Ex-Foreign Secretary on Canada & Trudeau, India Rising, China & BRICS | Dr. Kanwal Sibal | ACP 40 | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Ex-Foreign Secretary on Canada & Trudeau, India Rising, China & BRICS | Dr. Kanwal Sibal | ACP 40".

1970-01-02T22:07:01.000Z

Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.


Introduction

Intro (00:00)

Ah, Panu, he just again threatened Modi personally, threatened Indian diplomats. He's a US citizen. Yes. The G20 has a very strong, very strong imprint of Indian ideas. And Russia has a lot of military strength while it doesn't have financial and economic strength. Yes. China has both. The great thing about doing diplomacy with China is that you really don't know what they think. Okay. Welcome back. It's great to see you all again. The following is a conversation with Padmasriya Vodi, Dr. Kamal Sibal, who returns for his second podcast on the Abhijit Chawada podcast. Dr. Kamal Sibal is India's former Foreign Secretary and he is the newly appointed Chancellor of India, one of India's most important universities, the Jawaharlal Nehru University. And he is one of the most authoritative voices globally when it comes to India's perspective on foreign affairs and geopolitics. And in this conversation, we discuss a large number of issues, including the Canada Affair, the Ukraine War and the other important topics and issues that are relevant to the world today. So enjoy the conversation and don't forget to like and subscribe. Dr. Kamal Sibal, thank you so much for doing this second podcast with me. My pleasure. And welcome to the Abhijit Chawada show. Thank you so much. My pleasure. So a lot is happening in the world right now. We met a few months ago and a lot has happened since India's G20 success. We have the Canada Affair, the Trudeau Affair and the expansion of BRICS, the India Middle East, Europe Trade Corridor. So much is happening. So I would like to get your sense about these matters. Let's begin with the Affair Trudeau, Mr. Trudeau and what he has been up to the past few days, the accused India of assassinating, murdering a Canadian citizen apparently on Canadian soil.


Global Politics And Policy Discussions

Justin Trudeau & The Canada Affair (01:44)

What do you make of this entire matter, sir? I'm very puzzled. But in a sense, I'm also not puzzled given Trudeau's personality, his juvenile behavior on many matters. The fact is that this is a long standing issue between us and Canada. I mean, the fact that they give shelter to the so-called Khalistani elements, actually, they're Canadian citizens. So it's actually Canadian terrorism directed at India. The fact we call it Khalistan is actually seems to suggest something between India and the Sikh community. No, it's between Canada and Canadian terrorists. Whether they are Sikh, whether they are not Sikhs, it's a different matter. They're Canadian terrorists and Canada is sheltering Canadian terrorists who undertake actions of violence in India. That is a reality that we've been facing for many years now. Going back to the father of just in Trudeau, Pierre Trudeau, as you know, we had wanted to extradite Parmar and he refused. Yes. And Parmar was involved in the downing of the Air India plane, which killed 329, mostly Canadian nationals and some 114, I think, Indian nationals. Their investigation led to nine. Yes. After 20 years or something, I forget the exact time span. They charged one chap called Rajat. Parmar was never charged. Yes. Later on, the Canadian security agencies have acknowledged that he was the mastermind. But they charged Rajat because he was involved in the Narita airport incident where they had planted a bomb, which was actually meant to down another India plane, but it exploded prematurely. Right. So they charged him, but now they released him, I think. So after that, we have given them dossier after dossier about these elements in Canada who were trying to revive Khaleef Sani violence and terrorism in Punjab. And they have really never responded. Yes. There are 18 or 20 extradition request pending. There's been no movement on that. You know, this fellow, Nijar, had a red corner notice by Interpol against him. 2016. Yeah. And he saw asylum in Canada. Twice his application was citizenship was refused. Yes. And then suddenly he was given citizenship. Was he even a citizen? Yes. Eventually, that's what their home minister says. That's what they claim. That he was given citizenship. Yes. There has been some confusion there because they've mentioned one. I think the minister said he was given in 2009 and then he said, no, it was in 2015. Something like that. Yes. This discrepancy in the dates, which means that their homework is very shoddy in these matters. Yes. Anyway, the fact that the Canadians have been totally unresponsive to our pressing demands that they curb this activity. And more recently, as you know, there have been absolutely shocking incidents of sick or Canadian terrorists targeting our missions. Yes. And putting up posters asking for the killing of our diplomats. Yes. Quite apart from desecrating, vandalizing some of the Hindu temples. Yes. And then they had this float in which they glorified the killing of Mrs. Gandhi. Indeed. But the Canadians did nothing. Then they had these referendums. We protested against that. They did nothing. In other words, they have never cooperated with us. Suddenly this incident happens and Trudeau says, you must cooperate with me. Yes. So how can it be one way cooperation? And cooperation on what? He says that there are credible allegations. Yes. That's what I said. With potential links to Indian agents. Now is that sufficient ground for him formally to make a statement in the House of Commons in Canada implicating India on the basis of allegations and potential links? And look at the damage he wanted to do. And I can't at the moment assess how deep this damage would be. But the fact is, by charging us with the targeted assassination of foreign citizens on foreign soil, he's bracketing us with Iran and North Korea. Yes, he is. Yes. And as it is, the Western media is doing the best it can to malign India, to tarnish India, to blacken our image, talking about fascism and democratic backsliding. Backsliding. And it's not only the media, it's all these NGOs and human rights organizations. And thanks for them. This is one more reason why in their eyes India has lost its democratic path and is now behaving as fast as do, killing people abroad like the Iranians and the North Koreans and now as they say the Russians do. So he's not thought of the implications of what he said on the floor of the parliament. And then he says that our National Security Advisor visited India and had talks with us and presented whatever information they had. And then somebody else they mentioned also from the foreign office came and talked to us. We are saying formally, our spokesman earlier said, the MEA spokesman and now the foreign minister said in United Nations and in New York that they have never given us any specific information before, during or after. And the foreign minister has said that in answer to a question in the CFR, Council for Foreign Relations in New York. In fact the question was asked by the former American ambassador to India, Kanjastra. And Jayasankar said that if they give us anything specific, anything relevant, we will look at it. And this doesn't apply only to Canada. In any situation if somebody gives us information, we will look at it. And reiterated quite rightly that it's not government of India's policy to go in for assassination or… Now the point I have been making is that right from the middle ladies, we have suffered from terrorism from across the border. We had this 26-11 attack which was absolutely horrific. And then spate of attacks in our cities, against our institutions and of course in Kashmir there is a long list of terrorist mayhem. Have we targeted any wretched Pakistani? I mean they are next door, they could be taken out. Yes. We have not done that because we know the repercussions of this. Quite a part of the fact that it is not part of how we do our foreign policy. And the gains that you might get in killing one can be offset by the fact that another person will come up. So it's not as if you kill one leader and then the whole edifice of terrorism collapses. Anyway whatever the… We never done that. So why should we do something which is 10,000 miles away? And run the risk of targeting someone who may be a nuisance but frankly relatively speaking is a minor figure. Indeed, yes. So why take the risk in terms of input, output and the gains you are going to get from this, it doesn't just make sense. It doesn't make sense. The other thing I want to mention to you Abhijeet is this, that Canada and this applies to the USA also. They have large missions here, especially Canada. They are very much in touch with the people in Punjab because mostly people from India who are going to Canada are from Punjab. They have a consulate in Chandigarh. All of them if they are worth their salt at all as diplomats know the history of terrorism in Punjab right from the time of Binaraywala, the Blue Star operation, the general Kalistani movement and then how it was eliminated and then efforts to revive this by the Pakistanis. In fact, they also know that Pakistan is actually sheltering known Kalistani terrorists on their soil. So the Pakistani connection and the ISI connection is well known. Secondly, these people know that while the situation in Punjab is stable, given the history of what has happened in Punjab, our enemies would try and revive this movement and destabilize this border state because there is still an element even in Punjab which has not forgotten the Golden Temple episode and they nurture, they may be very few but they do nurture these sentiments of separatism and stuff like that and would be partners in reviving a degree of violence in Punjab. So they know all that. Knowing all that, why is it that they refuse to take any action and dismiss their concerns about revival of this Kalistani movement or efforts to revive the Kalistani movement in Punjab? So there has to be a much deeper reason for this. So it's not as if it's freedom of speech and in our democratic setup, unless speech leads to violence, our laws don't permit us to act. These are just cover, they are just a cover and they think they can fool us with these kind of ridiculous explanations which freedom of speech allows people of a country to actually threaten to kill foreign diplomats stationed on their soil. Unacceptable. It's unacceptable. And then look at the pressure it puts on our people. Okay, they may be, Canadians may provide security but anything can happen and so our diplomats have to work under a lot of stress. So in this background for Mr. Trudeau to go and say on the floor of the parliament that he's some credible allegations and this and that, I think not only the jumping the gun is irresponsible, it is immature, it is juvenile politics. And he's created in a sense a geopolitical issue. He has. In the sense that India is drawing very close to the West, especially the United States. India is being moved despite the fact that in these countries they are very powerful lobbies which keep, which keep needling, not needling India, which actually keep on damaging India to the extent they can by making its system questionable and making its governance disreputable. This is the constant refrain of Washington Post, New York Times, economists, independent, Lamont or whatever else. Dutch or ballet, the German press. So, so there is a, so all these and human rights organizations we talked about and the so-called democracy promotion organization and religious protection of whatever that's United States International Commission for Religious Freedom, which keeps attacking us. For these people, this is exactly the kind of thing they want to continue their narrative to demonize to some extent India and its leadership. So now with these kind of allegations, it is, it becomes difficult for the leadership of the G7, especially the Anglosphere, not so much the G7, the Anglosphere to totally disregard this and continue to do business as usual with India because there are domestic pressures that build up. And I'm sorry to say that the United States in this affair has not to my mind acted as a responsibility as they should have. First Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor calls us to cooperate with Canada and says that, no, that's Blinken who said that we are not only consulting but coordinating with Canada. Both of them are asked for accountability. And Jake Sullivan, to my mind, he was a very unfortunate phrase that no country can claim special exemption. Exemption, let me seek that exemption. So which means that we are subject to American law. And so we have to take their permission and exemption. This unnecessary. Now, when it comes to asking us to cooperate with Canada, fine. I can understand from the American point of view, Canada is a very close ally of the United States. They fought all the wars together from the Second World War onwards. The Canadians have given, sent contingents to Afghanistan, Iraq, everywhere. And they are very tough on Ukraine. So and they are their ally. They are part of NATO. Part of G7. So I can understand that they need to keep Canada happy to some to a great degree. And on an issue like this, where the Prime Minister has gone out on a limb to sort of rebuff them, would do damage to the bilateral relationship. I can understand that. But they also have a relationship with India. They're building it. So they should have therefore made a more balanced statement. They could have said that both countries need to cooperate with each other. Rather than saying India needs to cooperate with Canada. Why don't they say that Canada needs to cooperate with India? Because they know as well as we do that for 20 years or more or 30 years, they haven't cooperated with us. That's right. And so why put the blame on cooperation and cooperation for what? If there are only credible allegations, then how do we cooperate to make credible allegations, credible evidence? I mean, their allegations, they had to come to us with evidence and specific evidence. And then as our minister said, we will look at it. But they haven't done that. So cooperate on what? Is it that we have now to prove our innocence? Against any principle of law that unless you are proved guilty or innocent. Yes. So they are saying, no, no, we think you are guilty. Now please prove your innocence to us or prove your guilt to us. Prove your guilt perhaps. Yes. Yeah, absolutely ridiculous. Yes. Then there is this element of Five Eyes. In the. Now, earlier on, they were not saying this, but they were Canadians. And then the people said that we've got intelligence from a country about some human and SIGINT human intelligence, signal intelligence implicating our people, our diplomats or agents. This is very convenient because human or SIGINT is not is not evidence. It has to be actually translated into evidence because human tends to get to depends on sources you have to reply. You have to assess whether the resources sources are credible. You know, even our own system since I have direct experience or this about information that comes from intelligence sources is graded. It is graded. Yes. A or B or C. So you know how reliable it is. And then many of these conversations when they take place because we keep also tabs on what the Pakistanis do. They they were in such a manner that you to read the meaning. It's never clear. Yes. They use code words and this and that. So it all depends on the interpretation. Yes. So there is a lot of it's not so simple to translate intelligence into into evidence, which would be sustainable in a court of law. Indeed. Yes. The game behind this is to put India on the defensive. We got something on you. But we won't tell you what it is. Yes. And and then of course the embarrassment is that friendly countries don't spy on each other. So is it all right for the United States to to spy on our diplomats or our decision makers? And the spy on Angela Merkel. No, but it is not acceptable. It's not acceptable. If we did the reverse, there'll be a level of absolutely. Yes. So they're also it's difficult for them to openly admit that we have done this spying and we've got this information. And the great advantage in this in these tactics that they're following is that they're creating a suspicion without being held to account in terms of please give us the information. Yes. What do you have? Yes. In the in the intelligence setup, as you've seen the Americans when it comes to intelligence affairs, their spokesman always says we don't we don't comment on issues of intelligence. Yes. Right. So it's very convenient. You can say that we got intelligence and you are and then you can hide behind behind the proposition that when it comes to intelligence issues, we don't make a man and we don't want to divulge our resources as well as our capabilities. So it's very convenient. Very much. So that's a long and short of Mr. Trudeau, as I said somewhere yesterday that just in Trudeau should now be just out. It's time. Quickly process quickly as possible.


