bling through re­gional wars, food short­ages and the eco­nomic fog cre­ated by pseu­doso­cial­ism, some vi­sion­ar­ies were think­ing ahead, about a gar­den of peace. We must salute them. Why are In­dia and ASEAN nat­u­ral part­ners? Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has summed up the essence of his for­eign policy in an evoca­tive phrase: "Shared val­ues, com­mon des­tiny”. With­out val­ues, there is no des­tiny. What are the val­ues we share? We be­lieve that the prin­ci­pal mis­sion of gov­er­nance is the ris­ing well-be­ing of all cit­i­zens. We be­lieve in plu­ral­ism, and equal­ity of cul­ture and faith; and we rec­og­nize that the ex­is­ten­tial threat comes from ide­o­logues who be­lieve in faith­supremacy with their evil, bar­baric ter­ror­ist mili­tias. We be­lieve in so­cial jus­tice, and in gen­der eman­ci­pa­tion through eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment. We be­lieve in bridges, not bar­ri­ers; in free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion in all waters. We rec­og­nize what needs to be done in the fourth world war, the war against ter­ror­ism, and we know that rad­i­cal­iza­tion must be fought on the bat­tle­field as well as in the mind. We know that this re­quires con­vic­tion in our val­ues, and con­sis­tency in our pur­pose; that there is no good ter­ror­ism or bad ter­ror­ism, that it is un­mit­i­gated evil. Above all, we be­lieve in a hu­man­i­tar­ian phi­los­o­phy as the foun­tain­head of peace, seren­ity and shared, sus­tain­able pros­per­ity. This is why our part­ner­ship will be both a route map as well as the map of the hori­zons of the fu­ture.

Naren­dra Modi, Hon'ble Prime Min­is­ter of In­dia

M. J. Ak­bar, Min­is­ter of State for Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs

Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov and Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.