If not for the “tragedy of the partition”, India could have been the largest country in the world, said Union Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar in Vadodara Saturday. He also emphasised that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India had been able to “make the world understand” the real meaning of “terrorism”.
“The partition has created a problem for what was once Indian. The best way of realising the dream of Sardar Patel is for India to be confident and successful and come to terms with this India… We have to stop policies that have been harmful for the country. There is one leader, who has the thought process of Sardar Patel and is realising the vision of Sardar Patel, and who has the same confidence as Sardar Patel — you know who it is,” Jaishankar, who was interacting with students of MS University at Sayaji Nagar Gruh in Vadodara, said.
He said India has used its “foreign diplomacy” ties with countries to source “cheaper” oils since the Russia-Ukraine war. “In the past few months, due to the Ukraine conflict, the prices of crude oil have doubled from Rs 50-60 per barrel to Rs 120 per barrel. There was a lot of pressure on us to buy from one country or not. But it was the personal view of the PM and the government that we should do what was best for our country,” he said.
The government had to step up its efforts to get sunflower oil as well. “About 40 per cent of our country uses sunflower oil that comes from Ukraine. So, we had to also find another source for cooking oil and because the demand for oil had gone up, Indonesia had also imposed a ban on export. We went all across the world. Today, we are bringing oil from Argentina and Brazil. When PM met the President of Argentina, he told him that we can be long-term partners and so you must give us a good deal.”
The Union Minister said the foreign policies of the Modi-led Union government had helped “secure India” in a better way. “Look at the northeast, where terrorism has reduced to such an extent. It is because we were able to do a land boundary agreement with Bangladesh. The separatist militants of the northeast were not able to get escape routes. Because we were able to do this agreement, we have been able to secure our state. We were able to make the world understand that terrorism is not politics or foreign diplomacy (of a country). It is terrorism,” Jaishankar said.
Crediting Modi for combatting terrorism, he said, “It was after Mumbai (2008 attacks) that it came to be believed that it is unacceptable. Very few countries respond to terrorism like the way India does because we have suffered for so many years.”
On the evacuation of 20,000 students from Ukraine, Jaishankar said, “The stranded students returned in 90 flights. It is not an easy task. The PM was monitoring personally, despite being in an election campaign. He (Modi) could call Russia and ask them to stop firing so that our citizens could come out safely from Kharkiv.”
On vaccine research in India, Jaishankar explained how Modi spoke to the US President urging not to stop the supply chain to India and other countries. “We are all ‘Made in India’ vaccinated, while the PM was ‘invented in India’ vaccinated. We went to the entire world and checked what India needed and from where we could source the cheapest material,” he said.
Jaishankar also added that close to 80 lakh Indians living in the Gulf during the Covid-19 pandemic were “well-cared for and not many were laid off” because of the “respect for Modiji” as the Prime Minister had “personally called up the rulers” to seek assurance about Indians.