'Injustice Was Done To India': S Jaishankar On India's 'Silence' Over Russia-Ukraine War

Addressing the Nikkei Forum on the India-Japan partnership in Tokyo, Japan, Jaishankar spoke about India's viewpoint of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, its relationship with China and the current status of the national economy.

Eugene Hoshiko (PTI)
EAM S Jaishankar in Japan and Yoko Kamikawa Photo: Eugene Hoshiko (PTI)

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was asked about India's 'silence' over the matter of Russian invasion of Ukraine during his Japan visit, to which he responded by pointing out that the world has been silent while India still struggle to fight aggression by neighbouring states after its independence.

Addressing the Nikkei Forum on the India-Japan partnership in Tokyo, Japan, Jaishankar spoke about India's viewpoint of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, its relationship with China and the current status of the national economy.

India's 'silence' over Russia-Ukraine war

When asked about India's relationship with Russia and its criticism of Moscow's war in Ukraine, Jaishankar said, "Sometimes in world politics, countries pick one issue, one situation, one principle and they highlight it because it suits them. But if one looks at the principle itself, we in India know better than almost any other country."

He further spoke about the experience India had while it was and still is defending itself against aggression on its borders, "Immediately after our independence, we experienced aggression, an effort to change our boundaries and even today parts of India are occupied by another country but we did not see the world respond saying, oh, there's a great principle involved and therefore, let us all go with India."

"Today we are being told that there are principles involved. I wish I'd seen that principle in play for the last 80 years. I've seen those principles cherry-picked," Jaishankar added.

"I would say injustice was done to us. I'm not advocating it should be done to everybody else. We have been very clear. My Prime Minister has stood next to President Putin and said we want to see the end to this conflict," he said.

Jaishankar then spoke about India's role as an Asian neighbour, he said, "Due to the tragic conflict taking place in Ukraine, energy costs went up, food costs went up, fertiliser costs went up and a country like Sri Lanka had this huge economic crisis."

"If you see which countries stepped forward to help Sri Lanka, India put together a package within a matter of a few weeks, in fact, a few months which was four and a half billion dollars. Just so that you understand, the IMF packet which took much longer was less than USD 3 billion. So our direct bilateral support we gave to Sri Lanka was 50 per cent larger than what the IMF gave," he added.

Jaishankar on India's economy

Jaishankar said that India as a big economy understood its obligations and took its Global South responsibility very seriously.

He said, "We do recognise today that as a big economy, we have more responsibilities. But I also would like the world to recognise that we may be a big economy but we are still an economy whose per capita income is below USD 3,000. So when we give something to the world, it is done with a great deal of sacrifice and a great effort on the part of the people of India. Indians' sense of international obligation is very strong. As I said during vaccination while we had not completed our vaccination yet we gave vaccines. So we take our global south responsibility very, very seriously."

India's stance in China-Taiwan conflict

In response to a question whether India would impose sanctions on China if it invaded Taiwan, Jaishanakr said: "Let me make two or three observations here. By and large, it has not been India's foreign policy method. We rarely do sanctions."

China views Taiwan, a self-governing island, as a rebel province that must be reunified with the mainland even by force.

"The sanctions are something which is very much rooted in a Western way or I would say a G7 way of working because they control the means to apply the sanctions. I'm trying to think the only time when we have very strongly advocated sanctions ourselves was against South Africa during the apartheid period when most of the developed countries did not want to do sanctions.

"In today's situation, there is a big debate about whether sanctions work or they don't work. What is the cost? What is the cost to people? I just want to make one point it has nothing to do with Taiwan or China or Russia."

Talking as to how a stable government can significantly carve a country's foreign policy, Jaishankar said: "Every country, every society is different. So what can apply to India need not always be the same for other countries. But our own experience is that the lack of stability in politics affects foreign diplomacy. To have majorities in Parliament to take bold steps makes a very big difference. Here, I am certain that we have a stable government for at least a decade or even more."

He said huge changes were happening in terms of development in India and that India's economy was growing rapidly along with employment opportunities.

"And that is one of the changes which is happening today. Today India stands third in the number of startups in the world and the number of unicorns which have come up in this period are inspirational. On the semiconductor side, this is the industry of the future. This is where the jobs will grow. We've had companies from abroad actually employ people in India," he said.

(With PTI inputs)