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India’s Pragmatic Approach: Non-Western, Not Anti-Western

India’s Pragmatic Approach: Non-Western, Not Anti-Western

In a recent address titled ‘India’s Role in New Pacific Order’ delivered in the United States, India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, articulated a nuanced perspective on India’s position in the evolving global landscape. His message was clear and deliberate: “India is non-western, not anti-western.” This statement underscores India’s diplomatic stance in today’s complex world, which is predominantly shaped by Western ideals and structures. Jaishankar’s insightful remarks highlighted the evolving dynamics and the need for a balanced approach in international relations.

The contemporary global arena is indeed a Western construct, with institutions, norms, and values predominantly influenced by Western powers. However, as Jaishankar astutely pointed out, there have been significant transformations over the past eight decades, necessitating a reassessment of India’s role and identity on the world stage. The External Affairs Minister emphasized that the G20 list serves as a window into these transformations, shedding light on the diversification of global power dynamics.

India’s Position in a Changing World

India’s role in the international community has evolved dramatically since its independence in 1947. From being a newly liberated nation grappling with colonial legacies, it has emerged as one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies. Jaishankar acknowledged that these changes are not limited to India but are part of a broader global trend where non-Western powers are rising to prominence. India’s economic prowess and its increasing diplomatic influence reflect this transformation.

India non-western, not anti-western: S Jaishankar | India News - Times of  India

Non-Western, Not Anti-Western

Jaishankar’s assertion that India is “non-western, not anti-western” is a powerful declaration of India’s foreign policy philosophy. It underscores India’s commitment to maintaining friendly and constructive relations with Western nations while forging partnerships with countries across the globe, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. India’s approach is pragmatic and seeks to engage with Western nations on shared objectives while safeguarding its sovereignty and interests.

India’s Engagement in the Asia-Pacific

The Asia-Pacific region has become a focal point of global politics and economics, and India is keenly aware of its significance. The External Affairs Minister highlighted India’s active participation in forums like the Quad (comprising the United States, Japan, Australia, and India), which aims to promote regional stability and prosperity. This engagement reflects India’s commitment to upholding a rules-based international order, especially in the face of emerging challenges.

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The G20: A Window to Changing Global Dynamics

Jaishankar’s reference to the G20 as an indicator of changing global dynamics is worth exploring. The Group of Twenty, or G20, comprises the world’s major economies, both Western and non-Western. It serves as a platform for discussions on global economic issues and plays a significant role in shaping international policies. India’s inclusion in the G20 reflects its growing economic clout and the acknowledgment of its role in shaping the world economy.

India’s Multilateral Diplomacy

India’s engagement in multilateral diplomacy has been pivotal to its foreign policy. The country actively participates in international organizations such as the United Nations, where it seeks reforms to make the institution more representative and inclusive. India’s non-aligned stance during the Cold War era has evolved into a more diversified approach, allowing it to collaborate with a wide range of nations across the world.

Balancing Act: India’s Approach to Global Powers

One of the key takeaways from Jaishankar’s address is India’s delicate balancing act between the West and other global powers. India recognizes the importance of Western nations in the existing world order, and it seeks to cooperate with them on a variety of fronts, including trade, security, and technology. Simultaneously, India actively cultivates relationships with non-Western powers, particularly those in the Asia-Pacific region, to enhance its strategic influence.

India’s Soft Power Diplomacy

In addition to its economic and military strengths, India has a rich cultural heritage that serves as a potent tool in its diplomatic arsenal. Bollywood, yoga, Ayurveda, and cuisine are just a few examples of India’s soft power, which has a global appeal. Jaishankar’s speech indirectly underscores the significance of this cultural diplomacy in India’s international relations.

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Challenges and Opportunities

While India’s non-western stance fosters a balanced and pragmatic approach to international relations, it also presents challenges. Striking a harmonious balance between engagement with the West and other global powers demands intricate diplomacy. Managing divergent interests and navigating complex geopolitical dynamics can be a formidable task, requiring a skillful and astute foreign policy strategy.

India’s foreign policy outlook, as enunciated by S. Jaishankar, also extends to the realm of trade and economic cooperation. India’s economic growth story has propelled it onto the global stage as an attractive market for foreign investment and a valuable trading partner. While engaging with Western economies, India has also sought to bolster its economic ties with countries in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. The burgeoning trade relationships with countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asian nations underline India’s commitment to fostering economic partnerships beyond the Western sphere.

Moreover, India’s non-Western stance dovetails with its aspirations for a more multipolar world. As the global balance of power shifts, India sees itself as a key player in shaping this new order. Its diplomatic engagements, such as the ‘Neighborhood First’ policy and ‘Act East’ policy, demonstrate India’s intent to strengthen its influence in its immediate vicinity and across the Indo-Pacific region. India’s investments in infrastructure development, connectivity projects, and cultural exchanges in these regions underscore its commitment to a harmonious and cooperative world order.

While emphasizing its non-Western identity, India has consistently championed issues of global significance. From climate change mitigation to counterterrorism efforts, India actively participates in addressing transnational challenges. This multifaceted approach showcases India’s willingness to collaborate on global issues irrespective of geographical divides, reinforcing its position as a responsible and forward-thinking global actor.

In conclusion, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s assertion that “India is non-western, not anti-western” encapsulates India’s evolving role in the contemporary world. It reflects India’s commitment to engaging with Western powers while actively participating in shaping the new Pacific order and the global landscape. India’s diplomatic approach, as articulated by Jaishankar, emphasizes the need for a pragmatic and balanced stance in an increasingly complex international arena, where partnerships with both Western and non-Western nations are crucial for global stability and progress.

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