NEW DELHI: From giving cricket analogies to rejecting Quad as a “security group”, external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Friday touched upon a range of geopolitical and national issues during interactive sessions at the Raisina Dialogue in the national capital.Here are the highlights of Jaishankar’s remarks …On cricket, ‘RRR’ and India ‘dominating’ Britain
During an interactive session with former UK PM Tony Blair and ex-cricketer Kevin Pietersen, Jaishankar gave cricket analogies to describe India’s rising stature in the world.
Aasked about his opinion on India being a bigger economy than Britain and a country that dominates England in cricket and whether he would describe it as a “reversal of power”, he said that he would rather call it “switch-hitting”.
“I would call it rebalancing. It’s history switch hitting…India in very unusual position, once more decisively upwardly mobile which lot of other civilisational states aren’t in position to do,” he said.
The Union minister said that the most popular film in India was “RRR” which was based on the British era. “I would put it delicately, but you were the nice guys in the movie,” Jaishankar said in a lighter vain to Blair and Pietersen.
“The fact is that when you have this kind of complex history, there would be the downside …unresolved problems. At the same time there’d be similarities, and cricket happens to be one of that,” he said.
He said that earlier people suggested that India was better at the business of cricket than the game of cricket but barring today’s match (India was defeated by Australia), that has shifted as well.
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‘Captain Modi’ and his ‘bowlers’
Jaishankar likened Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a cricket team captain and said he gave his bowlers a certain amount of freedom while expecting them to take wickets.
Jaishankar said Modi’s knack of taking tough decisions was also on display when India decided to announce the lockdown after the outbreak of Covid, step up production of vaccines, roll out an inoculation programme and help countries in need of vaccines.
“With Captain Modi, there is a lot of net practice. The net practice starts at 6 o’clock in the morning and goes on till fairly late,” Jaishankar said during an interactive session at the Raisina Dialogue with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former England cricketer Kevin Pieterson.
The external affairs minister said Captain Modi also gave a certain latitude to his colleagues and trusted them to deal with a particular situation. “If you have a particular bowler you have trust in or you have seen perform, you would give them the latitude, you throw the ball to them at the right moment. You trust them to deal with that particular situation,” he said.
“In that sense, Captain Modi does give his bowlers a certain amount of freedom. He expects you to take that wicket, if he gives you the chance to do it,” Jaishankar said.
S Jaishankar was also part of a discussion along with Quad representatives US secretary of state Antony Blinken, Japanese foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Australia’s Penny Wong.
During the discussion, Jaishankar said that Quad is not a security grouping targeting any country.
“No, I don’t think – look, we are not apologetic,” said Jaishankar. The external affairs minister was asked to respond to the common refrain from the Quad countries that “this is not against anyone, we are not a security grouping, we are not a military grouping”.
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“So we do stand for something. What I would not like to be defined as is standing against something or somebody, because that diminishes me. That makes it out as though some other people are the centre of the world and I’m only there to be for them or against them,” he said, while adding light-heartedly that “I think I am the centre of the world.”
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China has been suspicious about the Quad and feels that the grouping is aimed at containing it.
Jaishankar said the Quad is offering more choices.
“We do collectively offer something different,” he said.
‘Three big issues …’
Jaishankar also highlighted three big issues that the Quad and the world need to address: “resilient supply chain, digital challenge and connectivity.”
“Three big issues that Quad and the world needs to address and I think Quad can address and can make a difference. First, more reliable and resilient supply chain, second digital challenge of trust and transparency and third connectivity. I expect these to be a greater part of our agenda,” said Jaishankar.
On tough decisions during pandemic
Jaishankar also recalled watching the Prime Minister take tough decisions when the Covid pandemic broke out three years back.
“All of us, if we look back for the past three years, the decision to lockdown was a very very tough decision. But, it had to be taken at that point of time. If we now look back, what would have happened if we had not taken that decision,” Jaishankar said.
Jaishankar said another tough call was to send vaccines to nearly 100 countries when there was a lot of questioning within the country.
“It was a tough call. Whether it is sports or any competitive situation it is the willingness to take the difficult call, stand by those calls, give the people the confidence that you will stand by them when they take the risks. This is all about competition and leadership,” the minister said.
(With inputs from agencies)