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India needs to focus eastward: BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav

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In what may be seen as a deviation from the US-centric and pro-Western, diplomacy backed by BJP, or at least a disapproval of that, BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav said that in order to rise as a responsible and influential global power, India has to “completely re-orient its strategic mindset”. Madhav made his remarks on Wednesday during the third "Raisina Dialogue" of the Ministry of External Affairs Annual Conference in Delhi.

He said that “strategic shift is needed from westward to eastward thinking, from land-based thinking to ocean-centric thinking,” Madhav said. India has “realised” that its future lies in Asia, making a distinction from the “American way” of conducting foreign policy.

“The so-called ‘American Way’ will no longer be at work in the region. It is the play of the civilisations that will be at work. India has to make cultural and civilisational linkages an important part of its diplomacy,” said Mr. Madhav, seen as a key player and track-two negotiator in the NDA government’s foreign policy making structure.

Mr. Madhav outlined “twelve realisations” about the Indo-Pacific region . He was participating in a high-powered panel that included U.S. Deputy Assistant for National Security to President Donald Trump Nadia Schadlow, and Ministers from Australia and Singapore, Christopher Pyne and Maliki Osman respectively.

Mr. Madhav pointed out the “global power axis” that had now moved from the Pacific-Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific with almost half of the world’s population, half the container traffic, 40% of off-shore oil reserves, and most of the world’s defence spending coming from the Asian region.

The BJP leader also called for support for India’s “proactive role in the region”, and said that New Delhi would not be a “spectator” as China pushed its Belt and Road initiative forward. He in effect equated China's thrust abroad with involvement in infra-structure projects in Asia and Africa to the US's Marshall plan which envisaged a carving up of post-war Europe and was named after US Secretary of State George Marshall. Madhav advocated going for a a 'neo-Marshall Plan' and stressed that India has to come out of its reticence and passive diplomacy.

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