India and China must find an “equilibrium” and “understanding” on key issues affecting each other, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Wednesday, asserting that there is no choice but to adopt such an approach.
On bilateral ties, he said neither country can get the relationship “wrong”.
In his address at the Raisina Dialogue, Jaishankar said both countries will have to get along with each other but the challenge is how it will work. He said, “I think it is very important today. To my mind, it is absolutely necessary that the two countries find an equilibrium and find accommodation and understanding on key issues which affect each other. For me it is a must, not a choice.”
“The challenge is, what are the terms and what is the basis and how it will work…. I would say it is a work in progress and it will be continue to be a work in progress,” he said.
Answering a question on how his ministry is dealing with criticism over Kashmir, NRC and the new citizenship law, Jaishankar said, “One aspect of re-balancing where India is concerned is, are we going to define ourselves, or are we going to let other people define us? I would like to believe that it is the first. That is my political outlook, and that of my party.”
He said it is important to reflect on how India responded to common challenges faced by many countries globally. “Even something like naturalisation…what is the pathway other nations have taken with regard to naturalisation of people? I think it is worthwhile looking at it,” he said.
“Don’t get fixated on the dots and ignore the line. These are important issues. At the end of the day, they reflect the mindset towards governance,” he said. “A lot of what has happened in the last six months are sort of in the political sphere, but the same mindset was also evident when it came to socioeconomic issues.”
Asked about India’s poor track record of implementation of development projects abroad, as well as challenges in foreign policy domain, he said the country is a “prisoner of its past image” and must get over it.
Jaishankar indicated that the current government inherited a lot of problems and the effort now has been to not pass on them to future governments. “The bottomline is: are we going to just inherit problems, multiply them, pass it on, or are we going to deal with some of them and probably leave the people who come after us better off,” he said.