Washington: India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar was clear that he meant it: give an unequivocal message to both US officials and observers during his visit to the US this week that India would better be left alone to take its own foreign policy decisions, assess global developments and see by itself what is best for it.
At a press availability in Washington before winding up his trip, in which the India-US 2+2 meetings were also held, Jaishankar apparently wanted to tell the media and the senior Biden team members – both secretary of state Antony Blinken and defence secretary Lloyd Austin were present – that India would not like to be tutored on its foreign policy, especially in the wake of the recent stand it took on the issue of Russian invasion of Ukraine. India had refrained from endorsing the few resolutions in UN bodies condemning Russia for the attacks and had triggered worldwide reactions including attempts to win over India to a more critical stance on Russia
Jaishankar was trying to let stake-holders and observers make no mistake that India follows global developments closely, it is fully aware of its national security interests, and, lastly, it knows how to protect and pursue them.
In the light of India's position on the Russian act, and also its recently increased trade deals as reflected in buying Russian oil at cheaper rates, several US officials, Congressmen, policy experts and media personalities had in effect warned India of the risks in its policies and tried to persuade India to the line of condemning Moscow and reducing its military dependence on Russia.
Nothing else was Jaishankar's tone when he said, "Thank you for the advice and suggestions in your question. I prefer to do it my way and articulate it my way," Jaishankar said where apart from US officials, and Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was also present on Tuesday.
A reporter had asked him if condemning Russia for invading Ukraine would "best reflect India's foreign policy goals and international standing".
"This seems to be my day to get a lot of advice and suggestions from the press, so thank you for joining that," the minister said to another reporter at the availability.
"But look, we watch what's happening in the world, like any country does, and we draw our conclusions and make our assessments. And believe me, we have a decent sense of what is in our interest and know how to protect it and advance it. So I think part of what has changed is we have more options than we did before.", IANS quoted him as saying in response to a question whether India was concerned over the growing diplomatic, military and economic ties between China and Russia and whether India had any plans to reduce its economic and military reliance on Russia.