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External Affairs Minister in conversation with General HR McMaster in Battlegrounds session on 'India: Opportunities and Challenges for a Strategic Partnership' (26 May 2021)

May 27, 2021

General HR McMaster: Minister Jaishankar welcome to Battlegrounds. It is great to see you and I should tell you that the opportunity to work with you and our friend Ajit Doval was really one of the highlights of my time in Washington, you're looking well, and thanks for joining us on Battlegrounds.

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar: Thank you, you're looking well, too. And it's good to be here, I’m speaking to you from New York. And I’m here for two days. In fact, probably first time after COVID started, on my way up to this to Washington. So there's a lot of our relationship on my mind as I speak to you.

General HR McMaster: Well, I think if COVID-19 taught us anything, is that your challenges and problems that develop in one part of the world can only be dealt with in an exorbitant price once they reach our shores. And all of us here, I think, in America have been watching the second wave, this devastating wave in India, our hearts go out to our Indian friends. As you're having your discussions here, what do you see as the lessons from this struggle that we're still in the midst of and what should the world know about India's experience? What more can other countries do to help India and the world overcome and recover from COVID-19? This is a topic in one of your chapters in your excellent book, The India way. And I wonder if you just share your thoughts on how do we recover from this trauma of the past year?

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar:
Well, you know, HR, the way things are in India right now, we were hit by a very devastating second wave. And it's really the virulence of the strains of the virus this time were far more than the first wave, which is why you had a much higher case load as well as much greater fatalities, unfortunately. But look, at the end of the day, the big takeaway, which is your question, is, when you have a global challenge or global problem of this scale, the only way out is global cooperation, global mitigation in a way. So we've of course, been dealing with this challenge, the hospitalisation issues, the oxygen issues, the beds issues, and these are things which America knows well, because you went through it, as well, last year, including in the city, where I am in, New York. So when people look at the television screens, and see what's happening in some foreign country, I think there needs to be that realisation that this could easily happen to us. In many cases it has happened to us and the right response, therefore, to help each other out and I am glad to say we have seen a tremendous outpouring of international support and solidarity at this step. But one is the public health, the humanitarian, immediate medical responsibility. But I think there are larger issues for the world order for global politics in a way.

Today, clearly, we all need to think very much more about health security. I would argue that our sense of national security has actually widened as a consequence of the pandemic. We today, whether it has medicines, whether it's vaccines, last year it was masks and PPEs, in some countries, I would say even food, because the supply chains, when they were diverted, has made people anxious. The second is, I hear this term strategic autonomy, increasingly, this time from the west, in Europe, for example, which is that for essential things, we need to be self-sufficient, or we need to de-risk our exposure, that we shouldn't be over dependent on single geographies or one set of supply chain. So I think the post pandemic conversations in fact, even at the pandemic is going on the conversations are beginning to change towards more resilience, more reliability, how do you de- risk the world and to my mind, it really makes an argument for what I would call decentralised globalisation, that you have different centres of production, you have the assurance that if something, God forbid, goes wrong somewhere, the world will not then be so completely threatened as we have seen really in the last year, year and a half . There are of course in addition, digital lessons, but that's a whole subject in itself.

General HR McMaster:
You know, I found your view on globalisation and India's role in the world, really fascinating in the book, and you wrote something like as Indians prepare for greater contributions you should rely on your own traditions, to equip India for facing the tumultuous world. And, throughout the book, you explained how India's past especially the colonial experience, left an indelible imprint on how India's leaders view your nation's role in the world, and influences your approach toward the global economy, towards geostrategic competition, alliances, and partnerships. And just multilateralism broadly. And the one chapter, I think, on the Mahabharata, was very interesting as well, where you use one of the two ancient, or your Sanskrit epics of ancient India, as a metaphor really for India's approach to the world. So, I know it's tough to condense into it to a short answer in an interview, but could you explain this theme to our audience how does India's past shaped India's leader’s view of India's role in the world?

