Fri, 01 Dec 2023

Washington, DC [US], September 29 (ANI): Weighing in on the state of minorities in India, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday dismissed concerns around discrimination on grounds of religion saying everything had become fairer.

Speaking at an event in Washington DC on Friday, Jaishankar said, "Today, since you brought up the issue of minorities in India, What is the test really of fair and good governance or of the balance of a society? It would be whether in terms of the amenities, the benefits, the access, the rights, do you discriminate or not and in every society in the world, at some point, there's been some discrimination on some basis. If you look at India today, it's a society today where there is a tremendous change taking place, the biggest change happening today in India is the creation of a social welfare system in a society that has less than USD 3,000 per capita income."On India increasingly asserting itself on the international fora, Jaishankar said, "Nobody has done that in the world before...Now, when you look at the benefits of that, you look at housing, you look at health, you look at food, you look at finance, you look at educational access, health access.""I defy you to show me discrimination. In fact, the more digital we have become, the more faceless the governance has become. Actually, it's become fairer," he added.

"But as I said this is a globalised world. There will be people, you will have people gripe about it and much of the griping is political. Let me be very frank with you because we have also had a culture of vote banks and there are sections who had in their own eyes a certain privilege...and it's a phenomenon," Jaishankar said during an interaction at the Hudson Institute in the US.

Describing India as an absorber of best practices during the event, Jaishankar hailed the country's success in digital payment saying, "If you are going shopping in India today, you can leave your wallet behind but you can't leave your phone behind, because most likely the person you're buying something from will not accept cash, and will want you to pull out your phone, look at the QR code, and make a cashless payment. Last year we clocked 90 billion cashless financial payments. Just for reference, the US was about 3 (billion), and China was 17.6 (billion). This year, we probably would exceed. I saw the June figures, it was 9 billion transactions in June alone. Street vendors today will have a QR code on their cart and say, just make your payment there."He also highlighted how India's advocacy of Yoga over the last decade has "improved" Global Health.

Further, the EAM underscored India's increasing footprints in the global economy and its increasing trade with the Middle East.

"We have to understand today that as India becomes a larger consumer, a bigger economy, our salience in the Middle East countries calculations, especially the Gulf economies, is that much higher. We are the largest trade partner of the UAE and we would be among probably the top three of the Saudis," Jaishankar said.

Earlier this week, the External Affairs Minister met his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly session in New York City. The two appreciated the rapid progress in India, UAE bilateral cooperation and valued regular exchange of perspectives on regional and global issues.

"Always a pleasure to meet FM @ABZayed of UAE, this time in New York. Appreciate the rapid progress in our bilateral cooperation. Value our regular exchange of perspectives on regional and global issues," EAM Jaishankar wrote on X.

UAE and India along with Saudi Arabia, the US and European Union (EU), had recently announced an ambitious infrastructure plan- the 'India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor'. This initiative launched at the G20 summit in New Delhi, seeks to reshape the trade route between the Gulf, Europe and South Asia, connecting them by rail and sea links. (ANI)

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