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Interpreting The Indian External Affairs Minister's Insight Into Nationalism & Internationalism
While some countries do indeed unilaterally sacrifice their international partnerships in misguided pursuits of national interests just like some unilaterally sacrifice their national interests in misguided pursuits of international ones, the example set by India under External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s stewardship proves that a balance can be struck so long as a state’s strategists are visionary and pragmatic enough to do so.
Indian External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was asked during an event on Saturday whether it’s possible for countries to simultaneously practice nationalist and internationalist policies. These worldviews are generally considered to be polar opposites, yet India’s top diplomat showed that they’re actually complementary so long as they’re properly applied. Here’s how EAM Jaishankar answered this tricky question according to the Hindustan Times:
“You know in our country, one of us might proudly say - 'I am nationalist'. In some other countries, people may shy away from saying so because of it being looked at negatively. In many countries, nationalism and internationalism are opposite to each-other. But in our county, we gave vaccines... each one of us when we read that people in other countries thanked us, did we not feel good? There is nothing to be apologetic in being nationalist.
Same people have done more projects abroad, they have offered more support. They have moved forward in disaster situations. But foreign newspapers like using words like 'Hindu nationalists'. They will not say Europe or Christian nationalist. These adjectives are especially reserved for us. So next time, when you see this... just observe how wrongly they are reading into it. This country is getting to do more with the world not less.”
What he’s basically saying is that the pursuit of objective national interests, which is what he’s conceptualizing the term nationalism as being in the foreign policy context, doesn’t automatically equate to isolationism. He likewise doesn’t believe that prioritizing foreign partnerships, which is what he’s conceptualizing the term internationalism as being in the foreign policy context, automatically equates to eroding one’s sovereignty either.
Under his stewardship as guided by the grand strategic goals set out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India rapidly rose as a globally significant Great Power over the past year due to its pragmatic policy of principled neutrality towards the Ukrainian Conflict, which built upon India’s foreign policy traditions. Instead of taking sides in the New Cold War’s top proxy war, with there being nationalist and internationalist arguments for supporting either party, India sought to balance between both.
The resultant outcome that was brought about by its diplomats’ masterful practice of this policy is that India became the kingmaker in the worldwide competition over the direction of the global systemic transition. It continues reaping mutual economic benefits from the US-led West’s Golden Billion while simultaneously reforming International Relations together with its partners in the jointly BRICS- & SCO-led Global South whose interests it’s proudly representing during its G20 chairmanship this year.
From the perspective of the nationalist and internationalist concepts that EAM Jaishankar touched upon in his answer on Saturday, this grand strategy advances both by making India the core of the third pole of influence for shattering the Sino-American bi-multipolar superpower duopoly over International Relations by positioning itself as the engine of the global systemic transition’s tripolar phase. In other words, India’s national interests require robust international engagement in order to be ensured.
Traditional International Relations theory would describe this Great Power’s foreign policy calculations as being driven by the Neo-Realist school of thought since the pursuit of objective interests takes precedence over promoting subjective values like that school’s Neo-Liberal opponents prioritize. This is a secular-scientific description of India’s foreign policy formulations that has nothing to do with the religion that the majority of its population practices, ergo the inaccuracy is calling it “Hindu nationalist”.
The preceding observation segues nicely into what EAM Jaishankar was referring to when he noted that the US-led Western Mainstream Media (MSM) and those non-Western outlets that are under its influence don’t refer to the similar foreign policy of some Golden Billion states as “Christian nationalist”. Reading between the lines, he appears to be implying that the false innuendo of Hindu influence over India’s foreign policy formulation is intended to externally exacerbate communal tensions.
This interpretation is predicated on the recent context of the BBC’s latest “documentary” about the 2002 Gujarat riots attempting to do precisely that, hence why India banned its viewing within its borders, including on social media. Opportunists then spun that UN-enshrined expression of India’s sovereign right to protect itself from Hybrid War threats via its latest practice of “Democratic Security” as so-called “censorship” in a cheap attempt to score political points at the expense of its reputation.
Considering the way in which some among the Golden Billion are trying to externally exacerbate communal tensions in India by manipulating a portion of its population’s perceptions in parallel with impugning that country’s soft power in the eyes of others, EAM Jaishankar felt that it was time to comprehensively discredit the false claims of his country’s foreign policy being “Hindu nationalist”. Not only did this protect the integrity of its policy formulation, but it also contributed to political science.
As was earlier explained, he presented a novel way in which the two seemingly opposite concepts of nationalism and internationalism are fused into a hybrid for effectively advancing a country’s grand strategic goals amidst the ongoing global systemic transition. This secular-scientific approach is insightful because it clarifies false perceptions about foreign policy formulation together with inspiring observers to reconceptualize the ways in which they analyze other countries’ related approaches to the world.
Everything isn’t as clear-cut as the MSM tries to manipulate its targeted audience into thinking that it is. While some countries do indeed unilaterally sacrifice their international partnerships in misguided pursuits of national interests just like some unilaterally sacrifice their national interests in misguided pursuits of international ones, the example set by India under EAM Jaishankar’s stewardship proves that a balance can be struck so long as a state’s strategists are visionary and pragmatic enough to do so.