The US Hypocrisy On Terrorism (22:43)

Then there's the thing that the I mean, India has suffered horribly from terrorism from the 1970s, 1980s onwards. And we always let's say complain to the US about Pakistani terrorism. And Pakistan was being financed by the US for the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. And he was always said that this is a lower order issue. There's no such thing as terrorism in Kashmir or whatever. But when 9/11 happened, they went on the on the offensive and then it was a war against terrorism either with us or against us. So when it's convenient, they are against terrorists. But when it comes to certain flavors of terrorists like the Khalistani terrorists, they're okay with that because those terrorists don't target the West. So isn't this completely hypocritical and duplicitous? Yeah, that of course, our foreign minister in his speech at the UN without naming countries has spoken of double standards. And we've been talking about double standards for a long time. And many other countries are talking about double standards, too. Yes. They're quite evident. And this erodes the credibility of the West when they talk about human rights and terrorism and what have you, because when it comes to country, which are their allies, even when they are under governments, which are unspeakable, which are that human rights and which have hands in terrorism or fingers in terrorism, they don't say anything about that. Yes. But they'll target democracies like us. So that is a fact. Now, when it comes to Pakistan, you know, since again, I was involved in this, it has been very difficult to persuade the Americans to recognize the fact that the terrorist modules have been operating from Pakistan to saw mayhem in India or otherwise state sponsored terrorism from Pakistan for a long time. They didn't accept that. In fact, when I was in Washington in 1992 or 93, the 1992 report, I think, on the annual report on terrorism didn't mention the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiris or the hint of Brahmins from Kashmiri, Pandis from Kashmir. And there was a footnote in the report, footnote in the report, suggesting there is, I forget the exact words, that there is two views about this and some claim that it was Jagmone who had encouraged these people to flee. And I raised that up. We had raised this with the State Department that you're not even accepting this as an act of terrorism. It's only after, as you rightly said, 9/11 and the war on terror, they became more open to our complaints and our arguments. But they were willing to designate as terrorist organizations those who were involved in international terrorism. In other words, if Pakistanis commit terrorism against India, this is part of the fallout of the Kashmir issue which has gone along for so long. So it is a bilateral thing, it's not international terrorism. So when the L.E.T. got active in Afghanistan and fingerprints of the L.E.T. in some other terrorist incidents, that the Americans designated L.E.T. as a terrorist. And then, of course, as our relations improved, Jai Shema Ahmed came in and then this fellow in Jammu and Kashmir, the fellow who's on his NPOK. - Half a say? - No, no, no. The Kashmiri origin fellow. - Okay. - I'm forgetting his name. He was designated. And then there was big, big improvement in terms of their position on terrorism. They accepted the language of cross-border terrorism and everything else. So I must admit that today it's a very different situation. And they have been cooperating with us to get Omar Sheikh, the Jai Shema Ahmed chief, as designated as terrorist under the UN 1257 committee or whatever, which China has blocked. - Okay, yes. - But they have cooperated with us. So on terrorism, I think there is certainly a change in the U.S. position when it comes to Pakistan. But when it comes to this Canadian affair, I'm a bit puzzled as to why they haven't at least said, at least said that there is an issue. They need not have said it in the context of whatever they were saying to support Canada, but otherwise that we appreciate India's concern. We recognize India's concerns about terrorist activities by Sikh terrorists or Sikh extremists in the West. Why don't they say that? They don't say that. Even though these terrorists are operating in the U.S. itself and Guru Patman, Guru Patman Singh, Guru Patman Singh, whatever his name is, he just again threatened Modi personally, threatened Indian diplomats. He is a U.S. citizen. But have they said anything about it? - Nothing. - So what does this tell you? What does this tell you? - This is one other point I missed to say, which is this. When it comes to intelligence agencies, they cooperate with each other, which in our case, the MEA will not know. Even the decision makers will not necessarily know because these are established channels of communication where you share intelligence. - Okay. - I, it is speculation. I don't put it past given the record of the CIA and the NSA, that is the... - National Security Agency? - National Security Agency to have shared some information they were able to obtain directly with the Canadian Intelligence Agency. - Yes. - Well, I would find it very difficult to believe that this was passed through the ex-11 or Blinken and they said, "You phoned, hand it over to the Canadians." I think the CIA is involved in making obvious kinds. So it's entirely possible that this was done in this manner and the CIA keep briefing the press as we well know, including New York Times and Washington Post on the line that they should take. - Yes. - So in other words, this could well be a kind of intelligence level cooperation between Canada and the Americans because they may have a certain foreign policy of their own, which does not necessarily concord with what the State Department or the White House may wish to do with India. - Then there's the, I think it goes beyond Canada because first of all, coming back to Canada, that lady, Karima Baloch was killed in Canada in 2020, most likely by the ISI.