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar: Well, look, my central thesis is that India is a deeply pluralistic society, and has a very open, very positive view towards engaging the world. And that it must do so by really in a sense following back on its traditions and history and culture. So that people intuitively understand the challenges of today. And the reason I picked the epic is, you know, most Indians are very conversant with the epic. So it's like asking somebody in the Western world, if you give them analogies and when you speak of the Trojan horse, people know exactly, what you say a siren song, I mean they know what you're talking about. So, to a large extent, there are conversation changes in India, because there are changes going on in India. And it's important for people to understand that these changes can be a source of strength of better understanding of what is happening in the world. We are, as a deeply pluralistic society we are intuitively a very international society, this term, the world as a family is very deeply embedded in Indian thinking. And a lot of the challenges of today, the interplay of powers, their relationship, the interdependence, the constraints on power, for me an important question ethics, does ethics matter at all? And if so, what is the role of ethics, I mean, you would perhaps in today's world talk about branding and reputational and soft power, but at the end of the day, ethics is at the heart of that. So it's an attempt really, to use these analogies to both make Indians understand the world as well as the world understand that there are great traditions of statecraft and diplomacy. And you can say, multipolar politics in India, which is very, very appropriate for this day and age.

General HR McMaster I know, we have long conversations about really our approach to a free and open Indo Pacific. I remember, I think it was my first day or one of my first two days, maybe, as I unexpectedly arrived in Washington, that I had the opportunity to host you in my office, and we took out a map. And we talked really about how important it was to promote a free and open Indo Pacific as an alternative to a closed authoritarian model. And it was clear from that conversation that, that it was in US interests, that India have a more stronger voice and even stronger voice than it had in the past, because of our shared values, because of our shared principles. And I wonder if you might talk about your vision for a free and open Indo Pacific, and then maybe also talk about this crisis that we feel in democratic nations these days. There are doubts, I think, across the free world, about the effectiveness of democratic processes and institutions.

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar: Well, look, let me start with the last observation, I don't know if there are doubts in other parts of the world, I want to tell you very bluntly, there are no doubts in India. I mean we Indians are extremely confident about our democracy. We believe that that's really the political system, and the value system that suits us best, because as I said, it captures our fundamental diversity and the culture of really reasoning and coming into position, and an acceptance of what the rules of the day throughout. So, over the last 75 years, I think we've held multiple elections, we've had peaceful transition of power. There are, elections at different levels, one test of which is of course is that if you have changes in the party, in power at different levels, that itself is proof that democracy is working. And I don't think anybody in India would trade democracy for an alternative form of governance. So it has its challenges, it has its complexities, but I do want, because I read about this, mostly in, I would say, western political science or sometimes intellectual discussions. There could be some doubts there but I do want to make very clear, that's not the case with us. The larger issue of how does free and open Indo Pacific workout. First of all Indo Pacific, I think the period and I've dealt on this at some length in my book, the period when we treated the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean as two separate arenas. That's now behind us, the world's changed, the United States has changed, the number of players have changed. The seamlessness of these two oceans is evident, whether it's politics, whether it's economics, whether it's trade. So now the question is, once you accept that as an Indo Pacific and there are multiple interests at work, in determining the character of Indo Pacific it is very obvious that Indo Pacific is central, really, to the prospects of the world to the welfare of the world. It's important that those countries who believe that it should remain open that decisions about the Indo Pacific should be taken on the basis of rules or respect for international law, that we conduct each other in a way in which our collective interests are best served. I think that's the broad thinking. A lot of countries agree on this. Some of them like India and the US and Japan and Australia, have gone to the extent of actually creating a platform where we discuss issues of shared interest and cooperate on that. I think we do a lot of good for the world I mean to me free and open Indo Pacific is very much part of doing global good.

General HR McMaster: I think it is the quad format, which pre-existed the Trump administration and we worked on, I think very effectively, initially in the Trump administration, really, throughout the administration, I think was galvanised in large measure, wasn't it by the competition with China? Would you talk about really how you view the threat from really the Chinese Communist Party's policies? I think all of us have seen that there is a COVID-19 crisis it seems to have catalysed geostrategic competitions. And you saw quite closely there, as we saw People's Liberation Army soldiers attacking Indian soldiers on the line of actual control. But that's been matched by aggression as we all know, in the South China Sea, and the threats toward Taiwan and senkaku and various forms of cyber threats, the economic aggression toward Australia. So how do you see the trajectory of the competition with China? And what more can the free world to really to confront this aggression and to promote a free and open Indo Pacific rather than allow China to promote this authoritarian mercantilist model, and seems as if they're endeavouring to create servile relationships in the region.

