Exclusive | PM’s intervention had impact on counterparts: S Jaishankar on Delhi Declaration

by The Technical Blogs


Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on Monday said the New Delhi Declaration could be adopted unanimously at the recently concluded G20 Summit because Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention had an impact on his counterparts. In an exclusive interview with India Today’s News Director Rahul Kanwal, the Union minister added that PM Modi himself came in whenever it was required to bring consensus among the leaders.

Speaking on the issues that needed to be ironed out before the declaration was adopted and how PM Modi helped the effort, Jaishankar said, “I think the declaration also happened because his (PM Modi’s) stature had gone up. So when he brought up the issue with some of his counterparts, and considering the fact that it was Prime Minister Modi himself bringing up the issue, I think it definitely had an impact on his counterparts.”

The Union minister said PM Modi’s trip to Indonesia to attend the ASEAN Summit which he took on the eve of the G20 Summit also had an impact on the leaders of the G20 as it signalled his willingness to put in effort for the events hosted by other countries.

“The Prime Minister on the eve of the G20 Summit made a half-a-day trip to Indonesia. He went, flew overnight, reached Indonesia, spent a few hours, and then came back. The impact of that was that the others got the message that he was a prime minister willing to put himself out for the success of somebody else’s event.

It generates a sense at the leadership level that if he’s willing to do it for others, then we (other leaders) also need to reciprocate and we need to back him up,” Jaishankar told India Today.


Answering a question about the lack of consensus that was observed at the end of the ministerial meetings which were held before the G20 Summit, Jaishankar said, “The way we handled it was to tell the leaders that wherever we get agreement, let’s lock that in. We didn’t want a situation where, let’s say, out of 30 paras, you didn’t agree on two, so you lost all 30.

Our approach was therefore to lock in whatever we could get unanimity in. And where you can’t, keep trying, meeting after meeting, to narrow that divide. In retrospect, it was a sensible strategy because what it did was, in the last around two weeks before the summit, it left us with a relatively limited number of issues.”

Speaking over the contentions raised by Russia and China over the language used to refer to the Ukraine war, the Foreign Minister said it was not a question of “finding the right words and finishing it with good language”. He said efforts to resolve the differences were made both from his side and from India’s G20 Sherpa, Amitabh Kant, and his team.

“At certain points of play where required, the Prime Minister himself came in,” said Jaishankar.


The Foreign Minister said the adoption of the New Delhi Declaration after a clear consensus was a test of India’s ability to shape the global agenda. He said India was able to highlight the pressing issues and got the G20 forum to focus on the Global South.

“In the past, we’ve always done any gathering in a kind of ‘sarkari‘ bureaucratic way. So we asked, could we do it differently? Can we take it out to the rest of the country? Can we link it to what is happening in society? Can we make people feel that this is an event or a responsibility in which they too have some connection? I think in terms of the agenda, the bridge building and the manner in which it was done, each one of them was a significant step forward for us,” Jaishankar told India Today.

He added that he was satisfied with India’s foreign policy and India’s diplomacy post the G20 Summit.


On asked about the criticism that the Delhi Declaration has been facing over the “toning down” of the language used on the Russia-Ukraine war, S Jaishankar said, “I don’t think it’s a cop out. I think the people who are putting it that way are not really understanding what is happening in the world.”

The Union Minister said things have changed since the 2022 G20 Summit in Bali and the declaration that was adopted at the time. He said if the Delhi Declaration was a mere “cut and paste” of the one adopted in Bali, it would be “lazy, mechanical, and ignore what happened since then”.

“The core concept of our agenda of the G20 this time was really about the Global South. The Ukraine conflict directly impacted the Global South. That didn’t come through in Bali. A year after that, given the food shortages, inflation, energy shortages, the impact it has had on economies across the developing world, don’t you think, in fairness, we needed to reflect that in the declaration?

So the idea that we should just do a cut-and-paste and stick with exactly what was done in Bali would have been an enormous disservice,” said S Jaishankar.

He also added that the Delhi Declaration needed to reflect the effort made by multiple countries to resolve the Ukraine conflict. “So we had to find a different set of words and different formulations. Which is why I said, ‘Bali was Bali, Delhi is Delhi’.”


The Foreign Minister said India advocated for the inclusion of the African Union in the G20 group for a variety of reasons, one of which is the “solidarity of the developing and decolonized countries”. Another reason is PM Modi’s conviction of the philosophy of “No one is left behind”, said Jaishankar.

“If you look at everything that we’ve done over the last 10 years, a large part of it is ensuring…the whole idea of an inclusive India where people get their fair share of support. Now, if that’s your fundamental conviction, it cannot stop at borders.

It applies equally in international affairs, and from the very beginning, he’s (PM Modi) always had that view that we need to go the extra mile where Africa is concerned,” he added.

PM Modi wrote to the other 19 leaders of the G20 forum a few months ago to include the AU, said Jaishankar. “I give him that credit that, in a way, he forced the issue and put it on the table. The nature of the issue was that there was really nobody who would have opposed it, but it’s just that nobody made an effort to do it. Maybe Mr Modi’s sort of sense of social justice is much stronger,” he added.

On the question of whether the forum would now be called “G21”, Jaishankar said, “G20 has also become a brand, so I would say we will discover what people would call it now that the African Union has joined as a permanent member. This G20 did not address that question.”


Speaking on the comparison being made between the newly launched India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor to China’s expansive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Jaishankar said, “I really don’t think everything needs to be compared with China. It does its thing and they’re welcome to do it, but I think I, as India, don’t have to do things because China is doing something. I, as India, have my interests, my rights, my ambitions, my opportunities and my friendships.”

He said the focus of the economic corridor is on doing “something which the world of commerce has done for 2,000 years, which is to take two very important parts of the global economy – India and Europe” to further trade ties.

Edited By:

chingkheinganbi mayengbam

Published On:

Sep 11, 2023


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