Jaishankar signals confident new foreign policy paradigm
India has defended its Indo-Pacific policy and implicitly denied it is an imported concept, pointing to diplomatic, cultural and trade links going back one and a quarter millennia. And in a sign of growing assertiveness, it has also, rather uncharacteristically, categorically said no country can have a veto over its foreign policy.
In what is arguably the strongest defence of the Indo-Pacific, India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar cited history to prove that the entire region from the Gulf of Aden in the West to the South China and the Pacific Ocean have been India’s theatre of activity for several millennia.
He was referring to the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms of the region beyond the Strait of Malacca during the time of the Chola empire between the ninth and thirteenth centuries CE. Successive Chola emperors like Rajaraja Chola I, Rajendra Chola I, Rajadhiraja Chola 1 and others conquered countries like Sri Lanka, the Maldives and also sent naval expeditions all the way to kingdoms located in modern day Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.
This led to the establishment of strong military, cultural, political and trade ties between India and those countries. During that time, important Tamil trading gilds establishing a stranglehold on business in many of those regions. The Chola era also marked the zenith of Indian sea power and its projection right up to the coast of Vietnam and the southern coast of China.
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