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Indian Foreign Service is not arrogant but confident: Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar | Photo Credit: PTI

External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on Saturday defended the Indian Foreign Service which was described by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as "arrogant". Mr Gandhi had made the observation about the Indian diplomats during an interaction in London on Saturday.

"Yes, the Indian Foreign Service has changed. Yes, they follow the orders of the Government. Yes, they counter the arguments of others. No, its not called Arrogance. It is called Confidence. And it is called defending National Interest," said Mr Jaishankar.

Mr Gandhi had spoken about the greater need for using conversation to navigate through the challenges before the contemporary world and recollected critical impressions by European bureaucrats about Indian diplomats.

"I was talking to bureaucrats from Europe and they said the Indian Foreign Service has completely changed and won’t listen to anything, they're arrogant. Now they just tell us what orders they're getting, there's no conversation; you can’t do that," said Mr Gandhi at "Ideas for India" conference in London.

Indian diplomats have hit the headlines in the recent past because of tough public exchanges with colleagues from other countries. Diplomats of China for example have been known to practice an aggressive style called "wolf warrior diplomacy" but Indian officials till recently avoided public spats or combative exchanges.

This change in style of negotiations was led by Dr Jaishankar himself who repeatedly gave hard hitting responses to western powers whenever they questioned India's neutrality over Russian invasion of Ukraine.

When questioned about India's decision to deepen energy trade with Russia even as Moscow bombed Ukrainian cities, Mr Jaishankar defended Indian stance during a press event in the U.S. on the sideline of the latest India-US "2+2" ministerial dialogue and said, "If you're looking at (India's) energy purchases from Russia, I'd suggest your attention should be on Europe. We buy some energy necessary for our energy security. But I suspect, looking at figures, our purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon."

The Minister's comparison between "European afternoon" and "Indian month" called out Europe's position which aimed for isolating Russia while buying large volume of energy from Moscow. Similar "war of words" style was used by India's Permanent Representative TS Tirumurti at the UN in the first week of May. After the envoy of Netherlands Karel van Oosterom posted a comment in social media regarding India abstaining during a vote on Ukraine, Mr Tirumurti shot back saying, "Kindly don’t patronize us Ambassador. We know what to do."

These remarks sometimes drew admiration from certain political sections. Shiv Sena's Priyanka Chaturvedi had described Mr Jaishankar's defence of India's energy trade with Russia as "superb".

Mr Gandhi however indicated his choice for articulating Indian position on Ukraine and contentious global issues through traditional foreign policy formulations, "There are structures that we have used . The idea of Panchsheel is there, the idea of neutrality is there," said Mr Gandhi urging India to tackle complexities through conversation.

Rahul Gandhi's comment was amplified by former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid who referred to Mr Jaishankar's long career as a foreign service official and said, "Surprised at External Affairs Minister ’s response to statement of Rahul Gandhi on European civil servants’ assessment of our incumbent diplomats. Surely national interest too was foremost in his time in the IFS?".


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Printable version | May 26, 2022 12:05:15 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/yes-indian-foreign-service-has-changed-it-is-called-defending-national-interest-jaishankars-retort-to-rahul-gandhi/article65442703.ece