A Room With a Worldview
The fourth Ramnath Goenka Memorial Lecture, delivered by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, summed up last 70 years of India’s foreign policy choices and how India must respond in today’s world. Elaborating on the subject, ‘Beyond the Delhi Dogma: Indian Foreign Policy in a Changing World’, Jaishankar challenged past choices — from dealing with China on boundary issues and handling Pakistan to managing ties with the US while also critiquing India’s decision to go to the UN on Jammu & Kashmir. Five months into his new role, the scholar-diplomat-turned-minister spelt out Narendra Modi government’s approach to foreign policy in his first major speech in New Delhi on November 14.
“Napoleon once said that history is a version of past events that people have decided to agree upon. The world that awaits us not only calls for fresh thinking, but eventually, a new consensus at home as well. Putting dogmas behind us is a starting point for that journey,” he said.
Later, in a conversation with C Raja Mohan, Contributing Editor, The Indian Express, and Director, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, Jaishankar, discussed India’s policies, strengths and challenges in today’s complex, rapidly-changing world. “I mean I would rarely fault Indians for taking risks, I would mostly fault them for timidity you know. A Sehwag is a sort of exception, he is not the rule,” he said.
At the event, the welcome remarks was given by Raj Kamal Jha, Chief Editor, The Indian Express, who said that Jaishankar blended hard-nosed diplomacy with a soft touch.
Delivering his vote of thanks, Anant Goenka, Executive Director, Express Group, said that Jaishankar’s lecture showcased his “incredible knowledge and expertise”.
It was standing room only at the ballroom of the Grand Hotel, Vasant Kunj, with Minister of State (External Affairs) V Muraleedharan, RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale, former Foreign Secretary and PM’s special envoy Shyam Saran, and former Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal in attendance. Among the guests were ambassadors and diplomats from more than 30 countries, bureaucrats and foreign policy experts.