Anti-India Forces In The Anglosphere (30:39)

And they did not expel any Pakistani diplomas. They didn't say a word about this. I don't know what happened to the investigation. That's one thing. And then there are anti-India activists and terrorists and other terrorists of other flavors that are sheltered not only in Canada, but also in the UK and other places. For example, the killer of Sheikh Mujiboreh Imam, the killers, one of them I think is in the US and some of them are in the UK. They are living free lives there. - And in Canada. - In Canada, right. There have been attacks against Indian diplomatic properties in the UK as well, like blatant attacks. I think this goes beyond just Canada and the US. I think it goes, it extends across the Anglosphere, this particular attitude towards India, of filtering anti-India elements and forces. - Yeah, because this gives them an instrumental pressure on India. Because some may argue that now the Kashmir issue is relatively more stable than before. And mischief making there is more difficult. It's easier to do in Punjab, especially as they are large, large Sikh diaspora, especially in Canada. So the intelligence agencies involved who would want to keep certain options open can have this policy of keeping India on the back foot. - And I think, as you rightly say, that this is the language that all countries in the Anglosphere use. - Yes. - That, you know, it's freedom of speech. It is right to protest so we cannot stop these people. They can come and demonstrate before our missions as it happened in the UK. And they still do not accept that they should curb these demonstrations or not allow these referendums to be held because they say it's freedom of speech. Now, if you look at the language all of them use and the excuse all of them use, it is clear that there is some kind of coordination in terms of what these decision makers in the Anglosphere should say or do with regard to Indian complaints. It is quite clear that is one. The other is that, you know, right from 1857 onwards, the British have had a certain view of the Sikh community. - Okay. - And they played a big role in separating the Sikhs from Hindus. - Yes. - And the other ones who first laid the seeds of the SGPC in the sense that this control of the Gurvara and everything else because they felt that Sikhs as a martial race could be relied on and more relied on and would be more trustworthy if they were separated from the Hindus because the Hindus were fighting for independence and the freedom struggle. So they have soft corner. - Okay. - Historically. They're British especially which is why they are very reluctant to act against them. And as it happens in all such cases, the vast majority of the Sikhs actually may not want to have any truck with Kalistan or violence or extremism which is true also. And I'm sure there are vast majority of the Sikhs do not feel that Hindus are their enemies of any kind. - Yes. - So, but extremists can always weigh very heavily in any such situation and through intimidation force the larger members of the community to keep quiet and not challenge them. And therefore these elements do enormous disservice to the community as such. But these elements are the ones most vocal, most committed who are the ones who deal with governments and agencies and the police forces and this and that and get space for themselves to for their activities. - Right. - And I think these governments then begin to believe that these forces actually represent the sentiments of the community as a whole. And we've been arguing with them, don't fall into this trap. These are extremists. And behind that there is gun running, smuggling, drug smuggling, human trafficking, everything else, organized crime as our minister likely said. - Yes. - But there it is. So there's a mixture of motives, lack of empathy for India, positive sentiments historically towards the Sikhs as a community. The some leverage they want to have against the rising India, not comfortable with the idea that India as it rises and becomes stronger economically, militarily and otherwise and consolidates its internal unity might it become even more difficult to handle. And at some stage may walk out of the Western camp. - Yes. - And tower independent space for itself more and more. So not that they can arrest this process, but if they can slow it down and extract concessions from India in the interim till India is no longer in a position to be blackmailed. - Yes. - So maybe that is the longer term approach. - We've seen what's happened in China. - Yes. - That's right.


Inviting & Sheltering N*zis (37:50)

- What do you make of the fact that the Canadians invited a Nazi, a literal Nazi to the parliament and honored him and it has emerged that he that's not the first time he was honored by the Canadian government. It happened a decade plus ago as well. And it's also emerged that the Canadians have been harboring Nazis, 20,000 plus Nazis for several decades. And we also know that the Americans brought in lots of Nazi scientists, engineers, operation paperclip and all that. Isn't this hypocritical that on the one hand you call anyone you don't like a Nazi. On the other hand, you're sheltering and honoring literal actual Nazis who killed Ukrainians and Jews with their own hands. What does it tell us about the West? - Well, I think it exposes the dark underside of Canada that they accepted a lot of Nazi criminals and gave them shelter and citizenship. And unfortunately for Hongka, he was invited and taken nice and there was applause. And then Jewish organizations and others, they spotted who he was and photographs emerged about him in the Waffen-Gelicia division. And this has been a huge embarrassment. - Yes. - Huge embarrassment. Now, I don't know if it's true or not, but the reports say that actually, in fact, it must be true because the leader of the opposition has said that. See, Trudeau met him privately. - In private, yes. - In private too. - Yes. - So they talk about their intelligence agency, the information they have. How is it that their intelligence agencies miss this? - Yes. - After all, if you have a private meeting with the prime minister, your background is very closely looked into. - Yes. - And if you're going to honor someone in parliament, all the more reason that it will be looked into very closely. So it's been a huge embarrassment for Canada, but it also exposes their hypocrisy and the false image they create of themselves as a country of values and transparency and this and that. I just saw a clip where Christia Freeland, the deputy prime minister of Canada, has asked a pointed question as to how many ex-Nazi criminals were given citizenship in Canada. She didn't answer the question. - She did not. - She just evaded the question completely by saying how embarrassed everyone was about the fact that this man was honored, but that was not the question that was asked. What the figures are, one doesn't know. But it just goes to show the false image that countries like Canada create for themselves about human freedoms and transparency and democratic governance and stuff like that, when actually, when you take the lid off, there are a lot of cochlearities underneath. - Yes, indeed. I think this goes beyond Canada. Let's take Adolf Heusinger, the ex-chief of staff of NATO, who was one of the major Nazi leaders under Adolf Hitler. And Kurt Waldein, who again was a Nazi. So this goes beyond Canada. I think there's some of it in the US as well. - Yeah, it is true that, of course, even in the case of the Nazis who were given refugees in Canada, there are reports, and I don't know whether they are true or not, that this was encouraged by the US. But I think while this is relevant and important in terms of figuring out what Canada is, but this is not germane to the issue that is between us and Canada. - But in a large way, that you have a background and a society which has got a lot of evil elements in it. - It does, yes. That's right. - And they exist and they are being honored, or they're not being investigated into, but they are part of your society. So you're not as clean and as above board as you want everyone else to believe. All the deficiencies, the democratic and others are only in the rest of the world. - That's right. - Whose societies have to live up and raise themselves up to the standards of Canada. But let's see what the real standards of the Canadians are when they are so tolerant of the Nazi collaborators and the Canadians seek terrorists. Here's a point I want to make. You know earlier I said that the Americans were taking the line that they will only recognize terrorists who have an international footprint. Who are involved in international terrorism. Now what does international terrorism mean? When you have these terrorist elements in the US, in Canada, in the UK, in Australia, in Germany, isn't it international? Isn't it international? In fact it is the heart of what you might call the international order. Because these are the countries which have created this international order. So this Egyptian Khalistan movement is an international terrorist movement. But it's not being considered as such. Now they talk about Islam being Islamic terrorism and stuff like that being international terrorism simply because there are so many Muslim countries and there is a whole concept of pan-Islamism. So they take shelter here and there in the Islamic countries. So therefore it becomes international terrorism. But the Sikh diaspora is very small. I mean they're only in India and in some of the countries that I mentioned otherwise where are the Sikhs? Unlike the Islamic world there's no Sikh world. So actually this is as international as Islamic terrorism because it exists in key Western countries. That's right. Right.


