Stating that economic growth is impossible without stability, Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar on Saturday said that there is a need to work in order to build the nation keeping in mind the next 100 years.
The minister said that the price of instability is bankruptcy, which was witnessed in India in 1968, when India had to keep gold as collateral.
He was speaking in Mapusa at the Saraswat Vidyalaya’s Society on the topic ‘Foreign Policy in 21st Century India’. Talking about foreign policy, he said that people should believe that the world is a family of equals as said by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Talking about India’s foreign policy, the minister said that the world is responding to Modi, and very few like him are in demand for foreign visits, which is due to his message and approach towards countries.
Akbar said creating friendships across borders is the key to foreign policy and that India’s objective is to not be aggressive towards any nation. “The only way forward is peace, understanding and diplomacy. We show the world
we have the defence force; we have a defence force and not an offence force. We also tell the world that not one inch of our land shall ever be under threat and that no Indian shall be hit or die without accountability. We will not compromise, buckle and look the other way like it was in the past,” he said emphasising that the way to peace lies in strength.
He said the coming year will see a growth of 8 per cent and increased jobs in the manufacturing sector. However, he said that the country cannot take charge of the 21st century without eliminating poverty that lies in the country. “The 20th century for me began in 1918-1919 which is when the World War ended, marking the end of the age of empires,” he said explaining how dynasties and empires shape socio-politics and geo-politics of a nation.
The future of India lies in the hands of women, Akbar said, throwing light on the history of India when people were enslaved by colonisation and how women were oppressed. Stating that women empowerment is the key, he highlighted how women have outnumbered men to avail the government’s Mudra micro-finance scheme.
He said that India has played a major role in tackling the challenges of the 21st century. “A great political event that shook the political consciences of people was 9/11,” he said. The second issue, he said, was how Pakistan decided to solve the issue of Kashmir ten weeks after partition of the countries using war. “Couldn’t they think of anything else besides war? The structure of the conflict that began in October 1947 continues till date, while the narrative has changed. Today it is called Jihad,” he said highlighting the need to do away with war.
Akbar, however, said that the greatest challenge was manifested in 2008 when terrorism was televised and thus became part of the consciousness of the whole country. “Terrorism is not an act of meaningless violence to just create chaos, it is not just random barbarism. There are serious political objectives,” he said, adding that the terrorists use faith as the basis for violence and don’t believe in the idea of a nation state, but faith-based spaces. He said for them (terrorists) the greatest danger lies in country like ours which grants equality to every citizen irrespective of faith, not just in law but in social behaviour too.
“Terrorism is a menace to stability, to our law and order and a menace to plurality. They seek to break the harmony that exists between people of all faiths by creating wars of suspicion and hate,” he said adding that Indians believe in multi-faith equality not because of the rights laid down by our Constitution, but because this multi-faith equality was the basis on which the Constitution was formed. He said the other challenges are poverty, gender inequality, case inequity and others which need to be tackled.
He said he believes that India’s major contribution to the world is in creating a century of sovereignty in the world. “With India becoming free in 1947, European colonisation around the world collapsed. European colonisation was born in India, European colonisation died in India and this was a big contribution that India made to the 20th century – a century of sovereignty in the name of people,” he said.
He termed the European colononisation far worse than dynasties due to the misery and oppression people were put through in Asia and Africa. However, it also gave rise to nation states in various parts of colonised countries, he said.