By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 27, May 2021, 18:05 pm IST | UPDATED: 05, Jun 2021, 17:35 pm IST
New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has alleged that there is "a political effort" to portray the incumbent Indian government in a certain way, adding that there is a difference between the political imagery that has been "concocted" from the actual governance record in public.
Jaishankar on Wednesday made these remarks during a conversation with former US National Security Advisor General HR McMaster in Battlegrounds' session on 'India: Opportunities And Challenges For A Strategic Partnership.
Speaking at the session, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that India is going through "a very stressful time" right now because of the pandemic.
"We are actually giving free food, last year for multiple months and right now again because of the second wave we have resumed, to as much as 800 million people. We put money into the bank accounts of 400 million people," he said.
"This is what this government did. Now, if you are feeding more than two and a half times the population of the United States and you are funding more than the population of the US and you're doing this pretty much anonymously and impersonally in the sense beyond the name and the detail, the bank account of the person. We're not asking anything more. There is no criteria of discrimination," the minister added as quoted by news agency PTI.
S Jaishankar followed that by stating that he thinks when it comes down to real governance judgments, "you find that there is a difference between the political imagery that has been concocted and actually the governance record out there".
So I think you should take it for what it is, which is really politics at play. You can agree with it, you can disagree with it but I would certainly see that very much as part of a political effort to depict our current government in a certain way, and obviously I have a very profound difference with that," he added.
S Jaishankar was also directly asked about alleged "Hindutva" policies that could undermine secularism in Indian democracy, how he sees internal Indian politics evolving during the trauma of the pandemic, and are India's friends "right to be concerned about some of these recent trends".
The External Affairs Minister said that he would respond to the concerns with a straight political answer and a slightly more nuanced societal answer.
"The political answer is that in the past there was a great reliance on what's called vote bank politics, which is appealing to vote banks on the basis of their identity, or their beliefs or whatever it is. And the fact that we have departed from it has obviously been a difference," he said.
He emphasised that India is a country of many faiths and faiths everywhere in the world are very closely tied to culture and identity.
"Now in our society, we define secularism as equal respect for all faiths. Secularism doesn't mean that you are in denial of your own faith or anybody else's faith for that matter," he said.
"I think what you are seeing in India, in many ways, is the deepening of democracy if you would call it, a much broader representation in politics and in leadership positions and in civil society of people. Of people who are much more confident about their culture, about their language, about their beliefs," he opined.
"I would be very open about it. I mean these are people who perhaps are less, shall I say, less from the English-speaking world, less connected to other global centers. So there is a difference. And I think sometimes that difference is judged politically harshly and it is often used to create a certain narrative," he said.
(With Agency Inputs)
S Jaishankar arrived in New York on Sunday and met UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres; he then travelled to Washington where he is expected to meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. It is the first such visit to the US by a union minister of India after President Joe Biden became president in January.
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