India’s G20 Success (44:46)

Let's move on to the G20. India recently held the 2023 G20 summit. A resounding success. How much of a success do you see this being for India? Great success. Unexpectedly so. When I was not sure that they would, I would not say I was not sure. I was pessimistic that we will not be able to get compromise on a joint statement. For the same reason that the foreign minister meeting, the finance ministers meeting, the development ministers meeting, all meetings that had taken place, key meetings ended with a cheer summary because there was no joint declaration because the West insisted that their language on Ukraine has to be included. It has to be tough and there has to be condemnation of Russia. On the other hand, Russia had hardened its position saying that they no longer accept even the Bali compromise because things have moved since and NATO has stepped up its activities. They're arming Ukraine, putting in billions of dollars and stuff whatever. And that in any case the G20 is not meant to go into security issues. You only have to deal with financial and economic issues. So they hardened their position supported by China. So there was a clear standoff. Now if Biden had come here and under his direct watch they agreed to soften the language and also accept a language that did not condemn Russia. If we would have opened Biden and the Americans and the G7 who've been very, very tough on this issue, two criticism back at home. What is it that all this while ever since the thing began, the United Nations and elsewhere in your G7 statements you've been so tough. But when it comes to G20, you backed off. You gave a Ashari pre so it could have become an issue of serious domestic criticism. And then with Biden there and his election coming, he could have been attacked on this that what's happened, you changed your position, you softened. So I was concerned that it will be very difficult for America to make this concession. But I must say that I was happily surprised that despite the risks involved the United States played a constructive role. And the reasons to my mind are as follows. One is that they wanted absolutely to save the G20 as a platform for a multilateral platform. Because the G20 has the G7 plus the EU as well as the major developing countries. There is a platform on which they can interact with each other, where whatever the agenda, whatever the pronouncements, whatever decisions are taken, have the support of the global South as you were. So if the United States and the G7 want to make sure that the global South should move away entirely away from them, as is beginning to happen, then they must have a platform in which they can interact with each other and get decisions taken, which include what the West wants, but also includes what the global South would want. In other words, a compromise. But if the G20 collapses as a platform, there's nothing left. So A, it was to save the G20. Number two, and in this background, there's a lot of concern that BRICS is becoming more and more relevant and with the expansion of BRICS with new countries, six countries entering, and the prospect that more will enter next year when the summit takes place in Russia. Then you will have an alternative multilateral platform in which the West is completely absent, which means the agenda of the BRICS or multiple reality of de-dollarization or trading in their own currencies of a more equitable and fair international order, more democratic order, that kind of rhetoric and in fact, real felt demands of the developing world will gain more and more currency and will begin to shape international discourse. So with that concern in mind, the G20, where you can lock in some of the countries which are major players in BRICS, you can lock them in and try and develop an agenda which is not anti-West. The third to my mind was India. If Biden or the Americans had remained tough and said, we will not yield, and there was no leaders declaration, it would be a big hit, a big hit that Modi himself and India would have suffered because we put in so much of our, so much effort. Prime Minister Modi put in so much of his own capital into this by making it a national affair. Yes. 120 meeting in, 220 meeting in the 60 locations. Yes. Making the entire country part of this as a coming out party for India. And then the party gets spoiled because it ends with a whimper. So everybody goes home without having tasted the dessert. Yes. So I think that way the US, Biden felt that this would be an unnecessary blow to India and would then damage the prospects, the dynamism of the ties that is very much in developing. And related to that is the fact that you embarrass India who gains China. China does, yes. So if you diminish India, you are giving China even more room. So if India wants to be a leader of the global South, good for America because otherwise China wants to not only take the leadership, has taken the leadership in many ways through the BRI and this and that through the economic route they have. And they have the ambition to mobilize the global South behind them to challenge the United States of America eventually. But India, if India takes the leadership of the global South, it prevents China from having a free play. It counters China. Yes. So if India is stronger in Africa or Southeast Asia or elsewhere, it serves America's interest. Which is why India and America agreed. I don't know how much we'll be able to achieve prospectively to have some kind of joint efforts in Africa, again with China and the India Middle East, Europe corridor, which is backed by America because remember it's India, Middle East, Europe. It's not United States, but United States is in a sense patronizing this, is Godfathering this. Again, the whole idea is that China is developing all these BRI routes through Asia, through Eurasia and they have to be countered by another connectivity project which will link India, the Middle East and Europe. So in this larger perspective, I think the United States decided that they would label at the G20 summit and we had this leaders declaration. The other interesting thing in the leaders declaration, which has not been commented on sufficiently, is the mark India has made on the leadership declaration. Indian ideas in the leadership declaration from Vasudev Kutumbakan, which is there in the preface, which apparently China opposed at one time. Yes. Go to my mind in a very silly way, saying that this is Sanskrit, it has no international acceptance but then this Panchil is Sanskrit also. So why were they objecting to Vasudev Kutumbakan? What is wrong with that? But it's very much there apart from one earth, one family, one future. Then the global, the digital infrastructure. DPI, the Digital Public Infrastructure. Digital Public Infrastructure. Yes. Which is an area in which India has had tremendous success. Yes. It's not something which is talked about in the West very much. Yes. But it is very much part of the leaders declaration. And associated with that is that, and that is there in the leaders declaration, India establishing a global repository for DPI. Yes. Where there will be sharing of ideas or whatever in terms of what the other like the developing world will get from this depository. That is very much there. There is this, we've been pushing this whole thing about minutes. Yes. So therefore there is also about the, but it's been broadened. It's not only minutes, but all these other crops also be broadened. But the idea, it was very much in India's. Yes. That is there. There is also about the infrastructure we have developed and how it serves the development needs of countries and could be a model, you know, Adhar and UPI, although the RUP I don't mention per se, but what we have done in India is very much reflected in the document as a kind of a model that could be pursued. There are a few other things which are. Biofuels as well. Biofuels was outside the, it was outside the G20. Okay. In the sense it is not there in the leaders declaration. Oh, it's from the, okay. Because this is an initiative of Brazil and India, which each and other countries have joined. Yes. Global health. Very much because of the pandemic and everything else, this whole idea of global health infrastructure very much India's idea that has been included. There are one or two other important Indian ideas that figure in this. Of course, there are other ideas like climate finance and the figures that have been spelled out or how much trillions that are needed. All these figures have been worked out by India. Okay. So, it's not something which is Indian idea because this is something which the global south has been demanding in any case in terms of financial and technological transfers from the west in order to meet the climate change challenge. So, it's not specifically an Indian idea, but the meat and substance in terms of facts and figures in the leaders declaration was something that India had worked on. There is also the linkage between the global solar alliance and another global project that India has put in the leaders declaration has been linked to the global solar alliance. This emphasis on hydrogen, because we want to be a hub of production of hydrogen. So, a lot of emphasis on hydrogen. What is the one I forget about? It's been linked to the global solar alliance. I forget it's also very much an Indian idea. So, in that sense, the G20 has a very strong, very strong imprint of Indian ideas. Now, it all depends whether Brazil and South Africa will follow up on this and to what extent they'll follow up on this remains to be seen. But the seriousness with which we've taken G20 and want to push forward the agenda that was agreed on is that we have convened, we've asked for another summit conference virtual at the end of November before we hand over the presidency to Brazil to actually see what in these few months has been done to move the decisions that were taken forward, concretely. I think this also this kind of dynamism that we are showing is a huge success for Indian diplomacy. Right, right.


