India-US ties will go to moon like Chandrayaan, maybe beyond: Jaishankar
India and the US used to deal with each other; now they work with each other, EAM tells largest-ever gathering of Indian-Americans at India House in Washington
India-US ties are at an all-time high and, like the Chandrayaan, these bilateral ties will go to the moon and maybe beyond, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said in Washington.
Jaishankar made the remarks while addressing several hundred Indian-Americans who had gathered at the India House from various parts of the US to attend the ‘Celebrating Colours of Friendship’ event organised by the Embassy of India on Saturday (September 30).
“There is one clear message today that our relationship is at an all-time high. But as they say in America, you ain’t seen anything yet. So, we are going to take this relationship to a different level, to a different place,” he said at the largest-ever gathering of Indian-Americans at the India House.
“In this changing world, I would say today that India and the US have moved to a position where we see each other as very desirable, optimal and comfortable partners with whom it’s a natural instinct today to pick up the phone or if you meet someone and have a natural conversation,” he said.
On US support to G20 summit
Jaishankar said the success of the G20 could not have happened without the support of the US. “As the host, when things go well, the host always gets the credit. It’s reasonable. But, the G20 could not have come together if all the members of the G20 did not work for its success,” he added.
“The contribution, the support and the understanding that we got from the US to make a successful G20, I think that is something I would certainly like to recognise in public in Washington DC,” Jaishankar said amid applause from Indian-Americans.
“So, it may have been our success in a literal way, but I think it was the G20 (nations’) success. To me, it was also a success of the India-US partnership…Please keep giving this partnership the support it needs, the support it deserves, and the support it expects. And I can promise you that this relationship, like the Chandrayaan, will go to the moon, maybe even beyond,” he said.
“Alphabet ‘I’ is good for US”
Jaishankar said the human bond between the two countries makes the bilateral relationship unique. “Countries do business with each other. Countries do politics with each other. They have military ties, they do exercises, and they have cultural exchanges. But when two countries have that deep human bonding, that’s a completely different ballgame. That is today the defining characteristic of our relationship,” he said.
He said people remember Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to the US in 1985, Manmohan Singh’s visit in 2005 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s several visits. “But I have to say that this one (PM Modi’s recent state visit) was different, it was different in optics, and if you ask me what has changed, I would say India and the US earlier used to deal with each other and now they work with each other,” he said.
He recalled the recent collaborative endeavours between the two countries, all starting with the letter ‘I.’ These initiatives include the India-Middle East Economic Corridor, I2U2 (India, Israel, the US, the UAE), Indo-Pacific cooperation, and the initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET).
“Alphabet ‘I’ is very good for the US, certainly,” Jaishankar added.
He said the contribution of the diaspora in building the bilateral relationship is something fantastic.
“There are no words that can capture it. It is on that foundation that today we are looking ahead for...a new hope on the horizon...So, I think when we look at the horizon, we see fantastic possibilities out there, and it’s the community which is going to deliver on that,” Jaishankar said.
A new India
He recalled that when then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru came to the US in 1949, there were 3,000 Indian Americans; when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came in 1966, there were 30,000 Indian Americans; when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi came in 1985, there were 3,00,000 Indian Americans; when Prime Minister Modi came, there were more than 3 million Indian Americans and it’s grown to almost 5 million.
“If there is something unique about our relationship, it is the human bond that we have. The role, responsibilities, and commitment of the diaspora to the India-US relationship is commendable,” he added.
The minister said the India of today is different from what it was earlier. “I want to share with you that this is truly a different India for which I speak. It is an India, which as you heard from others, is capable of the Chandrayaan-3 mission,” he said.
“It is an India which was able to pull off the most spectacular G20 and prove those who said that we will not be able to get 20, I don’t want to say quarrelling nations but 20 countries with different positions, to come to the table together,” he said.
This is an India, which showed during the COVID pandemic that it could not only look after its people but could extend its hand to more than a hundred countries across the world, he said.
“I want to say in many ways, if there is a spring in our step, a confidence in our voice, a sort of squaring of our shoulders, there are very good reasons for it,” he said. “Because it is built today on 10 years of hard work...There are domains where our capacities have doubled or tripled,” he said.
“The new India is an India of Chandraayan, it’s an India of CoWIN, it’s an India of 5G. This is really what we are capable of, and it is this India today that the United States also sees. It is this India with which the United States actually has an appetite for working, much more closely,” said Jaishankar.
Remembering Mahatma Gandhi ahead of his birth anniversary, Jaishankar said calling him an “extraordinary man” would be the “understatement” of this century.
“He said so many things so tellingly. But at the end of the day, if we ask ourselves what was the message, the message at the end of the day was about doing the right thing, about doing the decent thing, and about leaving no one behind,” he said.
“Gandhi ji’s message is very complicated, but its essence is very, very simple,” Jaishankar said.
(With agency inputs)