India matters more in the current polarised world. It is perceived widely as the voice of the global South, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said, asserting that New Delhi always speaks for many developing nations and highlights their pressing problems at international forums.
Mr. Jaishankar wrapped up the New York leg of his visit to the US as he addressed the high-level UN General Assembly session on Saturday, concluding a hectic week of whirlwind diplomatic engagements during which he met over 100 of his counterparts from around the world and held several bilateral and multilateral meetings.
“There’s no question this UNGA reflects the state of the world, which is particularly polarised now. What the state of the world reveals in a way is that India matters more.
We are a bridge, a voice, a viewpoint, a channel,” Mr. Jaishankar told a group of Indian reporters here as he highlighted some of the big takeaways of his week-long visit to the UN and the city.
He will head to Washington, DC, on Sunday for the second leg of his US visit.
Mr. Jaishankar said that when normal diplomacy is not working that well, India has so many relationships, such as an ability to communicate and find touch points with different countries and regions.
According to Mr. Jaishankar, India is now “very widely perceived” as the voice of the global South. He also mentioned that there is currently a major economic crisis in the world, where the price of food and fuel, concerns about fertilizers, and the debt situation have caused profound anxieties for many countries.
“It is pretty frustrating that these concerns are not being taken seriously. They do not have a voice. He said they are not moving up the food chain in the international forums, adding that India is the only country standing up and expressing these thoughts on behalf of many developing countries.
“I’m coming to the end of this week with the impression that India matters more in this divisive world, and much of that is also due to the Prime Minister’s leadership, his image, what he has done on the global stage,” he said.
People have discussed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s participation in recent regional events and the UN climate conference COP26 that was held in Glasgow last year, according to Mr. Jaishankar. He emphasized that the leadership and the environment contributed to the perception that India matters more.
On the sidelines of the high-level session, Mr. Jaishankar had bilateral and multilateral meetings with his international colleagues. He attended talks with the L69 group, the Quad, the BRICS, the IBSA, the CELAC, the CARICOM, and the NAM nations. He also participated in a trilateral involving the UAE, France, Australia, and Indonesia.
Another lesson learned was the significance of many of India’s endeavors, including the Vaccine Maitri, development projects, and programs in Ukraine.
The special India@75 event earlier in the day, where UN Ambassadors, Ministers, agency heads, and other dignitaries highlighted India’s partnership with the UN, its South-South Cooperation, its development journey, and achievements in the 75th year of its independence, highlighted the perception among other countries that India was there for the world in times of distress and difficulty.
Mr. Jaishankar noted that this year has been challenging in terms of climate events and emergencies from South Asia to Europe, and he stated that India’s leadership on climate issues had been positively mentioned, with nations and partners expressing interest in working with India because it has not just been about speeches but also delivery on the ground.
To emphasize that “delivery is Prime Minister Modi’s forte not just at home but also in terms of his image abroad,” he claimed that the International Solar Alliance has over 100 members, and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure is gaining momentum. There is interest in the One Sun, One World, One Grid concept.
The External Affairs Minister stated that one lesson from the week is the conviction that India is currently a significant player, contributor, and shaper in the climate talks.
The subject came up for discussion with numerous leaders, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, after India took up the G20 leadership in December.
They were all told, according to Mr. Jaishankar, “quite plainly,” that “we would endeavor to guarantee that the G20 remained coherent and focused.” He added it was communicated that “we would like it to stay to that” since the G20 has historically had a plan that is primarily focused on finance, economics, development, and social issues. Many other G20 foreign ministers brought up this issue, and, according to him, “there was an acknowledgment of it as well.”