Former foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon speaks at a session on his book ‘Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy’ on Saturday, the second day of the Bhopal Literature and Art Festival (BLF) at Bharat Bhavan.
Former foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon speaks at a session on his book ‘Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy’ on Saturday, the second day of the Bhopal Literature and Art Festival (BLF) at Bharat Bhavan.
FP Photo

BHOPAL: Indian armed forces have struck across-the-border targets on numerous occasions since 1950, but the previous regimes have never publicised the action as is being done by the Modi-led government at present.

Shivshankar Menon, former National Security Adviser to the government and former foreign secretary made the above statement at a session on his book ‘Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy’ on Saturday, the second day of the Bhopal Literature and Art Festival (BLF) at Bharat Bhavan.

“You do such things only if you want to become a hero in the eyes of the people and win elections on the strength of military action,” he said.

Menon, who was in conversation with ex-IAS officer Pradeep Baijal and Amar Sinha said that once you make a song and dance about such strikes, you force the leadership on the other side of the border to either deny that any such thing happened or show their people that they are doing something to counter it. “That makes the exercise counter-productive,” he said.

Not war but poverty, illiteracy & jobs are prime concern of India & China: About Indo-China relations he said it was wrong to believe that a military confrontation between the two nations was inevitable. “Both the countries have better and more important things to do. We have to take care of our poor, illiterates and unemployed and they have to establish their primacy over the US. And that was the reason why Indo-China border has been peaceful for the last 40 years. The last time an Indian soldier was killed on the borders with China was in 1970s and that, too, was an accident,” he said.

Multi-polar world made diplomacy a difficult art: Menon said that the art of diplomacy has become much more difficult and tough with the world turning multi-polar. “Earlier, there was one Eastern Block and one Western Block and you had to either ally with one of them or keep equidistance from both,” he said. In today’s world, there cannot

be a single mantra like non-alignment that can govern foreign relations, he added.

Why do we need a permanent seat in Security Council?

To a question from the audience, Shivshankar Menon said that India does not need a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. “Will it make India more secure? Will it boost our GDP?” he asked. Let us not confuse status with outcomes, let us not join a beauty contest, he said.

US-Iran war not in our interest

Menon said that India’s interests would not be served if a war breaks out between Iran and the US. With seven million Indian living in the Gulf, with annual remittances to India from the Middle-East being more than seven billion dollars and with our dependence on oil supplies through the Persian Gulf, a war would have disastrous consequences for India, he said.

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