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar: Well, look, I would obviously perhaps analyse that. I mean there are different ways of looking at it. One is a kind of Interstate analysis, if you would. And in the interstate analysis, if you have a sharp increase of power of one particular state, there are consequences in international relations, it's not new. So that's one way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it, of course, is that different countries have different challenges. Sometimes in international relations, it's very common for countries to cooperate in wherever their interests converge, it would not be for the first time nor the last time, that's another way of looking at it. Obviously, all of us have values and beliefs and we discussed some of them before. And the basic thing about values and beliefs is they are values and belief precisely because you think that's the right way to go. So, if you and I think that's the right way to go, it's natural that we would have a certain bonding in that regard. And when we look at the world, we would intuitively tend to find common ways of addressing a global challenge. I would quite honestly, prefer to see and I say this, as someone who has been practising diplomacy still to continue to do so at a political level. I think a lot of how we deal with the world because at the end of the day, there is something called global good, there is a global commons, and there is global politics. I am right now in the city where the United Nations has its headquarters. So and the United Nations as the centrepiece of the world order does represent a shared desire to promote global cooperation. So I think it's important for countries who think similarly on key issues of the day, who find that their interests converge, or to find ways of working together and I think that's really what's happened with the case of the quad I mean today we are discussing for example, vaccines or supply chains. During your time we were discussing maritime security and connectivity. There are a lot of other issues which have come up in between technology issues, or critical resources issues. This is what world politics is about, which is common ground and working relationships.

General HR McMaster: That we know of course, these problems don't respect country's borders and boundaries. And so it's important for us to work together on these cross cutting issues. And I think, of course, in connection with the Chinese Communist Party's aggression, we have to really defend against it and deter further aggression. But also we have to strengthen ourselves, we have to make sure that we are as strong as we can be, I think socially, politically, economically. And you mentioned the quad format, and, and the importance of working just broadly with likeminded countries, what would be top one your agenda, what more can we do together to build a better future and to strengthen ourselves so that we can ensure our competitive advantages remain our competitive advantages into the future?

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar: Look again, I don’t want to make this about country A or country B, however big the country maybe. I mean, to my mind, this is the big issue. The world's not going to be the same after the COVID whenever that after is. It's not going to be the same because we are, as I said, all of us, in different ways, are going to worry about our international exposure. Historically, you know, when times are good, you tend to see international relations as endless opportunities, sort of waiting to be exploited. When times are tough, you realise that those opportunities come mixed with a lot of risks, which take place and we are going through one of them which is the pandemic. So, as I said, what's the big takeaway, the big takeaway is we need a better world, the safer world, the less risky world, something which by the way, works for everybody. Because that too, is an issue, if we construct a world order, in the name of globalisation, but it works for some countries at the expense of others, it works for some people in some countries at the expense of others, we're going to have a frankly, dysfunctional international relations and dysfunctional societies. We've seen that in the last decade. So I would argue that in many ways international equity and fairness are not just noble principles, they are a practical common sense. It's like creating a broader stakeholder ship in the world, so that the totality of the world is better balanced. And then you apply that in different ways. I mean, we are going through a pandemic, today. Okay, the key question, the number one question on everybody's mind today is COVID. And the worry which people had, and I have heard this expressed by many countries, do we have accessible, affordable vaccines? Now, we can't have a world which is part vaccinated and part neglected, because that was not going to be safe. So how do we get through the global challenges in a global way? I think that's the big question and here the importance of countries willing to harmonise their national interest with global good. If countries, especially large countries, pursue their national interest, disregarding everything else, I think the world is going to have some big problems.

General HR McMaster: I think this competition that we found ourselves in doesn't have to foreclose on cooperation on the issues that you've mentioned. And in particular, I think we're facing these interconnected problems of climate and environment, which is tied to issues of energy security, and as you know, with just the vastness of India and the size of the population, it's also connected with food security and water security, and health security. So what is top on your agenda in connection with not just the quad format, but just multilateral cooperation across our free and open societies? How can we work on these problems together? What's India's perspective on this interconnected problem?

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar: Well, there is one part of what we have been brought up, you and I to think about as globalisation, that's investment, trade, finance. That's what we were told was at the heart of globalisation. I would argue that has not worked for the world as a whole. It works for some countries, as I said, and some people in some countries, I'm not against it, I'm just pointing out the limitations of the current model, if you would. But I want to draw your attention to the to my mind the real issues of globalisation, and what is really global, what cannot be stopped at the borders, a pandemic cannot be stopped. Climate change is not limited to one country. Terrorism, you had an experience, I mean if you have terrorism in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iraq it's not going to stop there. It's going to spread beyond box. So to my mind, the real global challenges are these examples, pandemics, climate change, terrorists, and how do we find better solutions, because if the problems are multinational or international, but we are conditioned to think national, you can see the challenge out there and I do think, in a way, the devastation of the pandemic is going to compel us to look at this very urgently, I would hope we pay the same kind of attention to climate change. And we get serious about addressing it. And when I say serious about addressing it, to my mind, people Keep talking about ambitions and commitments. I rarely hear the people who speak ambitions and commitments speak about resources. You are a military man, you don't draw up a plan and not have an understanding of what the resources are, the plan isn't worth anything. And the third issue is really terrorism. I mean, you've studied it, I, by the way was refreshing my mind on your book. And with your experience, especially in dealing with that, I mean you see, the challenge that we have if we overlook or excuse or justify terrorism, accept it as some kind of, shall I say, unorthodox statecraft, then I think we are setting ourselves up for really a huge challenge. And that's unfortunately been the history of the world for the last 40 years.