China’s Role In G20 (59:00)

What do you make of China's role in this year's G20? For instance, like you said, they were being very petty objecting to the term Vasudev kotumbakam. Mr. Xi Jinping did not even attend the summit. He did not even give a reason why, he did not even inform India before informing the media. What do you make of this entire? It was very difficult for him to attend. While these soldiers are masked on the border, his army is masked on the border and we are constantly saying the relations can't be normal unless the situation on the border becomes normal. And then the meeting that the two had briefly at the big summit did not seem productive enough to make it possible to create the space for Xi Jinping to come. So I think he felt that he may not get the kind of limelight that he might otherwise expect. And if, for example, there was no meeting between Modi and Xi, it will be a huge embarrassment to Xi Jinping that he made the gesture of coming to India and he was rebuffed by Modi. Yes. Or for that matter, if some meeting took place and it was prefundary and nothing emerged from it, that won't have helped the diplomacy of either side. And I think one more consideration that he would have had was that he didn't want to meet Joe Biden, the US president on Indian soil in particular. But he's waiting. The Americans are trying to woo him. They sent so many cabinet ministers one after another. They even sent to China. Yeah, that also. But they sent the Treasury Secretary, they sent Blinken, they sent another cabinet level official. They sent Kerry also in order to create ground for a summit between Xi Jinping and President Biden at the APEC meeting in Washington or in the United States. I don't know where exactly it will be in November, I think. So he wants to play this game, have the Americans make more and more concessions. And then he goes with a stronger hand. So therefore he didn't want to meet him prematurely before the Americans had made the overtures that accepting China's demands. So that would have been another reason why he didn't come. The fact that he didn't appoint an ambassador for the last 10 months was an indication that he would not come. Because if he had intended to come, they would have appointed an ambassador. Which they haven't done until today. So these are some of the reasons why he didn't come. But I think on the whole it was good that he didn't come. Because it would have been awkward for him and for us, given the situation on the border. India would have found it very difficult. You see Xi Jinping comes and you ignore him like you ignore Trudeau. That's not good diplomacy. But if he comes and you treat him well, then what does he say? The Chinese will think that you have swallowed what is happening in Ladakh. You are bent, you are willing to reach out. You are taking initiative to find some room for compromise. That's not helpful to our diplomacy either. And then the fact that both Putin and Xi Jinping were absent, I think made a compromise leader declaration more possible. Because if Putin had been there, I don't think Biden would have yielded. Because the way he is demonized and the press demonized and his presence here and what he may have said would have made it more difficult for the Americans and the G7 to make any concessions. So all in all, I think, although of course it had been good if Putin at least had come. But there is also a positive side to it in some sense. Are we seeing a tussle for the leadership of the global south between India and China? For example, India has brought the African Union into the G20. It's not the G21. India is providing its digital public infrastructure, all of that. India stack to the African, to the developing world. China isn't doing much apart from the BRI, which actually serves them. So are we seeing some kind of tussle between India and China for this? See China has more means at its disposal. They can do big infrastructure projects. And these are the kind of things that these countries want. They want. They want to build with ports and this and that. And these are not highly capital intensive projects. When you go to the World Bank, the conditionalities are such that it's difficult to get them to approve because they look at the economics of it, the fact that the level of intention that it could involve. In other words, the economic parameters would be very closely studied. But when it comes to China, they're doing it for very different reasons. So somebody says I want a railway, whether anybody travels on it or doesn't travel, I'm being a bit frivolous. They'll build it. But I'm not also being frivolous because they build hamantota and not a single plane goes there. Exactly. They build that port, nobody goes there. So this way, the developing world values their ties with China because they have this capacity. Other than that, even in the Middle East, they have these huge projects. By 2030, they'll modernize their countries. They know that with all this renewable energy and green stuff, beyond a certain point, oil will lose its salience. Therefore they have to look at other ways to survive. So if you look at what UAE, Saudi Arabia and others, their plans for 2030, they are huge. Trillions of dollars. Now who has got the money? America doesn't have that kind of money. The World Bank and others don't have that kind of money. Their portfolio is not that big. Now until now, I don't know what happens if their economy doesn't do too well in the coming years. They have that. So there'll be very much part of it. Now, even in the India Middle East, Europe corridor, China has built a big railway project in Saudi Arabia already. So how do you exclude China from all this? And then the other countries, the developing countries, the countries of the global south, they want to hedge against the West. Now who is the country whom they can rely on in terms of this hedging policy? Clearly China. Yes, clearly China. Yes. Russia is there, but Russia has been weakened. And Russia has a lot of military strength while it doesn't have financial and economic strength. China has both. So therefore purely for pragmatic reasons, they have to rely on China in order to push back the West. Now lots of things are happening in Africa, French Africa, coup d'etat, the French are being pushed out. Who will replace? It's either Russia or China. Most likely China. Both of them. In some sense, it's Wagner's security. Wagner will pull the security. China will come in a big way. So I don't think we should get into that logic that we have to compete with China. We should do our own thing based on our own strengths. And we've been fairly successful, not as spectacular as China because we don't build those big infrastructure products. But in terms of capacity building, training, health, IT, and some infrastructure products, we are doing very well. And the advantage that we have, two advantages we have, one is that there is recognition in their sizing. Yes. Already the fifth largest and the third largest and whatever. Therefore our capacities will grow. And we are very much in the mode of helping others. The fact that we helped them with the vaccine during the pandemic has left a very powerful impression on many developing countries. But India's willingness to be generous despite its own needs to fulfill the immediate pressing needs of developing countries. So, rising India with bigger economic capacities is obviously a partner they would like to take advantage of as much as possible. And the third is that India has this policy of doing projects which these countries want. Not because we have excess capacities in this area, in that area, and therefore we want to use those excess capacities to find new markets and do those projects in other countries. In other words, it's not mercantilist or simply meant to serve our immediate economic interests. There is a larger dimension to it, though of course the economic interests also come into play. So, I think they find India a more comfortable partner. We do what they want and we train people. And I think the cultural connect is much easier between us and the Africans and the Chinese. They talk about the inscrutable orient. It's not only Japan, it's also China. And our foreign minister said something very interesting that caught my eye in the CFR. You see, the great thing about doing diplomacy with China is that you really don't know what they think. So, if at that diplomatic level with that intensive engagement, you don't know what these guys think. So, you can imagine what others may feel when they deal with the Chinese, what are you thinking, what are your goals, what are your aims, this and that. Anyway, so I think these are some of the advantages we have. We've had these Africa summits, Prime Minister also had I think a couple of them during his nine years in power. So we are continuing our Africa policy and with these new initiatives like the India Middle East, Europe Corridor, we are getting involved in large connectivity projects which would provide an alternative to these countries to China. And the fact, as you rightly said, we propose the inclusion of the African Union in the G20 is something that we can capitalize on. Go mind you, China has big stakes in Africa, big presence in Africa. So it's not as if simply the fact that we brought the African Union in that we have somehow now one over the African countries, 55 of them, it's not as simple as that. But it gives us a standing. It gives us a standing. And there it is. The India Middle East, Europe, trade corridor excludes Turkey.


