Ex-Diplomat – The New Indian Express
Express press service
BENGALURU: Social cohesion and coexistence are the only means by which India, a multicultural, multi-faith and multi-linguistic society, can develop as a nation. Responding to international backlash and protests in the country over remarks on Prophet Mohammed by former BJP spokesman Nupur Sharma and Delhi media chief Naveen Jindal, former deputy national security adviser Pankaj Saran told the New Indian Express that more than the reactions of Islamic countries against the remarks, which were “episodic”, the broader and long-term issue is of “social cohesion in India and is of concern”.
“There are over 20 million Muslims in the country. They are Indian citizens, whatever they say. Their future is in the countryside. No outside country can solve their problems. It is the duty of the central government and the states to reach out to Muslims and their enlightened leaders and ensure that they are the equal beneficiaries of education, vocational training, employment and other government policies. It is also the responsibility of community leaders to ensure that Muslims have greater public participation and do not play the victim card,” the former diplomat said.
He added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said repeatedly and on multiple platforms that he represents more than 1.35 billion Indians.
“The country must meet the expectations of young people”
“State governments cannot wash their hands of their responsibilities and duties to their people. Many issues are local in nature and providing education, job training, food, shelter and health care to its people is the responsibility of states,” he added. On the hijab line, which started in Karnataka, Saran said the Center is looking at IFP’s role, funding and external links.
“The PFI has no positive agenda and is fishing in troubled waters,” he said. “Radicalization is a problem. Deradicalization and capacity building are the two important objectives of our national security policy. He added that India being a democracy, people have the right to freedom of expression. “People have the right to free speech as long as they don’t violate the Constitution and the fundamental rights of other citizens.
Today, there is greater articulation of political opinion on both sides of the divide. The role of media, visual and social, is vital and often the source of the problem. Advanced democracies like the United States and European countries face the same problem. We are not as mature as these countries and need more awareness. In a country the size of India, we have to create our own models to protect and promote our security. Look at our economic growth and the opportunities that have grown through reforms,” he said.
“Most importantly, the country must meet the expectations and aspirations of young India. The challenge of finding jobs and qualifying them are at the heart of the problems,” he added. On the Ukraine conflict, Saran, who was India’s former diplomat to Russia, said it was a “classic case of failed diplomacy. Both parties should be blamed. The issue cannot be resolved without a diplomatic settlement.
The world is looking for leadership. The UN has failed to resolve this problem, which is leading to a major global food and energy crisis. This is a historic opportunity for the United States to broker a settlement between Moscow and Kyiv, but it does not appear that the Biden administration is ready to play that role.” Saran said India’s position on the Ukraine conflict was “excellent”.
No strategy expert or opposition leader has criticized the government’s handling of the geopolitics of the Ukrainian conflict. The government will have to deal with the economic fallout from the conflict, and we have told the West that buying fuel from Russia trumps any other geopolitical concerns, Saran said.
Regarding the targeted assassinations in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and threats against India by Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), he said it was a “proxy of the Pakistani ISI. Pakistan is in a critical phase and is yet another example of a failed alliance with China after Sri Lanka, which is facing economic collapse. The belief that China offers solutions to benevolent parties will peel off.”