India’s articulate and suave External Affairs Minister, Dr S Jaishankar, gave the analogy of cricket on March 3 to drive home the point on how Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains a good taskmaster and how he gives leverage to performing colleagues. But it goes without saying the PM would accept his bowlers taking wickets.
“Captain Modi does give his bowlers a certain amount of freedom,” the External Affairs Minister said during an interactive session with former UK PM Tony Blair and former cricket star Kevin Pietersen at the Raisina Dialogue, the flagship think-tank event organised by the ORF and the Ministry of External Affairs.
The Minister also said PM Modi “expects you to take that wicket, if he gives you a chance (to perform)”.
To a question on the functioning of the Government, Dr S Jaishankar said, “With Captain PM Modi, the net practice starts at 6 in the morning and goes on till fairly late”.
“I think in that sense, captain Modi does give his bowlers a certain amount of freedom. He expects you to take that wicket if he gives you a chance to do it. But I would also say some of it is watching the difficult decisions being taken. The decision to lockdown was a very tough decision; it has to be taken. If we now look back, what would have happened if we had not taken that decision?” he said.
Dr S Jaishankar also said, “If you have a particular bowler you have trust in, or you have seen perform, you would give them the latitude, you throw the ball to them at the right moment”.
The Foreign Minister also made a reference to the blockbuster film ‘RRR’ while describing the relations between India and the UK.
“The most popular film in India last year was ‘RRR’, it has to do with the British era. The fact is, when you have such complex history, there would be a downside to it, there would be suspicions, unresolved
problems,” he said.
“I would put it delicately, but you were the nice guys in the movie,” Jaishankar said in a lighter vein to both.
With Tony Blair present, when the discussions moved to India becoming a bigger economy than Britain and also dominating cricket, Dr S Jaishankar said, “I would call it rebalancing. It is the history which is switch-hitting, it’s hitting the other way. India today is in a very unusual position, once more decisively upwardly mobile, which a lot of other civilisational states aren’t in a position to do”.
Dr S Jaishankar said another tough call for the Modi Government was in 2021, when India sent vaccines to nearly 100 countries when there was a lot of questioning within the country.
“It was a tough call. Whether it is sports or any competitive situation, it is the willingness to take the difficult call, stand by those calls, and give the people the confidence that you will stand by them when they take risks. This is all about competition and leadership,” he explained.
In fact, over the months now, Dr S Jaishankar has emerged as a key voice in the Modi Government, articulating the points lucidly, either defending the Government or ventilating the BJP’s nationalistic
stances on many critical issues.
No doubt, Mike Pompeo, former US Secretary of State, has recently, in his book, described Dr Jaishankar as a “fierce defender of his boss and his country”.