Dilution of Art. 370, CAA needed to clear out accumulated problems

India should take a lesson from China in “problem-solving”, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said. He defended the actions taken by the government, including dilution of Article 370 and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act as necessary to deal with India’s “accumulated” problems.

“The big learning out of China is that unless a society has the mindset to decisively address its current issues, it is not going to go up in the world. The more the Indian and Chinese systems deal with each other, a lot of Indians will pick that up,” he said, referring to how the Indian governments in the past had allowed issues like the Citizenship Act, Article 370, Ayodhya, the GST and “social and economic” issues to become an “accumulated legacy of problems”.

He was answering questions at the launch of a book on China, Pax Sinica: Implications for the Indian Dawn, authored by Samir Saran and Akhil Deo.

Mr. Jaishankar was asked whether the government’s categorisation of “dissenters, students and critics” as anti-national, and in particular the reference to students at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as “tukde-tukde gang”, was consistent with India’s democratic principles, especially when compared with China. “I can certainly tell you that when I was a student, we did not see any tukde-tukde gang,” Mr. Jaishankar, himself an alumnus of the JNU during the 1970s and the Emergency, said, using the pejorative term popularised by the ruling BJP to portray the protesting students and Opposition members as “anti-national”.

On Sunday, Mr. Jaishankar condemned the violence on the JNU campus, and said it was “against the tradition and culture” of the university.

In a direct swipe at the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and in particular former National Security Adviser and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, Mr. Jaishankar said the joint statements with Pakistan on terrorism signed at Sharm El Sheikh in 2011, as well as the anti-terror mechanism agreed to in Havana in 2006, were the outcome of a “lack of strategic clarity”. His words are believed to have been a riposte to Mr. Menon, who had said at a public hearing last week that the Modi government’s actions were leaving India “diplomatically isolated”.

To a question, Mr. Jaishankar denied that the government’s invitation to Pakistan investigators, including intelligence officials, to the Pathankot airforce base after the 2016 terror attack was a lapse. He said the Modi government had always been clear about who the victim was and who the perpetrator of terror was. “Even the Pakistanis accepted who was behind the Pathankot attack. The investigation happened so as to pressurise Pakistan into taking action. The government has always been clear who the victim is and who the perpetrator of terror is,” he said.