General HR McMaster: Yeah, I wonder if I could ask you more about how you see the jihadist terrorist threat in South Asia. Of course, I think this is disastrous policy, this complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, I believe that the very small numbers of troops that we had there were essentially an insurance policy, insurance policy against the Taliban again, exerting control over large portions of Afghanistan and declaring the reestablishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. And what's astounding about administer to me is how self-delusional we've been, I mean, we conjured up the enemy we would prefer in Afghanistan, Taliban that would share power that would be more benevolent, I guess, or less brutal, and, in Taliban that has a bold line between it, and other jihadist terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, but you're very familiar with the terrorist eco system that exists in Pakistan in particular and the danger that that poses India, as India has been on the receiving end of many terrorist attacks since 1947. Terrorism has been an arm of the Pakistan states foreign policy, essentially, since 1947. What do you see is the trajectory in connection with the strength and danger associated with these jihadist terrorist organisations? And what is India doing to protect itself from the threat from groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and others that are determined to commit mass murder as an element of their foreign policy and organisations they're sponsored by the Pakistani state?

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar: Well, look, this is at one level it's such a common sensation. At one level, because there is so much, I would say, I don't know, vested interest. I don't know what to call it. I mean the ability to delude ourselves as you said. Now, in many ways people hoped that 9/11 would provide defining clarity. In fact, very frankly, I was immediately after 9/11 for some years dealing with our US policy at that time. And I think there was a willing acceptance of a narrative from Pakistan, which everybody knew was not justified by the ground reality. And, in fact, to the extent that that country was even proclaimed as by one of your predecessors as a major non NATO ally. So, what happens is, we struggle. We struggle between the clarity of analysis. We know the truth. It's not like, the world is collectively stupid. Somewhere, I think we temper our analysis, and the clarity of our convictions with some kind of habits of the past, a degree of risk aversion, looking for easy answers and that's leads you down to a certain path. If things are, what they are today in Afghanistan, it didn't happen overnight. It happened because in the last 20 years, a series of decisions and conclusions and policy judgments were made, and they all took us in a certain direction. And once they take you in a direction, you say, well, I'm in it so I will have to just constraints my options, and that's the way it is. And, I sort of, in a sense, bring you back to one of your other books dealing with Vietnam, I mean, which is, every decision that you take locks you in, or at least constraints, your next set of decisions. So I think all of us struggle with it, we have what we have. Now, coming to me, as a practical person, the question is what's the best that we can do in this given situation. I do believe that, for all its limitations and mistakes, and there were many, the gains of the last 20 years in Afghanistan, or both of us have been there. An entire generation has grown up in Afghanistan with a much better life than they had in the 20 years before that. I think that's something worth protecting, defending, nurturing. It's important that we understand that Afghanistan too is a pluralistic society with a diversity of ethnicities viewpoints, faiths that, minorities are given their due, that women and children their rights are protected all that was built up by the entire world, by the United States most of all. I do think that they are of great value and they should not be likely sacrificed at the expediency of politics of the day.

General HR McMaster: I'm so glad you mentioned the gains in Afghanistan. It really is a transformed society based on what it was certainly under Taliban rule from 96 to 2001. And what was so lamentable, I think about this deal, the deal made under the Trump administration and then affirmed by the Biden administration is that it disadvantaged the Afghan government on the way out, you're forcing them to release 5000 of some of the most heinous people on earth, not demanding a ceasefire, and then the constant statements to President Ghani for him to do more for peace. Well, how about saying something to Hibatullah Akhundzada and the Taliban. So I would like to ask you minister, what work can be done in the international community do can India and others do to support the Afghan government and to deny the Taliban, the effort of turning the clock back to 1996. And I fear your return to the Civil War from 92 to 96. It could be devastating for the people of Afghanistan, but also for the region associated with a refugee crisis if that large scale violence returned. But what more can be done at this point, in your view?

