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‘Nationalism not a negative sentiment’: Jaishankar at World Economic Forum

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday underlined the fact that there was no contradiction in being nationalistic and engaging with the world at the same time. He stressed that India was an outlier in that sense and that its economic ambitions do not sit at odds with its nationalism.

“India is an exception as we are more nationalistic, but at the same time we don’t see a tension between being nationalistic and being international, in the sense of engaging more with the world, so nationalism is not a negative sentiment,” S Jaishankar said while speaking at the World Economic Forum in Delhi.

Explaining the point further, he said in many negotiations India not only stands for its own interest but of the developing world when it comes to trade and climate change. The minister went on to add that it was “economic nationalism”.

Speaking about the regional cooperation, the minister said it has been a good story, barring one country in the neighbourhood.

“The entire neighbourhood, minus one, has been a fairly good story for regional cooperation,” said Jaishankar.

Asked if he would call the situation with the “minus one” a permanent impasse, the minister refused to buy the argument. “I wouldn’t. Then I would be admitting something is not possible that diplomacy has limits and I cannot ever accept that,” said the former top diplomat.

He added he hopes “even the minus one” will come around.

“With everybody else, trade is on the increase, business is on the increase and at some stage it would have an impact,” said Jaishankar.

The minister highlighted that if one were to travel around the world, south Asia, Indian subcontinent is among the least regionalised economies.

Jaishankar said that the intent was visible from the very start as shown by PM Modi when he invited the neighbouring leaders during his first swearing in ceremony in 2014. “We have to convince our neighbours that Indian economy is a lifting tide for all of them,” said the minister.

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