India Should Also Talk About Pacific Ocean When Discussing Maritime Interest, Says EAM Jaishankar

India Should Also Talk About Pacific Ocean When Discussing Maritime Interest, Says EAM Jaishankar

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday said that while discussing India’s maritime interest, talking about the Indian Ocean and not the Pacific Ocean shows a limitation of thinking and the country should go beyond this line of thought. “Indo-Pacific is a new strategic concept going on in the world,” news agency PTI quoted him as saying.

Speaking at an event to unveil the Gujarati translation of his book, ‘The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World’, EAM Jaishankar said that the idea that India should not interfere with other countries is a “dogma” which should change.

“So far, we think about the Indian Ocean whenever we think about oceans. This is the limitation of our thinking that we talk about the Indian Ocean whenever we talk about maritime interest,” Jaishankar said.

“But more than 50 per cent of our trade goes towards the East, towards the Pacific Ocean. The line between the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean is only on the map, exists on an atlas, but there is no such thing in reality…We should go beyond the historical lines in our thinking, because our interest has increased. Indo-Pacific is a new strategic concept going on in the world,” he added.

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Referring to a chapter in his book, he said that the fact that India should not interfere with the problems of others is a kind of “dogma.”

“It is possible that we did not have the capacity and it was not in our interest in the 1950s and 1960s, but some days back we became the fifth largest economy. The thinking of someone on the 20th number and 5th number cannot be the same. We should change according to our capacity. The confidence that we should display is not there, and it is not so because our habits keep us tied up,” EAM Jaishankar said.

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The minister also focused on the importance of getting public feedback when determining a policy.

“Sometimes we should also think in which direction the public is going. It should not happen that a policy is going in one direction, and the public in another direction. The connection between the public and government — how to take the feedback. Feedback is important for good governance,” he said, adding, “For policy also there is a need to take feedback, and this is possible when we can connect with the masses.”

Talking about China, Jaishankar said it is India’s “super neighbour” and there is a lesson to learn from its progress.

“China is our neighbour, and in a way our super neighbour. It is the biggest neighbour, when you look at its power, its economy, where it has reached, its development. We also have to see if there is a lesson for us in its progress, and its impact on us, on our interest, its influence on our other neighbours,” he said.

“China’s economy is more than four times our own. I believe that our thinking should be competitive rather than negative,” he added.