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Will Jaishankar continue to craft an assertive foreign policy?

By Manash Pratim Bhuyan
June 09, 2024 20:32 IST
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When S Jaishankar became India's external affairs minister in May 2019, he was largely considered a political lightweight despite his undisputed mastery over foreign policy.

In the course of the last five years, he has not only managed to shed that perception but confidently established himself as someone who shaped an assertive foreign policy navigating various geo-political challenges.

The 69-year-old Jaishankar, whose illustrious diplomatic career spanned four decades, on Sunday took oath as a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet.


If he retains the external affairs ministry portfolio, then his immediate focus area would remain three-fold: the challenges arising out of China's bullying tactics along the frontier, protecting India's interest in view of the ongoing situation in West Asia and the conflict in Ukraine.

Known for his extraordinary sharpness and efficiency, the external affairs minister has earned kudos within India, especially from the youths, primarily for his decisive articulation of India's foreign policy priorities.

Some of his videos of public speeches and interviews have become very popular on various online platforms.

As the external affairs minister, Jaishankar, who is an ardent admirer of Modi, displayed with confidence his ability to clearly articulate India's positions on a range of complex issues on the global stage.

From blunting Western criticism of New Delhi's procurement of crude oil from Moscow in the wake of the war in Ukraine to crafting a firm policy approach to deal with an assertive China, Jaishankar emerged as one of the leading ministers with an impressive record of performance.

He has also been credited with managing to bring matters of foreign policy to domestic discourse, especially during India's presidency of the G20.

Currently, he is a member of the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat.

Jaishankar joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1977. He served as India's foreign secretary during the first tenure of the Modi government (2015-18). He had also been the ambassador to the United States (2013-15), China (2009-2013) and Czech Republic (2000-2004).

He was India's high commissioner to Singapore (2007-2009).

Jaishankar has served in other diplomatic assignments in Embassies in Moscow, Colombo, Budapest and Tokyo, as well as in the ministry of external affairs and the President's Secretariat.

He was also the president of the Global Corporate Affairs at Tata Sons Private Ltd after he retired as the foreign secretary.

He is a graduate of St Stephen's College at the University of Delhi and has done his Masters in Political Science and an M. Phil and PhD in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.

He is a recipient of the Padma Shri in 2019 and has written a widely acclaimed best-selling book The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World.

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Manash Pratim Bhuyan in New Delhi
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