Hope ‘mi­nus one’ too comes around some day: Dr J

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - TIMES NEWS NET­WORK

New Delhi: In an ob­vi­ous ref­er­ence to Pak­istan, ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­is­ter S Jais­hankar said on Fri­day that In­dia’s neigh­bour­hood, “mi­nus one”, had been a “fairly good story” for re­gional co­op­er­a­tion.

Ad­dress­ing the In­dia Eco­nomic Sum­mit in New Delhi, Jais­hankar said, “I would say that the en­tire neigh­bour­hood, mi­nus one, has ac­tu­ally been a fairly good story of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion. Mi­nus one is not for­ever. I’d hope some day, even the mi­nus one comes around. I al­ways re­main hope­ful. I’m not un­re­al­is­tic. They have a mind­set is­sue that they have to over­come.”

He fur­ther said, “You put Kash­mir aside for a mo­ment... To­day, with every­body else, trade, busi­ness, con­nec­tiv­ity and con­tacts are in­creas­ing. Surely, at some stage, that would have an im­pact be­cause you would see every­body else pros­per­ing with that co­op­er­a­tion.”

In a con­ver­sa­tion with World Eco­nomic Fo­rum chief Borge Brende, Jais­hankar said In­dia had a very good story to tell about its re­la­tion­ships in the neigh­bour­hood, “mi­nus one”. Ex­plain­ing In­dia’s neigh­bour­hood pol­icy, he said, “The In­dian sub­con­ti­nent is among the least re­gion­alised economies. PM Naren­dra Modi feels we need to do some­thing about this and the In­dian econ­omy is a lift­ing tide for this.”

The ab­ro­ga­tion of Ar­ti­cle 370 did come up in his meet­ings dur­ing the re­cent US visit, he added. Mak­ing na­tion­al­ism an ac­cept­able po­si­tion, Jais­hankar said there was no doubt the world had be­come more na­tion­al­is­tic, and a lot of that was eco­nomic na­tion­al­ism and cul­tural na­tion­al­ism. In In­dia’s case, na­tion­al­ism was not a neg­a­tive sen­ti­ment di­rected at the world, he said. “In­dia is an ex­cep­tion as we are more na­tion­al­is­tic, but at the same time, we don’t see a ten­sion be­tween be­ing na­tion­al­is­tic and be­ing in­ter­na­tional in the sense of en­gag­ing more with the world... so na­tion­al­ism is not a neg­a­tive sen­ti­ment,” he added.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing that he had spo­ken ex­ten­sively on the de­ci­sion on Ar­ti­cle 370 in the US, Jais­hankar said, “That is nat­u­ral for many peo­ple when there is a change of sta­tus.” He elab­o­rated on the back­ground, his­tory, “why we did what we did” and as­serted that a lot of it was new to the peo­ple he dis­cussed the mat­ter with. “Hardly any­body had the re­al­i­sa­tion that this was a tem­po­rary ar­ti­cle in the Con­sti­tu­tion or the mis­align­ment due to the fact that a lot of na­tional laws did not ap­ply in J&K,” he said.

For­eign min­is­ter S Jais­hankar at the In­dia Eco­nomic Sum­mit, 2019, in New Delhi on Fri­day

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