Hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign policy, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said eight years of his government has brought terrorism at the centre of the global debate and made the country strong enough to face "hard security challenges".
Addressing the gathering where Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu released the book ‘Modi@20 Dreams Meet Delivery’, Jaishankar said Modi has practised a diplomacy which is more "development-focused" and “people-centric”.
Jaishankar said the Modi government has brought terrorism "fair-square" at the centre of the global debate, with concentration on development of border infrastructure, as the PM knows it is essential to meet our security challenges.
"So it could be Uri and Balakot, it could be Doklam and Ladakh but you can see today this is not a country that shies away from its hard security challenges," he said.
Jaishankar also lauded Modi's efforts to bring the capital and technology to the country from the world.
"The interest he takes in trade… he actually addressed every one of our embassies in pursuit of a goal of reaching $ 400 billion exports.
“The efforts which he makes to woo funds so that their investment in India generates employment," the external affairs minister said.
"When he goes abroad, he looks at railways, he looks at EVs, he looks at environment, green projects, with a view to what he can take back to India. That quest for development is at the heart of whatever he does," Jaishankar said.
Stressing on his people-centric policies, Jaishankar said the prime minister ensured the ease of getting a passport by cutting through layers of bureaucracy.
He also drew attention to the Vande Bharat mission (operation to bring back Indians stranded during Covid), Operation Ganga (evacuation of Indians from Ukraine), and Operation Devi Shakti (evacuation from Afghanitan) as examples of Modi’s “people-centric” approach.
"Today an Indian going abroad knows we have their back, that in whatever situation of distress we are there for them. That is a huge change in the country's profile, in the confidence citizens have in us and the view the world has about us," Jaishankar said.
Jaishankar also recalled his first interaction with Modi 11 years ago when he was the country's ambassador in China and Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat visiting that country.
"We were used to in the embassy to chief ministers but this one was very different. It was very different because he arrived after midnight. He wanted his first briefing at 7 o'clock in the morning. He ran a 12-hour day with a half-an-hour lunch break, and he proceeded to cover three cities in four days.
“Of course today this is standard operating procedure for all of us but at that time it was discovery,” he said.
"He did something very unusual as chief minister, he asked me to brief him on our security posture vis a vis China. At that time we were having problems, some of you may recall stapled visas, border map projections, and terrorism,” Jaishankar said recalling his first meet with Modi.
“And the point he made was 'I may be chief minister of Gujarat but I am a citizen of India, when I go outside, I will not be one millimetre different from what is our national stance’," he said quoting Modi, the then Gujarat CM.
Finally on the cultural side, he is quintessentially “an India persona”, Jaishankar said.
He said chief ministers typically come to promote their states, but Modi was worried about the economic imbalance between India and China.
"Eleven years ago, some Indian citizens, they happened to be jewellers from Gujarat, who were in prison in China at that time and he was very concerned about getting them released.
"I remember those three aspects because in a way they were my first outline of what his thinking was about foreign policy," Jaishankar said.
"Today when I look at the difference that he has made… He has really led our foreign policy which is much more security-focused. He has practised a diplomacy which is more development-focused, also he has created people-centric policies in foreign policy," Jaishankar said.
'Modi@20' is an anthology of chapters authored by eminent intellectuals and domain experts edited and compiled by BlueKraft Digital Foundation, according to Rupa Publications.
It attempts a definitive and expansive exploration into the fundamental transformation of Gujarat and India over the last 20 years due to Modi’s “unique model of governance”, said the publisher.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval, psephologist Pradeep Gupta, noted badminton player P V Sindhu, banker Uday Kotak, economist and former Niti Aayog head Arvind Panagariya, leading cardiologist Devi Shetty, and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani are among the contributors to the book.