I.M.E.C Corridor Excludes Turkey, Why? (01:11:27)

It has the US blessing. Was there some reason, I mean there has to be a reason why it kind of bypasses Turkey and goes straight to Greece. And we are also seeing the Turkic world kind of rising. They have recently annexed or are in the process of annexing Nagorno-Karabakh. So the Pan-Turan Pan-Turkey Corridor is more or less here. Are we going to see a rising Turkey, a resurgence of the Turkic world and is the West hedging against that? I'm not too sure if this is quite the case. I'll tell you why because India and the Gulf countries have seen a total transformation of the relations. We've got this FTA with the UAE trade is growing and other contacts at various levels are growing. There is also talks about defense cooperation. And more importantly, the whole idea of a food corridor because these countries don't grow food. India has huge capacities, especially if we go into these coal chains and everything else and improve our infrastructure. We can actually be a source of China is too far away. Yes. Of food security for these countries. This was, this is the core of the idea. Okay. Right. And that is independent of China or Turkey or whatever. Now it has been extended to Europe. Yes. This is where Israel comes in. Yes. Because it is supposed to go through Jordan, IFA and then on to Greece. Yes. Whether it is Piraias or whether it is some other port we'll see. So I think the dynamic of this is not anti-Turk. Okay. It is logical. Okay. In terms of what I said, the kernel of the idea of making the India Gulf and then getting extended but they're saying they took corridors one day southern and the north. Yes. Northern one then goes to Europe. The other is that the China's corridor has got blocked because of the Ukraine war. And the fact that the Baltic states are now, are now, you know, moving out of the 16 plus one or 18, 16 plus one project that China had. Yes. Which the European Union is very worried about. Yes. Lithuania has left but I think one or two others are leaving. And the fact that there is a Ukraine war, the whole idea of the PRI, cutting across Eurasian going to Europe, that has blocked. Yes. So therefore, this corridor becomes more viable. Yes. That is another reason why this corridor has its own logic. With regard to Turkey, Turkey is the most unreliable country. Yes. And Erdogan is totally unreliable. I don't think anybody trusts him. But he's been very successful in blackmailing everybody. Yes. So the Russians don't know, he downed a Russian plane but they're the best of friends. Yeah. Right. And he tells the Swedes we'll let you in if you do this, if you do that. So he bargains constantly. Yeah. And he says that I will open my borders and all these refugees. Refugees. In Europe, what in return give me some billions of dollars. And now he said that I let Sweden in if I get F-16s from United States. So this kind of a thing. So would the countries want to put more eggs into the Turkish basket despite some advantages that they may have? The Turkish economy is in doldrums. Yes. And Turkey, Erdogan succeeded in alienating all his neighbors. And now Erdogan has realized that he overstatched Turkey's ambitions. He's tried to mail out Saudi Arabia. He's even trying to make up in some sort of a way with Syria. So and then when it comes to the Orno Karabakh that you mentioned, two things here. One that it was a great opportunity for Azerbaijan to do this when everybody is distracted. Yes, of course. And so they gone ahead and done it and embarrassed Russia. The Russian peacekeepers are there. But the Russians themselves are unhappy at Armenia's closeness to the United States. That's right. So there are a lot of wheels within wheels. Now the surprising thing is that while Russia's military operation in Ukraine has risen the entire Western world against it, Azerbaijan grabbing an Orno Karabakh, the territorial expansion hasn't got a squeak virtually. Nothing at all. Yeah. So there it is. Double standards. There it is. Double standards. Yes. Like you mentioned, BRICS has expanded six new nations coming in, maybe more this year.


BRICS Expansion, Will It Help China or India? (01:16:58)

What do you make of it? Is it like something that will strengthen China's hand or is it something that will help India as well? And there's always the prospect of them bringing Pakistan in. They both India and Brazil were not in favor of a rapid expansion of BRICS. After all, if you look at the SCO, we became a member after many, many years. Even in SCO, like in the case of ASEAN, you begin as an observer, then a dialogue partner, then a full member. So there was no reason not to follow the same approach when it came to expansion of BRICS that you have observers, then dialogue partners, and then full members. But both Russia and China wanted the expansion, restful expansion immediately. For Russia, it was important to demonstrate that they were not isolated, that more and more countries were wanting to join BRICS and for Russia, much less China, but for Russia. This would be a major step towards actually moving towards multipolarity. For China, they don't care that much about multipolarity because they want bipolarity. They do. They do, actually. Yes. But yes, they talk about multipolarity, but not so much as Russia does. For China, it was important because China now dominates the BRICS financially, economically. After all, the new development bank under BRICS, China has a bigger share. Of course, they've also created the Asia Infrastructure Development, Infrastructure Investment Fund, which is Chinese funded, but there's another instrument they have under their control, which is attractive for BRICS because they don't want to go to the World Bank and ADB. They can dip into those resources. The new development bank, as you know, has now new members, including Bangladesh. So China has that financial clout. And with its rising stature, it also now has more political clout. It is much more present in the developing world than Russia is. So they also had an interest as part of the leadership struggle with the United States. After all, you will have a situation where it is the NATO and G7 on one side, right? Yes. And China and potentially the global south, Russia, of course, on the other side. So this is part of that project. Now it would have been very difficult for India to say, "No, we will not accept any expansion." At the end of the day, you have to have good reason to block anything. And then we have to be sensitive to what Russia would want to do. So therefore, the whole game was that 23 countries are applied. You can't take in 23 countries at one go. Who should you take? So the bargaining was on that basis. And the countries eventually, the selectors, six of them, were acceptable to all sides, especially to India. These six countries, from India's point of view, create no problems for us because with five of these countries, we have a strategic partnership. With five of these countries, the leaders have visited India and been chief guests at our Republic Day. The only odd country out is Ethiopia. But Ethiopia is the largest recipient of our financial credits to Africa. So we have a very long-standing relationship with Ethiopia. So we would have no objection to Ethiopia, though it didn't measure up strictly in terms of credentials as an African country would be an obvious candidate for expansion of bricks. Nigeria would be much more credible candidate, but Nigeria said that we are not applied. For what reason, I can't say. So now there is some awkwardness, if you like, in the expansion of bricks because out of these six countries, four or five, if you include Ethiopia, really because of this situation on the... Eritrea thing. Eritrea thing and the Horn and the Red Sea and all that. They are all in the same region. Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Ethiopia. They are the same region. Latin America and Argentina. And the other in the Middle East, there is no one from Asia. There's not, yes. That is surprising. You have five countries from one region, but nothing from Asia. Indonesia had applied, but at the last minute, they've been proved. And with all those said that they had withdrawn their application because they wanted to study more the pros and cons of membership. Why they did that, who they were pressured, who pressured them, whether within the ASEAN, there was some advice that you are joining an overtly anti-Western camp as it is touted to be by many, that this will affect their leadership of ASEAN because they'll be singled out as a country which has joined a grouping which the West is not happy about. And some may say this will be a stepping step to join a cohort in some ways, stuff like that. The Americans may have pressed them. I can't say. So, this is where we are. So we have no particular reason to be unhappy because the countries that are coming are our friends. They are friends. They are close to China also, but that's neither here nor there. Whether China will dominate the BRICS, so long as India is there and Russia still considers itself a great power, which in some ways it is, I don't think China can dominate like the US dominates the G7. That parallel is not there. But yes, the weight of a country will be felt in any case. But it's not as if other countries, again, to repeat what I said, like the G7, the G6 can't move without the United States. The security is dependent on the United States. And the economies are totally tied to the United States in so many ways. So I don't think they can dominate, but yes, they'll have weight. But India will have its own weight, Russia will have its own weight, Brazil will have its own weight. South Africa has certain leadership ambitions, as you know, the South African president went to Russia to try and mediate between Ukraine and Russia. So I think there, when we talk about India being a proponent of African Union membership of the G20 and therefore leadership of the global South, I don't think it is as simple and as easy as it is. South Africa has its own ambitions, in Africa especially. So nobody, no country likes to, in other countries, to be a leader or demonstratively act as a leader. What we are doing and what we will do is not to take leadership, but using the G20 platform as we have done since we were presiding to use our role to project the interests of the global South. This is not leadership in that sense, of the global South in that sense, the way it is being construed. It is a larger agenda of shifting the balances within the international system. If the EU with 27 members can be a member of G20, why not an African Union with 55 members? And this will be appreciated by them. Some countries are very vocal about India's leadership if you like, but I think we have to be a little careful. In Latin America, Brazil is a leader in its own right. Argentina is the second biggest country in Latin America. With Saudi Arabia and UAE, especially Saudi Arabia, they have very big interests in China. After all, it is India and China, their biggest market for oil. Plus they need finances for their nine project. No, nine project is a big city they are building, kind of a Singapore they are building within Saudi Arabia. They need foreign investment. And China is a source for big investment in terms of building infrastructure. We have a role to play in terms of the global South. Our credentials are stronger than those of China because we've always been part of the global South. China has never been part of the global South. It hasn't. It is G77. It is G77 plus China. It is not an integral part of the G77. But China is an economic partner and a political partner for these countries and to some extent also will become a military partner. So in that game of countries hedging their bets of trying to create bigger space for themselves in the international system and that includes India. BRICS is a good platform.