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar: Well, I think, obviously, a lot needs to be done in talking to foreign ministers in the region, beyond the region, including in Europe. I hear their concerns, I think people do worry about what would happen if things go badly. In terms of what can be done, look, again at the end of the day, Afghanistan, like every other society has to be allowed its right to decide its future. But having said that, how do societies decide their future? There's got to be some process of legitimacy, right? I mean, you and I have elections. Okay, now, I ground to maybe not everybody has necessarily the same standards and practices and culture, whatever it is, but every society ultimately has some form of legitimacy, and some form of selection of authority and transition of authority and replacement of authority, that's what civil society is all about. The debate in a way today is, how can if even assuming that you have parties who have different interests, and shall I say, different beliefs, but it cannot be that somebody says, Well, I'm going to be the ruler, because it's self-evident, and it's me, there's got to be some process of arriving at that, and for the rest of the world, some process of assessing that and accepting that and underwriting. I believe the world has a lot of influence, which it can bring to play in a positive manner on what is happening in Afghanistan and again the current system may have its shortcomings. I mean, I think even they accept it. But the question is, how do you find an acceptable basis for who will govern Afghanistan. I mean, some kind of acceptable basis has to be formed, it should not just be handed over without addressing that question, to anybody.

General HR McMaster: Right. And obviously, it was it was an ugly election in Afghanistan, the last election, but it was an election, nonetheless. And I think you're absolutely right, if there has to be some form of political transition, it has to reflect the will of the Afghan people in some way. And of course, every country has different traditions and different ways of conducting elections. But from my sense, from my time in Afghanistan, that the vast majority, well over 90% of Afghans don't want Taliban to come back because they know what the hell that was till to live on Taliban Rule from 96 to 2001. Minister, I what if you'd share your thoughts on the trajectory of Pakistan, there has been, of course, a lot of press coverage about talks now with the Pakistanis. This is, of course been and it remains one of the most dangerous flashpoints, I think, in the world. Is really Pakistan's hostility toward India, the use of jihadist terrorist organisations against India as an arm of their foreign policy? And, of course, both your country and Pakistan being nuclear armed countries; it is one of the most dangerous flashpoints in the world. What do you see as the future of India Pakistan relations? And what's your prediction on these latest talks? And does this represent any kind of hope for a reduction in tension and hostility between your two countries?

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar: Look, what I can tell you, at this point of time, is that we had agreement some weeks ago, between our Director Generals of military operation that we would not fire across at each other across the line of control, which has seen a lot of that and we have seen a lot of that, mainly because there's been infiltration from their side. So the basis for not firing is very clear, because the reason for firing is infiltration. So if there is no infiltration, there's obviously no reason to fire. That's a good step. But I think there are obviously bigger issues. At the end of the day, the two neighbours have to find ways. It's not a question of do we live with each other, and you won't live with each other, if you're agnostic about how you live with each other. And you yourself pointed out that from 47, part of the problem has been the use of cross border terrorist. So there also has to be, perhaps a appreciation of what the cost has been to themselves, what it has done to their own society and how that has impacted them, I mean, they need to reflect on it because they are doing it to themselves. But I think it's important right now, for if there is thinking along the lines, that there needs to be a better relationship with India. On our side there has been clarity of thinking, and the clarity of thinking is that we cannot accept that risk, or we cannot accept that it is in any way legitimate as diplomacy or as any other aspect of state craft. So let us see where this progresses, obviously everybody hopes for the best.

General HR McMaster: And I hope that at some stage, the Pakistani people demand more. I think what is striking about the situation is how the Pakistani army overtime has created this problem, and how, of course, the Pakistani people have suffered at the hands of these terrorist organisations, in this very dangerous ecosystems, as well. Minister, I wanted to ask you about how you see political developments in your own country, I know you're not a partisan person; you've served with great distinction across many administrations. But there is concern these days in the midst of the pandemic about some of these Hindutva policies that could be undermining the secular nature of Indian democracy. And of course, this is what terrorists love, right, the terrorists love as they want to divide people and portray themselves as patrons and protectors of a beleaguered community or a community that believes that his beleaguered. How do you see internal Indian politics evolving, really, during this trauma of a pandemic and the recession associated with it? And are India's friends right to be concerned about some of these recent trends?

