New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar exhorted the world to correct the “historical injustice” of not recognising India’s contribution during World War II.
Jaishankar also emphasised that the “world has changed”, and thus, there is a need for “coming to terms with contemporary reality”.
The minister was speaking at a virtual trilateral Russia-India-China (RIC) meeting, also featuring his counterparts Sergey Lavrov and Wang Yi.
“The victory over Nazism and fascism was achieved through sacrifices across many theatres by many countries. India made a significant contribution, with 2.3 million of its citizens under arms and 14 million more participating in war production. Indian blood was shed at the battlefields of the world, from Tobruk, El Alamein and Montecassino, to Singapore, Kohima and Borneo,” Jaishankar said in his opening remarks.
The diplomat-turned-minister added India also played a crucial role in keeping key supply chains open during that critical period for Russia as well as China, highlighting that Indian personnel were conferred the ‘Order of the Red Star’, and how Dr Dwarkanath Kotnis became a legend in China for saving the lives of several soldiers during the Sino-Japanese War in 1938.
“So tomorrow, when our military contingent marches through the Red Square, it would be an affirmation of the difference that we made,” Jaishankar added, referring to India’s tri-service contingent that will participate in Russia’s Victory Day Parade to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Russian victory in Moscow’s Red Square. The parade was postponed from 9 May due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When the victors met to fashion the ensuing global order, the political circumstances of that era did not give India due recognition. This historical injustice has stood uncorrected for the last 75 years, even as the world has changed. Therefore, on this momentous occasion, it is important for the world to realise both the contribution that India made and the need to rectify the past,” Jaishankar stressed.
Jaishankar also urged the United Nations to stop being in “denial of the fact” that its decision-making has to reflect the needs and realities of all its 193 members.
China is the only permanent UN Security Council member that has never supported India’s bid for a permanent seat.
“Beyond history, international affairs must also come to terms with contemporary reality … We, the RIC countries, have been active participants in shaping the global agenda. It is India’s hope that we will also now converge on the value of reformed multilateralism,” he said.
The RIC meeting is taking place at a time when tensions between India and China have reached their peak due to a stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since early May, which resulted in a violent face-off on 15 June, killing 20 Indian soldiers and injuring many.
Jaishankar hinted at Beijing during his speech: “…Challenge today is not just one of concepts and norms, but equally of their practice. The leading voices of the world must be exemplars in every way. Respecting international law, recognising the legitimate interests of partners, supporting multilateralism and promoting common good are the only way of building a durable world order.”
According to sources, while Russia has said it will not allow bilateral tensions between India and China to come into the RIC meeting, the matter is bound to come up, especially since Moscow is seeking stability of ties between the three countries to collectively counter the US.
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said in his speech that some countries resorted to “destructive” methods that were “aimed at derailing the existing global security architecture which was formed after World War II”, and said that is going to be “counterproductive”.
He also lauded India’s efforts in becoming a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from January 2021.
“India and China have everything they need to solve their own problems … I do not think India and China need help when it comes to important issues,” Lavrov said, refuting reports of Russia’s attempts to mediate between New Delhi and Beijing on the ongoing LAC stand-off.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang, who is also a State Councillor, said Russia and India should focus on maintaining the international system under the aegis of the UN and uphold multilateralism to strengthen and improve global governance.
The three countries should maintain “openness, unity, trust and cooperation”, he said, adding that they should build a common consensus that will prove to be a cohesive force in front of the world.
Rajnath’s Moscow visit
India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is on a three-day visit to Moscow for the Victory Day Parade, and apart from the India-China stand-off, sources said he is expected to expedite the delivery of the S-400 air defence missile system, which is facing delays due to the pandemic.
Singh is scheduled to meet Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, and discuss other purchases such as fighter planes and submarines for the Indian Navy, and tanks for the Army.