India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr S Jaishankar, has raised crucial questions about the predominant Western-centric perspective in the study of international relations and diplomacy. Expressing concerns about the widespread adoption of Western constructs in understanding global dynamics, Dr Jaishankar emphasised the need for a more inclusive approach that acknowledges the diversity of cultures on our planet.
Speaking at an event, Dr Jaishankar highlighted the inherent injustice in analysing the world through a singular Western lens, especially in a global context with a rich tapestry of cultures. He argued that such a myopic view not only does a disservice to other cultures but also fails to recognise the unique perspectives and contributions they bring to the global stage.
#WATCH | Delhi: EAM Dr S Jaishankar says, "Why is it that the students of international relations and diplomacy, study the world through completely Western constructs… On a planet which has so many cultures, to view all cultures through the lens of one culture is an injustice… pic.twitter.com/9PoaDBpkPi
— ANI (@ANI) December 4, 2023
The minister pointed out a prevailing monocultural bias in international relations, stating that there is a common belief that many societies lack traditions of statecraft. Dr. Jaishankar passionately challenged this notion, particularly in the context of India’s ancient civilization, which boasts a history spanning 5000 years. He questioned how one could overlook the existence of sophisticated statecraft traditions in a society with such a rich and longstanding history.
Dr Jaishankar asserted that a lack of awareness and knowledge often leads to sweeping and generalised theories, emphasising the importance of correcting these misconceptions. By doing so, he believes that the field of international relations can evolve into a more comprehensive discipline that takes into account the diverse cultural and historical contexts of nations around the globe.
The minister underscored the need for a paradigm shift in the way international relations are studied, urging scholars to move beyond Western-centric frameworks. He called for a more inclusive and nuanced approach that considers the unique historical trajectories of different cultures and societies. Dr Jaishankar emphasised the importance of acknowledging the rich tapestry of human experience and avoiding the imposition of a singular worldview.
Furthermore, he pointed out that the challenges in understanding international relations go beyond academic discourse and have practical implications. The minister highlighted that a distorted view of global dynamics could lead to misguided policies and actions. Therefore, he stressed the urgency of correcting these imbalances to foster a more accurate and insightful understanding of international relations.
Dr Jaishankar’s remarks resonate with a growing call for diversity and representation in academic and intellectual spaces. As countries worldwide seek to strengthen their diplomatic ties and navigate complex geopolitical landscapes, a more inclusive approach to the study of international relations becomes imperative.
The minister’s address has sparked discussions on the need for a comprehensive overhaul of educational curricula in the field of international relations. Scholars and policymakers are contemplating ways to integrate a broader range of perspectives and traditions, fostering a more inclusive and accurate understanding of global affairs.
Dr S. Jaishankar’s critique of the Western-centric approach to the study of international relations serves as a catalyst for reevaluating and reshaping the discipline. His call for a more inclusive and culturally sensitive framework underscores the importance of embracing diversity in our understanding of global dynamics, ultimately paving the way for a more enlightened and equitable world.