African Coups, Is France Losing? (01:28:49)

Africa has been in the news recently, the Sahel region. There have been coups in this region. France seems to be in the process of being pushed out of the region. In the past, ECoVAS would have intervened and done something about this. But right now nothing is happening. Is France losing its grip in this region? Yes, obviously. Big setback in Niger. They have now agreed to call back their ambassador, which they were earlier resisting. And by the end of the year, they are armed contingent. They will move out also. And there have been other coups, three other countries in the region. And they have all come together and they want to shed the influence that ex-colonial powers were building on their polity and economy and financial system. Yes. They also haven't appreciated the fact that France, for example, was fighting terrorism in this region. They are not convinced that France was, rightly or wrongly, was actually fighting terrorism the way it should have been fought. Of course, that leads you to the bigger question. Why has this problem with terrorism? Because of destruction of Libya. Yes, that's right. In which France had a big role to play. That is beside the point. What I mean is that these countries would then perhaps ask the question, it's fine. You're fighting terrorism, but who's created space for this terrorism in the first place? Yes. Anyway, this is an issue, not a point, is who will fill up this vacuum? I'm told that the French big industry, big companies have already moved out of this region. Their banks have moved out, even before this thing happened. In other words, France has loosened its grip in this region, even before these coups occurred. They are worried that now that they are not able to be on the spot to fight against terrorism, their own problems in Europe will increase. Because there is a serious problem of Islamic terrorism in France and in Europe. So they're worried about that. So it certainly is set back from their point of view in the fight against terrorism. I also think that France's stature within Europe was also based on the fact that it has this hinterland in Africa. Whereas Germany's hinterland was Eastern Europe, France's hinterland was North Africa. And then going beyond that to these countries in western Africa. So its international power image gets damaged. And then it gets damaged within the UN system also. Because even India some years ago always felt that if you want to have an entree into French-speaking Africa, you should go through France, tie up with the French. Now that line of thinking has lost relevance. And that diminishes France as an interlocutor in the eyes of those countries who thought that France had a particular weight and say in West Africa. So it's a fluid situation. But these countries can't manage on their own either. They can't. They can't. So whether they'll be able to financially get the resources they need to run the country, where the help will come from, to what extent China will want to move in. And Niger has a lot of uranium. It does, yes. So there will be a lot of people who might be interested. China might be interested with their huge expansion of nuclear power in the country. They'll need access to uranium. So it's a fluid situation. That's right. What do you make of Saudi Arabia deciding to join BRICS? Are they trying to distance themselves from the West? Yes, of course. For a number of reasons. One is which may not be the most important, which is the personal thing. It's a personal thing, yes. MBS. Where Biden called MBS a pariah. And the Arabs, what they are, they're very sentimental people. So he has reacted. But I think it goes beyond that. It is that Saudi Arabia sees a change happening globally. We all know that our political and economic has shifted from the West to the East more and more. Yes. And now with China having become what it is and India rising, the Saudis would have felt that they need to balance their interests and not be seen purely as aligned to America or the West. But equally important is the fact that from their perspective, the US has lost interest relatively in this region. Because earlier on, this region was a source of oil to the United States. Now the United States is itself a big exporter of oil and gas. Therefore the Saudis would have reasoned that we are being left to ourselves to manage our security needs. We can't anymore rely on the United States. Therefore what do we do? Therefore we make up with Iran. So they made up with Iran. Now these discussions between Iran and Saudi Arabia took place in Iraq and in Oman. But neither Iraq nor Oman can guarantee this peace. So they needed a guarantor. So the United States can't be a guarantor. So they went to China. So China has got this benefit of being the country that mediated this is not true. It just is that they have used China as a kind of protection. Because China has a very strong region, Iran and Saudi Arabia. So that's the third reason why. And the fourth reason is that Saudi's whole approach to India has changed remarkably. Yes very much. And it's beginning to change with the ways that I also, but that's another matter. India is a member of BRICS. India has demonstrated and this is something which many countries have noticed very successfully that you can be friends with all. You can improve your relations with the United States dramatically and still be a member of SCO and BRICS and talk about strategic autonomy and now continue to do continue more and more to trade in rupees and stuff like that. So why can't other countries do this? Be friends with all. Yes. Don't be in one camp. I think this model of dealing with countries internationally that India has shown is viable. For some countries who are in a position to follow this model they want to do that. Right. Right. Yes. So Saudi Arabia is definitely following that approach.


US Elections (01:37:31)

2024 is a big year. It's an election year in India, in the US, in Russia as well. What do you make of the US scenario? I mean, we are seeing an unlikely candidate Vivek Ramaswami that Indians are really interested in on the Republican side, on the Democrat side. There's the possibility Biden may run again possibly. You may even have the new Kennedy, RFK junior. What do you make of the situation? Very difficult situation in front of us because Biden is not considered a very viable candidate. The feeling is if Biden is in the fray this time, Trump will beat him. And they're desperately trying to make it impossible for Trump to fight the election by excluding him through legal processes. Now there's a lot of fear and concern in Europe what happens if Trump comes back to power. That the entire structure that they have built, especially relating to Russia and Ukraine and all could collapse. So Biden is considered very old. Already he's 79, 80 or whatever. And then the feeling that he has cognitive difficulties. But then they don't seem to have an alternative viable candidate. The deep state doesn't want Kamala Harris. Now this Gary Newsom, the governor of California, he's a candidate. He seems to be emerging as a candidate. So if he does, whether he can beat Trump properly, I can't say. But the long and short is that American politics is in a mess. You have this scenario of, they talk about rule of law, democracy, transparency and everything else. But the manner in which the legal machinery is being used against Trump. I would say we are a character, he may be in the eyes of many, but they have actually instrumentalized their institutions against a particular candidate. They talk about India having grabbed institutions, the BJP government having grabbed institutions and therefore backsliding of democracy. But I think you have the same thing in the United States of America. And then you have a candidate who's visibly very old and very fit medically. And you have Trump who's unpredictable and who has his very serious charges against him. Whether the president of the largest democracy, the biggest democracy, most powerful democracy in the world should be a figure like that. Does it give a sense of comfort to the rest of the world? India may not have a particular problem with that, but I think the larger issues involved within NATO and Europe and this and that. And at the end of the day, there have been questions about who wins or loses in US elections. That's also not very clear. So unlike in our case, democracy functions, electoral democracy functions because it's not contested. If the BJP wins or somebody else wins, it's not contested. The election is fair. Nobody says that you are one illegally. Yes, that's right. But in America, they do. So I have no answer to your question as to what the scenario is in the United States. At the end of the day, there will be a contest, presidential contest. There will be a candidate. Kennedy I don't think so. I don't think so. And neither will be a Grandma Swami. Who else it could be, as I said, the name that now coming up is Gary Newsom. He could be a candidate. And on the Republican side, Trump is the... you can't oust Trump. And he'll fight back. But he's a viable candidate. Yes. So there it is. I get the sense that the Rama Swami is angling to be number two. This is what Trump has said. He has said that. He said he'll be a great vice president. I see. All right. So that's where we are seeming to be heading to.


External Interference In Indian Elections (01:42:54)

What do you make of the election season is almost upon us over here in India. Do you think there's going to be attempts to interfere in a variety of ways, in our electoral process? For example, through propaganda, through the media. It's already happening. It's happening. It's already happening in a very big way. Not now. It's been happening for some time. I think 2019 didn't succeed. And contrary to expectations of everyone, BJP came back with a single party majority. Now the game plan of the opposition, both in India and abroad, and they are linked. Some of them are linked. It would be that if you can't defeat Modi, which is unlikely, at least this will not be a single party majority. And therefore, Modi is not able to do what he wants to do. There's a little bit of a check on him. The country will benefit from that situation is far from their minds. It's far from the point. At the end of the day, who are these opposition parties? They are all regional parties. I'm excluding the Congress for a moment. They're all regional parties. So whether they have a national view, I don't know. They have, I think, a much more parochial view. Yes. But if they can keep their VF, that's good enough. In any case, they want a weakening of the center, which is the game Congress is playing. And Congress is openly asking elements of fraud to interfere in our political system, inviting them to interfere in our political system, giving them reason to interfere in our political system. So I think there would be attempts, whether they're successful or not, to prevent a single party majority. On the other hand, you never know. I think some indication will come after the Rajasthan and the Bangladesh elections, especially not so much Chhattisgarh, not so much Al-Nagana and the other state, which is Chhattisgarh. Not sure. Baghel is the team minister of the state. Jharkhand. Jharkhand, yes. Jharkhand. So there, I don't think the BJP will win. But if they win, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, that will be a boost, morale booster. If they don't, it will affect the morale, but it may not affect the eventual result. Because people do differently in state elections, in national elections. And Modi certainly has commandeered deep political support within the country. Personally I feel that they should come back with a single party majority. That's what India needs. And the kind of initiatives the prime minister has taken, the reforms that this government has done are remarkable. They shouldn't be slowed down. They are changing the face of India. And therefore that project has to be carried forward. And if it gets slowed down, then all our ambitions to be the third largest economy by 2027, whatever else we have in mind, and the transformation of our country in the ways we manage ourselves, which is happening through the digital transformation and everything else, those projects. And not only that, Gati Shakti, development of infrastructure, all those things, they need a man of dynamism vision who is forging ahead single-mindedly to do two things. Open up more doors of business and create more social welfare. So it's not as if he's only working at one level. He's also carrying the larger public along through the social welfare schemes. Which again depend on how much economic growth we can generate. That's right. Yes. Which then depends on governance. Yes. Which then depends on BJP winning a single party majority. So I hope that happens, but the voter will ultimately decide. Right. What do you mean, make of India's foreign policy the way it's been conducted?


