India has tried to reduce the number of stateless people in the country through the CAA and that should be appreciated, foreign minister S Jaishankar said in a session moderated by Pranab Dhal Samanta. Edited excerpts:
The PM told us that from the days of being equidistant from countries, today we want to be friends with everybody… But we see today that a lot of the liberal world is angry with us. Also, we have just seen remarks from Iran. Are we losing friends or just not able to explain the rationale of certain recent decisions?
Maybe we are getting to know who our friends really are. But look, I think there are two different issues here. One, and I think the Prime Minister’s remarks kind of touched on that, is it’s kind of a geopolitical assessment that there was a time when India was very defensive. Our capabilities were less. Our threats were more. The risks were higher. So we adopted a policy of, in a sense, managing the world, but kind of staying away. We cannot do that anymore.
We are the fifth-largest economy in the world. We will one day be the thirdlargest economy in the world. I mean the nature of the world has changed. So, as we get more capable, as our confidence level grows, our interest in the world grows and as their interest in us grows. We have to do the management but in a very different way. We have to engage everybody… The second issue, to my mind, is that a changing world, of a changing India. The Prime Minister touched on that also, which is we cannot let governance challenges go unaddressed. It is not the mindset of this government to just let important issues (slide) without decisively addressing them. Now, when you address that, you obviously disturb the status quo.
People who have sort of proclaimed themselves to be the judges of political correctness and arbiters of public policies obviously will get ruffled… You will also have people who understand the changes in India, who agree with it. You will have people who may not agree with it. But I would not mix apples and oranges. I think these are two different processes at work. But I will come out ahead at the end of it.
Do you think India has not been able to explain its position on CAA or has it been misunderstood?
No. Look you are from the media.. you write, talk and listen to yourself. There are sections of the world outside the media. I engage governments. I was in Brussels. I had 27 foreign ministers in a room to whom I was talking.
So the point we make on CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) is it cannot be anybody’s case that a government or parliament does not have the right to set the terms of naturalisation or citizenship.