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India is a force to reckon with – top politician to RT

Lawmaker and ex-UN official Sashi Tharoor believes New Delhi will continue gaining geopolitical weight irrespective of the government in power 

Prominent Indian politician and diplomat Sashi Tharoor, who spent 30 years with the UN, believes India has emerged as a power to “reckon with” given its foreign policy trajectory and rapid economic growth after its 1991 liberalization. That trend will continue regardless of which government is in power, the lawmaker said in an exclusive interview with RT. 

Tharoor is currently seeking re-election as member of parliament from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, in southern India. He represents the Indian National Congress party (Congress), which is in opposition to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Speaking to RT, Tharoor suggested that India – already the third largest economy by purchasing power parity – is likely to become the world’s third biggest “in real dollar terms” in the next couple of years.

“It’s likely that countries on all sides of the geopolitical divide will take India seriously,” he said. “The fact that India is such an influential player on everything from cyberspace to outer space makes it potentially a significant contributor to global governance. And that, too, makes India a force to reckon with on the world stage.”

However, the politician acknowledged that the country faces challenges as it strives to maintain relationships “on both sides of every divide,” ranging from the Ukraine conflict to the Israel-Hamas war and the US-China standoff. 

Tharoor called India’s ties with Russia a “hugely important partnership” that is a “win-win” for both sides. “India likes to have partners rather than allies, and that’s again been the case going back to the days of the non-aligned movement under Pandit Nehru, our first prime minister,” he noted, adding that the Western countries have “shown some understanding” of India’s approach to foreign policy and the country being “historically allergic to fitting into any particular bloc or alliance pattern.” 

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“And it’s continued even in the very different government of Prime Minister Modi, in the sense that he has stayed friendly to Russia, even while being somewhat closer to the West than previous Indian governments may have been,” Tharoor said. He underscored that Modi has not “endorsed” Moscow’s point of view on the Ukraine conflict but “has shown understanding of it.”

When asked about the ongoing election in the nation of 1.4 billion, dubbed by commenters both in India and abroad as the world’s largest democratic exercise, Tharoor observed that the polling, which will continue until June 1 “came across otherwise as free and fair” – despite continuing debates around technologies used to register and count the votes. 

He remarked however, that the “idea of India” was being undermined by how some domestic issues were being treated in the campaign. “We have cherished for the longest time an idea of India that was of an inclusive nation, in which all religions, all castes, all classes, all languages […] lived in equality and harmony in our country. We have, unfortunately, a ruling party for the last ten years that does not share the idea of India,” he said, referring to BJP’s Hindu nationalist mandate. 

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Tharoor, who has authored several non-fiction books on India, said he is “deeply frustrated” to see his country “being reduced to a land that comes across as bigoted and intolerant, which in many ways is fundamentally un-Indian.”

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