Indias New Foreign Policy (01:47:42)

I mean, in 2012, 2013, we saw a shift in the way the Chinese conduct the foreign policy, full-f Some people accuse India of going in that direction. India is being more forceful, more pushing back more. Do you agree with such a reason? No, we're not abusing anybody. We're not abusing anybody. Full-f I've seen instances where there was downright abuse and mocking. Chinese ambassadors sitting in countries mocking at the leadership of that country in a very harsh, abusive manner. Which is not, we are not doing that at all. We are in a very reasonable way through arguments, through projection of our viewpoint, countering the propaganda against us or the attacks against us on his fronts. If you tell the Western world that there are double standards, this is not a wolf fire or a diplomacy. It is a fact of life, which even the previous governments were saying, but not perhaps had occasion to say this so much and repeatedly for the simple reason, they were not being attacked the way this government is being attacked. That's right. Yes. So, when we are hectored on Ukraine, on Russia, on buying oil from Russia, on democracy, backsliding on minority issues or curbing religious freedoms and freedom of speech and curbing dissent, grabbing institutions and things like that, this is the lead motive of the Western media and think tanks. Fortunately, that language, which was there some years ago about fascism and Nazis and all that, that has vanished. That's not there anymore, but the rest of it is there. What do you do? You have to push back. Yes. And you have to push back in a very reasonable way by reflecting our viewpoint and reminding them of their own, as I said, double standards and reminding them that they themselves have a lot to answer for and many of the things that they do or they don't do. Right. Not be selective, as a foreign minister said in his speech, that when it comes to issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity, then you cherry pick that our sovereignty and territorial integrity is not important, but theirs is important. Or if the Ukraine war is truly a European war. It is. If you say, look, it's a European war and you are dragging us into it. This is telling the truth. It's a fact. That Europe, he said that when it comes to Europe, they want European problems with the world's problems, with the world problems and not European problems. It is because when he explains our foreign policy in think tanks or in meetings, the president journalists or experts, they ask him very tough, aggressive questions. Yes. So he just counters them in a thoughtful, reasonable way. They are not all for the world policy. And why should we be humble and say, right?


Diplomacy: Youth Perspective

Youngsters In Diplomacy (01:51:20)

My final question to you is a two part question. First of all, is there a need or a case for expanding India's diplomatic core? And secondly, how can youngsters get into diplomacy? These days, lots of youngsters are interested in the foreign service, in geopolitics, all that. So how would they do that? In terms of expansion, we are expanding. But you can't expand at one go. After all, diplomacy is a career. And you get trained in diplomacy as you rise in position and get more experience. So it's not as if you can suddenly take in people and say that you can be good diplomats. If you let's increase the number of intakes, as it is in my time, we had only 10 people. Per year? Per year. Per year, you have 30, 40, God knows how many. Let's say you increase to 100, you won't have 100 candidates. In our case, we had actually seven regular seats and three reserved seats. But out of the seven, the five of us were in the first 10 in the all-India list. Now when you want to have a foreign service officer, you have to go down way, way down into the civil services exam list. I see. Yeah. There have been cases in the past, I don't know what the situation is today, where people joined the foreign service while it was not their first choice. Okay, wow. So therefore you can't expand it like that. I see. Now when it comes to lateral entry, some may say you can bring in people laterally. Laterally. First of all, at what level would you bring them in? If you bring in experienced people, first of all, if they are experienced and doing well in whatever they are doing, they won't want to join the foreign service. But if they're not doing well, and they want to have another opportunity somewhere, then does it help you to bring people who have not been successful in whatever, innovating themselves? Yes. Right. And then when people want to join, at whatever, laterally, they all want to become ambassador, because unless you're an ambassador, there's no fun in being in the foreign service. But we can't agree the number of countries. So, give it to the numbers. So it becomes a rat race. So it's not easy, but as I said, I think we now take 30, 40 or 30, 35, whatever the number is. So we are expanding. But there is a big flaw in thinking, and I've been addressing this in the past. When you go to any of our big missions, the people from the foreign service on that mission are just a handful. Maybe six, seven, in big missions. The rest, we may have a mission of 40. Only six, seven, maybe from the foreign service. The rest are from where? They are from the consular wing. They are from the home ministry. There is the air attaché, the military attaché, the naval attaché. There is representation from the atomic energy and some of these things that we had from the railways. We have representation from the DRDO on the technology side. Commerce ministry. We have from the commerce ministry, from the finance ministry. So there are, in a sense, a mission, big missions, a microcosm of the government of India or the major ministry of the government of India. And they're all diplomats. They're all diplomats, so they all be in the diplomatic list. But the foreign service officers would be very few. In other words, when you talk about handling our diplomacy, it's not only the six, seven people in a large mission who are doing that. It is the whole gamut of the members of the mission from various ministries who are also part of your diplomatic effort. Similarly here, it may be that external affairs ministry may have a limited number, but is external affairs ministry doing all diplomacy? No. The finance ministry is doing its own diplomacy. After all, in the G20 meeting, the finance minister and the central bank governor met separately to discuss international financial matters. The development ministers met separately. The climate change thing is done by the environmental ministry. Defense ministry does all the defense stuff with foreign governments. All the exercises that we are doing, the visits that our army chiefs make, or the big conferences they hold in India. They just had this called army chiefs conference, it's all part of our diplomacy. So similarly on the cultural side, they do their own diplomacy in terms of holding cultural festivals and this and that, blazing with UNESCO and what have you. Except that you look at it very narrowly, the ministry of external affairs is relatively small in number and therefore we need more diplomats. What I'm saying is that without being diplomats, there are large numbers of people in the government of India who are doing diplomacy without being formally acknowledged as diplomats. Very interesting.


How To Get Into Diplomacy (01:57:29)

How would somebody get into diplomacy? Let's say if you are an 18 year old, you want a career in diplomacy, you want to be in a foreign service. First of all, you have to want to be in the foreign service like I wanted to be. So it should be your first choice. It has to be your first choice. And therefore, since we have a competitive exam, then you must compete and must succeed. There is no other way. There is no other way. Which means you have to study hard. You should do well. It's not a spoiled system like in some other countries where if you are related to the amir, you become a diplomat. You have to compete and there is no other way. Now if you want to prepare yourself for that, that's a different matter. You study those subjects which will help you to take the exam and give you a good start in your diplomatic career because either you studied international law or international relations or languages or you got a degree from JNU on international relations like, or PhD for that matter. Like Jaishankar has. So this is how it is. There is no simple answer to this. Right. Okay, Dr. Sibyl, thank you so much for spending your valuable time with me for this podcast.


Closing Remarks

Conclusion (01:59:10)

I have a lot more questions, but I'm going to stop it over here. So thank you so much. And finally, congratulations on your appointment to be the chancellor of the JNU. It's great news. Well, thank you very much. It came as a surprise. I won't say it was an unpleasant surprise. But there it is. Let's see what it entails. Thank you very much. My pleasure. If you enjoyed this conversation, please join my WhatsApp channel for exclusive behind the scenes content. Thank you very much. And don't forget to like and subscribe here on YouTube.


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