S Jaishankar, the minister of external affairs for India, said that his country is no longer “lumbering around at a relatively slow pace” as he wrapped off a three-day trip to South Africa for a BRICS summit.
He discussed the unique connection between India and South Africa, which will mark 30 years of fresh diplomatic ties, during a banquet held in his honor by the local diaspora and expatriate communities in Cape Town on Saturday night.
For the BRICS bloc summit, which was hosted by South Africa, the minister was in the city together with his colleagues from Brazil, Russia, and China.
“This is not the same India that was moving very slowly before. When it comes to digital, I can confidently say that I see Indian practices (and) efficiencies that I do not observe even when I go to Europe and North America, according to Jaishankar.
“This scale of change which is taking place in India, when we speak about the pace of transformation of these nine years, is really something that I think the Indian community abroad, the non-residents abroad, and I would even say the friends and well-wishers of India abroad need to understand is something very powerful and very big that is going on,” he said.
Jaishankar emphasized that the Modi administration’s efforts to increase the self-reliance of the Indian people throughout its nine years in power via policy changes and activities in many sectors weren’t a protectionist attempt.
“A nation that is self-sufficient does not close itself off to the outside world in a protectionist manner. India today is not only producing more for itself, but also for the rest of the globe and with it.
“We are actively seeking collaborations right now. The minister said that the rising volume of foreign direct investments we have garnered is one measure of success.
According to him, India received the most foreign direct investment worldwide in 2017 ($86 billion).
“The overall picture is one of great confidence at home — one of very significant achievements; but also, one where there is a great deal of ambition,” he remarked. Regarding India’s goal for the next 25 years, Jaishankar said that it was crucial to demonstrate to the current generation that they are capable of doing far larger feats on a much broader scale.
He said that it was also the emergence of a civilization state that would have an influence and serve as an example for people all across the globe. Jaishankar also discussed the unique bond between South Africa and India, which would soon mark 30 years of diplomatic ties after an almost four-decade hiatus brought on by apartheid.
The significance of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi “took very deep root” as he noted, “as we became independent and continued to support South Africa in its struggle against apartheid.”
He continued, saying the relationships in these three decades “have flowered in every conceivable sense.” “There was a particular association that we had with Nelson Mandela as an inspirational figure and as the leader of a people who were struggling to control their own future and to establish their own identity,” he said.
He said that current commerce between the two nations is at 18 billion USD.
The minister’s speech also emphasized the two nations’ collaboration in a wide range of areas, including cricket, the return of cheetahs to India, Covid vaccinations, and international challenges at numerous fora.
“This country very naturally comes to mind when I look around the world at close to about 200 countries and ask who are our closest friends, and that is something that is reflected in a lot of what we see.” When asked about the future of the relationship between South Africa and India, which will mark 30 years in November, Jaishankar stated that India looked to a world with more mobility and knowledge exchange.
In response to a statement about how difficult it is to get visas for trips to South Africa, Jaishankar said that India has an efficient and effective e-visa system for South African applicants.
“However, we have not yet seen the South African arrangement’s equivalent. I am aware, for instance, of the difficulties associated with family travel or internal transfers. I am well aware of that. I have brought it up with my colleague, and I’m hoping that the Joint Committee, which oversees government-to-government engagement, will look at it in the next months,” the minister added.