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar: First of all, let me let me clarify something. Yes, I served multiple administrations, as you would call it, over a number of years when I was a civil servant, when I was a professional diplomat. I am today elected member of parliament of a political party, the ruling political party, BJP. So do I have a political viewpoint and political interest? Of course I do. And I'm hopefully articulate and expressive about the interest that I represent. Now, in terms of what you said, I'd give you the straight political answer, and perhaps a slightly more nuanced societal answer. The political answer is that, in the past, there was a great reliance from, what's called vote bank politics, which is appealing to vote banks on the basis of their identity, or their beliefs, or whatever it is, and the fact that we have departed from it has been obviously, a difference. Now, India is a country of many faiths, and faiths everywhere in the world are very closely tied to the culture and identity. Now, in our society, we define secularism as equal respect for all faiths. Secularism doesn't mean that you are in denial of your own faith or anybody else's faith for that matter. I think what you are seeing in India in many ways is the, I would say, deepening of democracy, if you would call it a much broader representation in politics and in leadership positions and in civil society of people. Of people who are much more confident about their culture, about their language, about their beliefs. And I would be very open about it, I mean these are people who perhaps are less, shall I say, less from the English speaking world, are less connected to other global centres. So there is a difference. And I think sometimes that difference is judged politically, harshly. And it is often used to create a certain narrative. The larger societal explanation I will give you, which is at the end of the day, you been to India, okay. I mean, we are diverse, in every conceivable sense of the term, I mean, ethnicity, language, I mean, you name are parameter and it's a broad spectrum, sort of representation of that. But when it comes to any, I would say, policy or application of that, and I'll give you an example. I mean, we are going through a very stressful time right now, because of pandemic. We are actually giving free food last year for multiple months, right now, again, because of second wave we have resumed to as much as 800 million people. We put money into the bank accounts of 400 million people. This is what this government did. Now, if you are, feeding more than two and a half times the population of the United States, and you're funding more than the population in the United States, and you're doing this, I mean, pretty much anonymously and impersonally, in the sense, beyond the name and the detail the bank account of the person. We are not asking anything more, there's no criteria of discrimination. So I think when you come down to real governance judgments, you find that there is a difference between the political imagery that has been concocted, and actually the governance record out there. So I think you should take it for what it is, which is really politics at play, you can agree with it, you can disagree with it. But I would certainly see that very much as part of a political effort to depict our current government in a certain way. And obviously, I have a very profound difference with that.

General HR McMaster: Of course, you may be aware we have our own divisions here in the United States as well, politically, which I don't think ought to concern us in a democracy but as long as the vast majority of our people have confidence right in the voice that they have in government and have confidence in the democratic processes and institutions. Mr. Jaishankar, I remember from our first conversation, we went to work on this Indo Pacific strategy, you probably saw it declassified in the last few weeks, of the Trump administration. And in it, we were very explicit about the importance of the relationship with India, the world's largest democracy, a country with whom we share democratic principles. And, so in conclusion, what I want to ask you is what are your thoughts on the trajectory of US-India relations, what are the top on your priority list in terms of issues to work together on, we talked about these interconnected problems, we talked about how important it is, for the solutions that we come up with, to be acceptable to India, acceptable to developing economies across the world. What's the top of your agenda for the US India relationship going forward?

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar: I have a big agenda so that's going to take me a long period to share with you but I put it to you this way, I think our relationship has come a long way. It's today one of the major relationships of the world. And my own sense is that in Washington today, there is a real appreciation of the potential of this relationship, what it can do. And it's true of New Delhi as well. So the challenge for us of keeping in mind a lot of the issues that we've laid out brought out in our conversation, impact of pandemic, rise of different powers. The fact that today, we all recognise that it's not a question of one or two or three countries who will decide how the world is the world is truly much more multipolar. And if it is multipolar, then it's all the more important for countries to learn how to work with each other more effectively. And I see a big change in the American mind-set in that regard. So the United States has not only an enormous ability to reinvent itself, it also has a great ability to assess its situation and re strategize in a way. And I do think today that when it comes to the big issues of our day, maybe because we are pluralistic societies, because we are political democracies, because we are market economies that we have fundamental convergences. Convergences, which are societal convergences, which are geopolitical. And I think the challenge before us is how to translate those convergences into actionable policies. And that's really what I was very happy to work with you during your tenure as national security advisor in doing and I certainly look forward to doing that for the people in administration too.

General HR McMaster: Well, thank you, Mr. Jaishankar, what a pleasure to see you again on behalf of the Hoover Institution. Thank you for helping us learn more about Battlegrounds important to building a future of peace and prosperity for generations to come. Thank you so much.

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar:
Thank you. It's a great pleasure.



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