A unified Indian subcontinent was not only in India’s interest but also crucial for realising its long-term vision, former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said on Wednesday.
Speaking on the occasion of release of his book “How India Sees the World” by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Saran said Indian diplomacy needed to find ways to transcend the fragmentation in the subcontinent.
“As Dr Manmohan Singh once said ‘I do not have the mandate to change borders but I do have the mandate to try and make these borders irrelevant’ so that there can be free flow of goods, people, and ideas across these borders,” Saran said.
“I think this is the kind of vision we should be working towards because India’s interests and pursuit of its larger vision is only possible if we have a subcontinent that is in some sense unified,” he added.
Saran said that be it the Pakistan issue or India’s relations with other neighbours, “there is no alternative but to try and find ways in which we are able to transcend this fragmentation”.
Touching on India’s relations with China, Saran said India has been “remarkably successful” in dealing with a “very complex China”.
“It is not only in terms of trying to contain China or in terms of trying to manage China through engagement but also confronting it whenever our interests are threatened,” the former diplomat said.
“So it’s been a very careful mix of working on convergences which exist between our two countries — and there are many — and also at the same time trying to deal with the threat element in the relationship,” he observed.
Saran said that a very important aspect of India-China relations has been the very regular summit-level meetings between the leaders of the two countries.
“This has over a period imparted a certain degree of balance and stability to the bilateral relations,” he said.
Apart from Manmohan Singh, former Vice President Hamid Ansari, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, former National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, and a host of serving and former diplomats were present at the event.