Dr Jaishankar said the real obstacles to India's rise are no longer global barriers, but Delhi's dogmas. He stated the purposeful pursuit of India's interest in shifting global dynamics might not be easy, with unsettled borders, an unintegrated region and under-exploited opportunities coming in the way of India's quest to become a leading power.
"The fact remains that even after seven decades of independence, many of our borders remain unsettled. In the economic sphere, we may look good when benchmarked against our own past. It seems a little different when compared to China or South East Asia. So what really matters is to develop a sharp awareness about our own performance," quipped Dr Jaishankar while delivering a lecture in New Delhi on Thursday 14 November.
The border disputes with Pakistan and China elude a settlement. Lately, Nepal also contested New Delhi's demarcation of its borders in the Himalayan nation. New Delhi and Beijing had held several rounds of discussions on their border dispute. Both countries share a nearly 4,000-kilometre border, most of which is disputed, including Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls South Tibet.
"This was the case with engaging China in the 1950s as part of a larger post-colonial front, even as political differences sharpened over a boundary dispute and a Tibet complication. The experience with Pakistan was similar, despite that country moving to greater reliance on terrorism. To some extent, this is a debate about realism and hard security," said Dr Jaishankar, a diplomat-turned-minister, who was also New Delhi's envoy to Beijing.
Dr Jaishankar says the relevance of the US or China in the world order is far greater than anytime before. At the same time, India's relationship with Russia has defied odds by remaining incredibly steady.
The minister spoke about India's decision to remain out of the recently concluded Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, RCEP in Bangkok. "Embracing the new dogma of globalisation without a cost-benefit analysis is equally dangerous," said Dr Jaishankar.
"We negotiated till the very end, as indeed we should. Then, knowing what was on offer, we took a call. And that call was that 'no agreement' at this time was better than a 'bad agreement'. It is also essential to recognise what the RCEP is not. It is not about stepping back from the Act East policy, which in any case is deeply rooted in distant and contemporary history. Our cooperation spans so many domains that this one decision does not really undermine the basics," he explained.