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EXCLUSIVE! S Jaishankar: 'India took diplomacy to people; shaped the agenda'

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, in an exclusive interview with Ambassador TP Sreenivsan on Asianet News Network, reflects on India's impactful G20 presidency, which not only reformed multilateralism but also transformed diplomacy.

India's G20 presidency not only reformed multilateralism but also diplomacy, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in an exclusive interview with Ambassador TP Sreenivsan on Asianet News Network. "You are taking diplomacy out of the meeting rooms, airports, hotels and convention centres. You are taking diplomacy really to the people. When you do 200-plus meetings in 60 cities of India, expose people to culture and traditions of that venue or region and generate a popular enthusiasm... In my entire life, I have never seen our country associate itself with foreign policy endeavour in a manner in which this has happened in the last one year," Jaishankar said.

"It has shown that we -- a country with strong convictions, great energy and propelled by leadership -- can shape the agenda. The agenda doesn't have to be decided by the West or the P5 or a narrow one or two countries. At the very start of this exercise, by being the voice of the Global South -- bringing 125 countries together -- straightaway we started shaping the agenda. It was very clear to people within the first month that India will take the G20 in its presidency to a very different direction -- and in the right direction, which it should have been on after the Covid-19 pandemic," he added.

Jaishankar highlighted the outcomes of the G20 presidency. He said that India discussed very fundamental issues for the people of the world. "We discussed growth, sustainability, practical things like where are the resources for education, for nutrition and for health, climate change... where is the money? At the end of the day, we need to have that conversation. We are today also holding people's feet to the fire and saying, 'look, you signed up for this and we are reminding you'. The power of words, ideas and projections is enormous if you know how to do it. We have succeeded in focusing not just the attention but the conscience of the world today on the Global South," he said.

"There are countries today where hunger and malnutrition rates have gone up and health and education have come down. There are countries whose social fabric is under stress," he added.

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